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Runner beans IF your runner beans don't have many flowers on them it may be you've applied too much fertiliser and/or water at the wrong time, which will result in plenty of healthy leaves but not many flowers. Cold and windy weather can also stop bees from pollinating the crop.

The right time to water beans is when they are flowering and when the pods are swelling. Watering throughout the plant's life will just fuel stem and leaf growth, but little else. The secret is to plant them in fertile soil that doesn't dry out easily, preparing the ground by digging in plenty of well-rotted organic matter.

Once they are flowering, plants can be watered twice a week, directing the flow at the base of the plants.

If leaves show small brown spots surrounded by a yellow "halo", the plants may have halo blight, which results in pods developing water-soaked spots. Never soak seeds before sowing and use a resistant variety such as 'Red Rum'. Pick off infected leaves when you see them, or pull out and bin affected plants.

Verbena bonariensis MOST verbenas are used as annuals, adding a burst of colour in pots and cascading over hanging baskets in the summer months.

However, some are more hardy including V. bonariensis, a tall, wiry plant which can reach 1.5-1.8m (5-6ft) and has an airy appearance because its long slim stems and small leaves allow you to look through it to the plants beyond.

With its deep lilac-purple flowers which can last until the autumn, its see-through qualities make it perfect for planting en masse in a sunny border, with hemerocallis, lavandula, achillea and Echinacea purpurea. It''s also a magnet to butterflies. Like all verbenas, it needs to be grown in full sun in well-drained soil, with added sharp drainage. It can be cut down to within 30cm (12in) of the ground and will survive short periods of frost and snow in winter.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 9, 2011
Words:326
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