SOME GAR­DEN CONUNDRUMS AN­SWERED

GAR­DEN­ERS ASK THE BEST QUES­TIONS

The Chronicle - - Weekend - THE GAR­DEN BECK­ONS WORDS: MIKE WELLS well­s­ley­hor­ti­cul­tural@gmail.com

THE most sat­is­fy­ing as­pect of be­ing a hor­ti­cul­tur­ist is the great feel­ing of sat­is­fac­tion when able to solve any of the many gar­den­ing prob­lems pre­sented by en­thu­si­asts such as Car­ni­val gar­den­ers, vegie grow­ers, gar­den­ing talk­back lis­ten­ers, and plant col­lec­tors.

Now not all prob­lems can be solved, but, rest as­sured, I’ll give it a good go, and in the process, learn more about plants than I did the day be­fore.

Let’s take a squiz at a few ques­tions from fel­low gar­den­ers over the last few months, and some pos­si­ble so­lu­tions.

MAR­GARET asked about us­ing fungi­cides on her roses. She had heard that some types could burn plant fo­liage if used in­cor­rectly.

The main cul­prit for caus­ing leaf burn is lime sul­phur.

This fungi­cide should be ap­plied im­me­di­ately af­ter the win­ter prun­ing of roses, when the plant is with­out leaves.

If lime sul­phur is ap­plied to soft, new rose leaves (i.e. ap­plied too late), it will likely burn and dam­age the ten­der new growth.

BRETT wanted to know about re­pot­ting cit­rus trees.

What’s the best pot­ting mix, and how to re­pot into the same size con­tainer?

By far the best pot­ting mixes for cit­rus trees are any of the premium mixes con­tain­ing a high per­cent­age of peat or coir fi­bre, as well as a long-term con­trolled re­lease fer­tiliser (8-12 months).

To re­pot into the same con­tainer, re­move the tree from the pot, tease the old, bro­ken down pot­ting mix from the bot­tom of the root ball, then partly fill the bot­tom of the pot with the new mix.

When re­pot­ting the plant, re­move a lit­tle mix from the sides of the root ball, place the plant into the pot (keep­ing the top of the root ball a few cen­time­tres be­low the top of the pot), and re­fill with new mix around the sides of the root ball. Wa­ter in with a weak seaweed so­lu­tion.

PHIL was con­cerned about mistle­toe plants in some of the na­tive trees around his prop­erty.

He’d heard that they may even­tu­ally kill the trees.

The sim­ple an­swer to this is that mistle­toe may well even­tu­ally kill a tree that it has par­a­sitised, but it could take many years to do so.

A tree that has been weak­ened by dis­ease or drought may well suc­cumb to a large in­fes­ta­tion of this in­trigu­ing plant.

A small clump of mistle­toe could the­o­ret­i­cally be re­moved from a plant to “save” it, but in many cases the cul­prit will re­oc­cur.

Many mistle­toes at­tract na­tive birds to the gar­den.

SAN­DRA wanted some in­for­ma­tion on whether adding wood ash to the gar­den was ben­e­fi­cial or detri­men­tal to the soil.

In most cases, the ad­di­tion of wood ash to your gar­den beds will be ben­e­fi­cial.

Wood ash is fairly high in potas­sium, an es­sen­tial ele­ment for flower and fruit pro­duc­tion, so the great­est ben­e­fit will be seen in the vegie and fruit tree gar­den.

It will also help to hold nu­tri­ents and wa­ter in a soil.

How­ever, be care­ful not to over-ap­ply to a gar­den, as it is about half as al­ka­line as gar­den lime, so it will raise the pH over a pe­riod of time.

For those liv­ing on al­ka­line black soils, it’s best used in the com­post heap to re­duce acid­ity.

BRIAN had a prob­lem with scale on his cit­rus trees.

A steady stream of ants up and down the stems and trunk is a sure sign of th­ese lit­tle sap suck­ers, and a large in­fes­ta­tion can eas­ily re­duce a small tree’s vigour.

Scale can be treated with a range of or­ganic reme­dies, in­clud­ing dous­ing with soapy wa­ter, but by far the best treat­ment is a spray with a plant-based oil prod­uct de­rived from tea-trees and eu­ca­lyp­tus.

BEV­ER­LEY wanted some in­for­ma­tion on treat­ment for aza­lea lace bug.

A sure sign of aza­lea lace bug (ALB) is a sil­ver­ing of the up­per leaf sur­faces, and small brown and black spots on the un­der­sides of the leaves.

ALBs will be ac­tive through the warmer months in our re­gion (Septem­ber – May), so now is a great time to treat them.

As for scale, a dous­ing with soapy wa­ter will dis­cour­age th­ese pests, how­ever, a nat­u­ral oil spray will give good con­trol (spray oils when the weather is cool or late in the af­ter­noon).

Some gar­den­ers re­port good re­sults from spray­ing fish emul­sion fer­tiliser to the un­der­side of the leaves.

For new plant­ings, look for En­core aza­leas, in par­tic­u­lar “Au­tumn Roy­alty” and “Au­tumn Twist”, as they have been touted as “lace bug re­sis­tant”.

JANE was won­der­ing why her daylilsies weren’t flow­er­ing as well as they did a few years ago.

There’s usu­ally a cou­ple of rea­sons why daylilies won’t flower well.

The first is that they need an ab­so­lutely full sun as­pect to pro­duce their best blooms.

If the plants are in some shade for part of the day (nearby trees and shrubs may have grown taller over the years), they will not flower well.

In ad­di­tion, as a daylily clump grows larger, the in­di­vid­ual plants com­pete for space, light, nu­tri­ents and wa­ter.

This will al­most cer­tainly re­duce their abil­ity to pro­duce max­i­mum blooms.

To keep them at their peak, lift and di­vide in au­tumn or straight af­ter win­ter.

GAR­DEN CUT­TINGS – Find me on Face­book at Well­s­ley Hor­ti­cul­ture, and like my page.

Pho­tos: Mike Wells

TOP SPOT: Full sun is the best as­pect to help your daylil­lies bloom at their best.

A sure sign of aza­lea lace bug is a sil­ver­ing of the up­per side of the leaves. They're on the march right now.

The best time to ap­ply lime sul­phur is im­me­di­ately af­ter the main win­ter prun­ing of your roses.

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