Here are some mid-summer gardening tips:

* Tuberous rooted alstroemerias are perennials that deserve garden space because of their long flowering season throughout summer and into autumn, and their usefulness as a cut flower. Tall varieties need staking to prevent them flopping on to their neighbours. For small gardens and containers, grow the more compact Princess Series.

* Sponge the leaves of indoor palms with soap and water, or with a cleaning cloth available from garden centres. As well as improving the appearance of the palm, this allows the leaves to breathe and prevents scale disease. Mist foliage of ferns and indoor pot plants on hot, dry days.

* Some zonal pelargoniums have chocolate, gold or bronze markings on their leaves. Should rust spots appear on the leaves, spray with Funginex or Dithane according to instructions.

* Angelonia is a charming summer-flowering perennial with an upright growth habit. It is sometimes called the summer snapdragon because of the shape of the white, pink, blue or purple flowers. Plant in clusters in borders, in containers, and in the picking garden.

* The pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) from Mexico is an evergreen sub-shrub with dainty pink-red flowers used to flavour fritters, cool drinks and fruit salads. Pineapple sage needs protection from frost. In spring the old woody stems should be cut back to make way for new growth.

* Calamondins are compact citrus trees with small orange fruits that are attractive when grown in a large pot on a patio. - Saturday Star