December 09, 2018


Pink dianthus & white candytuft | Photos by the writer
Pink dianthus & white candytuft | Photos by the writer

Q. I’m keen to have fragrant plants in my Lahore garden. Which ones are suitable and for which season?

A. Perennial shrubs and climbers/creepers, with fragrance and suitable for your area, include: Jasmine, perfumed roses, honeysuckle, carnations, violets, raat-ki-rani, oleander, brugmensia, gardenia, murraya, beaumontia grandiflora, camoensia maxima, porana panicolata, stephanotis and rhyncospermum jasminoides. Annual flowers and climbers with perfume include: Sweet peas, sweet sultan, stocks, Virginian stocks, sweet alyssum, phlox, wallflowers, dianthus, sweet William, heliotrope, mignonette and nicotiana. Fragrant bulbs and corms include: many varieties of lilies, tuberoses, freesia, Dutch hyacinths and nargis.

There are, in fact, so many perfumed species for you to choose from that it is not possible to list all of their growth habits and flowering times. Some of them though, will be covered in more detail next week, when shrubs come under the microscope. Meanwhile, the best bet is to make regular trips to local nurseries to check out which fragrant flowers are in bloom at the time.

All your gardening queries answered here

Q. I have a farmhouse located in the Galiyat, District Abbottabad, where I plan to grow blueberries and raspberries. I wonder if you can suggest some other suitable fruit bushes as well. Winter temperatures sometimes drop down to as low as minus five degrees Celsius. I also need the names of nurseries where I can get these plants from.

A. You can add gooseberries, black currants, red currants, white currants and Worcester berries to your list of climatically suitable fruit bushes. I do know that blueberries and raspberries are available in nurseries in Haripur and Islamabad from time to time, but suggest that you do an internet search of sources, within Pakistan, for all of these. It is against company policy to name specific nurseries in this column but it is always worthwhile checking the gardening section in the advertising pages of the newspaper itself. Good luck!

Q. What is the right time to plant papaya and custard apple seeds in Karachi? What soil mix should I use to grow them in pots?

Fragrant desi rose
Fragrant desi rose

A. Early to mid-spring is the ideal seed-sowing time for these species in Karachi but please note that custard apple rarely, if ever, grow from seed: they are best purchased, from a nursery, as grafted saplings. A medium rich, well-draining mix of about 25 percent river sand (not salty sea sand), 25 percent organic compost or old, well-rotted, organic manure and 50 percent sweet earth, should be ideal in which to germinate the seeds and for growing the seedlings on, in much larger pots, once they are well -established and able to be transplanted.

Q. I want to grow potatoes near Islamabad and need to know where to get good quality seed.

A. An agricultural supply store should be able to provide exactly what you need or, alternatively, ask around in the sabzi mandi as seed potatoes, suitable for your specific locality, can be found there too.

Q. I live in Nazimabad, Karachi and keep trying to grow herbs like rosemary, basil and lemongrass in pots from seed. But they always die after producing very few leaves. Right now, I am trying to grow broccoli. It is a month since I sowed the seed and only four small leaves are there. Kindly help.

A. It is likely that you are using poor quality soil, one seriously lacking in the nutrients essential for getting seedlings off to a good, healthy start. Try using a 50/50 mix of pure organic compost and top-quality sweet earth. Also ensure that the seed trays/pots receive six to eight hours of sunlight and keep the soil/compost damp but not soaking wet. Also, take care not to overcrowd seeds as overcrowding vastly reduces a seedling’s chance of growing to full size.

Q. Which horticultural websites are beneficial to learn home gardening basics?

A. I suggest that you browse the Facebook pages on gardening in Pakistan, where you will find many helpful posts and also be able to interact with gardeners in all parts of the country.

Q. I live in Model Town, Lahore. There are many nurseries here in our locality but, unfortunately, I am unable to procure the seeds of the flowers like tulips or daisies or delightful bulbs and corms that you write about in your delightful articles. 

A. Not all nurseries sell bulbs and corms or even seeds, much preferring to grow them themselves and make a profit from selling actual plants. You need to visit seed supply stores, possibly more than once, for the items you wish to purchase.

Q. I would be very grateful if you could share with me some of the names of garden supply stores to buy seeds or plants in Lahore.

A. It is against company policy to name these here. Check in the advertising section or do an internet search for suppliers in your locality.

Please continue sending your gardening queries to Remember to include your location. The writer does not respond directly by email. Emails with attachments will not be opened.

Published in Dawn, EOS, December 9th, 2018