Wilde side

Kim Wilde answers your gardening questions.

I have raised a chilli plant from the seeds of a shop-bought chilli, which grew with gusto for four months. Now it looks limp. What can I do?
Chillies are in the same family as tomatoes and will grow in similar conditions, but higher temperatures and humidity get better results. Seeds from the chilli fruit may not be viable, so it is best to use F1 hybrids suited to growing outdoors. One cause of your problem might be that chillies hate erratic watering: water regularly, but do not saturate. Or perhaps the roots are congested and the plant needs repotting. A fortnightly dose of a liquid seaweed feed may put the fire back into it.

I have a mature Prunus ‘Pissardii’, 1m from my neighbour’s house wall, and want to replace it with something not too tall, say 5m. We live in a conservation area, so assuming I get permission, can I safely cut it down, dig out the root, and put the replacement in the same spot? What would be a good replacement? The wall faces north.
If there is no objection to the tree being removed, use a tree surgeon to do the job safely. Replacements could include Betula utilis var. jacquemontii, whose roots are not wide-spreading, or Amelanchier lamarckii with spring flowers and stunning autumn tints. If this is a matter of screening the wall, perhaps a shrub is the answer. Garrya elliptica (silk-tassel bush) is evergreen (5m), with catkins from mid-winter to early spring. It can be trained or freestanding. Another evergreen option is Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ (4.5m). Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Moerloosei’ (5m) is a fast-growing deciduous shrub with glossy green leaves and pinky-white flowers in early spring. North-facing walls are often dry places, so plant shrubs at least 45cm away from the wall.

Can you recommend tall houseplants that are low maintenance? One is for a bright area; the other for a shadowy area.
Schefflera actinophylla (umbrella tree) has glossy leaflets that radiate from the stalk and can reach up to 3m. Water liberally between spring and autumn, and sparingly in winter. It likes bright light, but not direct sun. Or how about a palm? Howea belmoreana reaches up to 2.5m and is happy in a well-lit position. Philodendron scandens (sweetheart plant) is a climber that can reach up to 4m. It will be fine in light shade, but does not like direct sun. Dracaena marginata has brightly coloured, sword-like foliage, grows up to 3m and tolerates some shade.