Kim Wilde answers your gardening questions.
A friend has bought me two stems of 'lucky bamboo'. I've had them in water but wonder if I could plant them.
I have often puzzled over these naked branches, with tufts of sword-shaped leaves, as I've noticed them crammed into impossibly clean glass vases in places such as Habitat. A stem arrived in a trendy floral arrangement several months ago and, like an idiot, I threw it out with the rest of the droopy blooms. Had I but known that stem would still be thriving today, and indeed would be for a couple of years to come. Unless you live in a tropical forest, you can't plant this outdoors, and it will not survive below 60F. It grows happily in purified water, in low light conditions out of direct sunlight. It will also thrive in a soil mixture, as long as it is permanently saturated. Water needs changing only every 10 days. Three stems should bring happiness, five wealth and seven good health, but with 21 stems you can apparently increase your luck considerably, as this will bring you a powerful All Purpose Blessing (only 19 to go then). The stalk won't grow taller once cut, as it's the leaves that grow and develop into stalks themselves. Once a leaf has developed into a stalk, it can be clipped from where it sprouted and put in water to start more bamboo.
I have an earth bank at the bottom of the garden. What low-maintenance, cheap plants can I use to cover it?
First, eradicate all weeds and grass. As you have a steep bank, consider mulching the slope by pegging on a fibre mat, which suppresses weeds and conserves water. Suitable plants include Buddleja davidii, which attracts butterflies, the semi-evergreen Lonicera japonica 'Halliana' and the evergreen Cotoneaster dammeri, with its white flowers in June and red autumn berries that birds love. Groundcover roses are useful, too, among them Rosa 'Max Graf' and R. 'Worcestershire'. Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var. repens is evergreen with lilac flowers in spring, and forms a spreading mound. Last, sedum matting is low-maintenance and perfect for a sunny aspect.