Real World Gardener Bring Plants Back to Life in Plant Doctor

June 11th, 2020


Can you bring a plant back to life? 

We all love our garden, but sometimes a hiccup in garden maintenance brings distastrous results.

Take this next scenario:

You've come home from a couple of week's holiday and found that your treasured Spathyphyllum sp. or peace lily seems to have melted over the sides of the pot. It was a hot summer and the house-sitter didn't think to water it. 

  • What can you do to revive your dying plant? 

Most people immediately assume that they should water it, but an extra dose of water can actually harm a plant that doesn’t need it. 

  • However, in this case, a good dunk in a bucket of water will remove most of the plant. There will be some dead leaves of course.

Out in the garden, there's a similar scenario, with small shrubs looking dried with burnt and scorched leaves.

They're not necessarily dead yet, so how can you tell?

The first thing to do is scratch the bark with your fingernail to see if there's some green underneath the outer layer.

If yes, then happy days, because with a bit of TLC, this plant will be brought back from the brink.

Also test if the limb or branchlet is still supple or snaps when you bend it.

If the stems are brittle, and brown inside when you cut it with a pair of secateurs, then the plant is dead and can’t be saved.

  • Perhaps your buxus hedge is only half dead. Trim back the dead stems and give it a good water, adding a seaweed drink to the watering can. That can revive the plants no end.

    Dead branchlets on my buxus hedge

One last chance.

When the plant above ground is all dried up and dead looking, there is a chance that new growth will spring from the roots, depending on what it is of course. Australian natives are good at springing back to life if you cut them to about 5 cm above the ground.


Diagnose the Problem

You need to weigh up whether or not your giving it too much water, (one of the most common mistakes) or not enough water.

  • Has your peace lily got brown leaves that are dry around the edges or curled up? It's a sign of insufficient watering, so go water it!

Root rot symptoms.

This is when the plants' leaves look wilted, yet the soil is moist around the roots. In fact probably too moist if it's been sitting in a pot of water.

More than likely, your plant has root rot and the only way to save it,(slight chance), is if your spray it with Yates Anti-Rot which contains phosacid. This will only work if you've caught it in time and the leaves are able to take up the phosacid and translocate it to the roots.

Another option is to replant it into drier soil, which is easier if it's in a pot in the first place.


Don't Fertilise Yet

Fertilising now will stress the plant further and possible cause root and leaf burn. Wait it out a couple of weeks to let the plant recover, then add a gentle fertiliser at half strength.

Burnt Leaves

Bromeliad needed more shade.

Australia's hot summers can burn leaves of plants, particularly if the ground is very dry.

If it's in the ground and the leaves keep getting burnt every year, dig it up and move it to a shadier spot in the garden.

If it's in a pot, that's an easy fix to move to a better spot.

Frost damage on plants looks similar to leaf burn from too much sun.

If you're expecting more frost because it's only the start of winter, invest in a some horticultural fleece, and throw it over the plant on frosty nights. Leave the burnt leaves for now, because they will protect the lower leaves that haven't been burnt.


I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from 

Real World Gardener Allergy and Cut Flowers in Talking Flowers

June 10th, 2020


Allergy and Cut Flowers

Cut flowers bring surprise and admiration for the giver but if they trigger itchy eyes and runny noses, chances are you have an allergy to those particular flowers.

Pollen allergies can trigger hayfever type reactions so flowers with lots of pollen should be avoided.

But how to tell?

Botanical Bite

Only male flowers produce pollen. 

  •  Dioecious plants have either only male or either female flowers on any one individual plant. These plants rely on mainly the wind, rarely insects to carry pollen from a male plant to a female plant to reproduce.
  • Monoecious plants, contain both male and female flowers on the same plant, meaning that pollen must travel from flower to flower but not from plant to plant. Some monoecious plants contain male and female parts in the same flower. They’re often called “perfect flowers” and don't need any pollen to be transferred at all, as a single flower can reproduce on its own.

Top 10 allergy-heavy plants

The most obvious flowers and plants to steer away from are those that are wind pollinated. Believe it or not, grasses have flowers, but they're not so obvious or showy. All grass flowers are wind pollinated, these include your lawn grass.Value%2Bfor%2Bmoney%2Bflowers4.jpg

  1. Baby's breath  (Gypsophila sp.) is popular in many florist bouquets and are planted in cottage gardens because they're easy to grow from seed. Although the flowers are small, they carry heaps of pollen of pollen. There are singles and doubles so opt for the double flowering types because they have less pollen. More petals equals less pollen, plus as the double flowers are hybrids they have a low level of pollen anyway. It also helps that all those petals prevent the pollen from flying off.
  2. Daisy Family-Asteraceae.  That includes white daises, pink daisies, yellow daisies, in fact any daisies. Daisies are very high in pollen count but even though they are not wind pollinated, allergy sufferers should avoid getting too close. Let the bees and other insects do the work.
  3. Dahlias-still in the daisy family, especially the single flowering dahlias.
  4. Sunflowers-(Helianthus anuum)still in the daisy family, but did you know you can buy seed for pollenless sunflowers?
  5. Gerberas-of course, still in the daisy family. One of the most showy of Asteraceae, but plenty of pollen.
  6. Chamomile-small daisy like flowers that look innocuous but have plenty of pollen, including the ones you pick to make chamomile tea.
  7. Amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus)-have flowers that are referred to as catkins with a high pollen count.
  8. Chrysanthemum-there are plenty of fully double chrysanthemums you could choose to lessen the impact of the high pollen count.
  9. Bottlebrush-(Callistemon sp.) although they're visited by bees and other insects for the nectar, they still have enough pollen to be blown about by the wind.
  10. Jasmine species-not only pollen but high fragrance can irritate allergy sufferers.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of



  • What to choose instead in your bouquet or vase for the home.

Begonia, cactus, clematis, columbine, crocus, daffodil and geranium are some of the most allergy-friendly plants and flowers. Hosta, hydrangea, iris, lily, periwinkle, rose, tulip, zinnia are also known for being good choices.

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