Spotting Plant Deficiencies in Plant Doctor

September 8th, 2021

PLANT DEFICIENCIES:

Imagine this scenario, you’ve fertilised your garden with all the right stuff, having followed the manufacturer’s instructions to a ‘t.’

But still the plants look sickly, or perhaps a bit yellow, or they’re just not putting on any growth.
Does that sound familiar?

  • So what’s the problem?
The first thing you need to do is a pH test on your soil-there's no escaping it.
Why?
512px-Soil_pH_effect_on_nutrient_availability.svg.png

The soil pH will determine the availability pf different nutrients to your plants.

 
Let's look at an example
Looking at the chart on the right, it's immediately apparent that if your pH is higher than say pH7.5, then nutrients like iron start to taper off in their availability to the plant.
 
Then means your plant may start to show symptoms of iron deficiency.
In fact, after pH 7.5, other nutrients taper off in their availability, such as manganese, boron, and more importantly, one of the macro nutrients being potassium.

 

 
pH%2Bkit%2Blaid%2Bout.jpg
Basic pH test kit

 

  • Recently%2BUpdated20.jpg

    Ideally the ideal pH range that gardeners should strive for is pH 6 - 7.5

  • This is the range that the major nutrients of NPK are available to the plant the most.
  • Some plants such as rhododenrons and azaleas like a like a low of pH6.
A pH testing kit is essential in any gardener’s shed. Consider testing your soil in different parts of the garden.
A good tip when taking soil samples from your soil is to get a sample from just below the surface for an accurate reading.
 
First signs of Nutrient Deficiencies: 
Nitrogen: new leaves are pale green and older leaves are yellow and start to dry up.
Phosphorus: purpling of the leaves, particularly along the lower leaves. New leaves are a bit stunted and deformed in severe cases.  A bit more rare.
Potassium: poor overall health; older leaves turn yellow then crisp up and die off. Often mistaken for dehydration.
 
Let’s find out more about  pH testing and plant deficiencies 
I'm talking with Kylie Last, horticulturist and TAFE teacher.
If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Plant Nutrition: What Plant Really Want in Plant Doctor

September 8th, 2021

 PLANT NUTRITION UNPACKED

Major Nutrients

Have you ever asked yourself "how do plants take up nutrients when you spread fertiliser around them on the ground or dilute it into liquid ?"

It's something that we gardeners do quite a lot of,  spreading fertiliser around that is, and probably don't give it a second thought until plants don't respond to all this nutrient load.
  • What went wrong? 
Firstly, the nutrients that you spread around are not directly taken up by the plants.
Nutrients have to be what's called 'made available' to the plants and to do this, the soil biota or the microorganisms have to do some work.
Water, soil and microbes are the three things that the plants need before plants can take these nutrients.
  • So What Are These Nutrients?

Macro Nutrients:   these are the highest rated nutrients that plants can’t do without.

  • Nitrogen:Phosphorus:Potassium or NPK: 

    HOM_5245.JPG
    A selection of fertilisers
  • Kylie's main mantra is NPK refers to shoots:roots;fruit
The component relates as Nitrogen, giving your plant nice healthy green leaves.
The P component: encourages healthy root systems.
The K or potassium component helps the fruits and flowers
 
Sure we can add compost, aged manures and liquid seaweed, but unless you’re sure of what’s in them nutrient wise, you may be under fertilising your plants.

Without the major nutrients, your plants may not grow and develop roots, stems leaves and flowers properly.

If you know what and how much to give your plants, the plants will be healthier and more productive.

Just remember to read the NPK amounts on the bag or packet of fertiliser.
Let’s find out more about what plants really need.
I'm talking with Kylie Last, horticulturist and TAFE teacher.
PLAY: Major Nutrients_21stJuly 2021

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Woolly Tea Tree in Plant of the Week

August 30th, 2021

Scientific name: Leptospermum lanigerum

Common Name: Woolly tea tree
Family: Myrtaceae
Etymologyleptos, meaning slender, and sperma, meaning seed.

lanigerum, is named using the Latin word for wool-bearing, describing the silky hairy leaves and hairy buds, shoots and young capsules.

Height: 3m by 3m wide
 
Location: any soil in sun and will tolerate heavy shade. Frost hardy to -7C
 Description: Dense shrub to small erect tree with persistent fibrous bark on larger stems, smaller stems shedding in stringy strips.
Leptospermum%2Blanigerum.jpg
  • Not all tea trees have green leaves, and this one has pewter grey or silver tiny leaves with typical 5 petalled tea tree flowers.
  • May be limbed into a small tree. Light summer water though very drought adapted. Excellent background shrub or screen or large informal hedge. 
Takes well to pruning as the leaves are tiny and the more you prune the bush will become more dense. 
 
Listen to the podcast to find out more
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and officianado

Aussie Blue Devil in Plant of the Week

August 30th, 2021

pt 4 
Scientific name Eryngium ovinum
Common Name: Blue Devil not the Sea Holly from norther Europe

Eryngium_ovinum2.jpg

Etymology: Eryngium refers to Sea Holly and ovinum refers to sheep-apparently sheep graze on these plants.

Family: Apiaceae-carrot family
Height/width: 60cm-1m by 60cm-1m
Description: Semi-evergreen perennial with green thistle-like foliage and unique feather-like blue cylindrical flowers during Summer. Dormant from Autumn through to late Winter. Long-lasting cut flower. Grows approx. 70cm tall x 40cm wide.
  • When heavily if flower, the plant, not just the flowers turn blue. "By mid summer the flowering stems extend to 60 cm and a mass of crowded bright blue flowers is produced with long, spiky bracts to 2.5 cm in globular, thistle-like heads on rigid branched stems. " (from anbg.gov.au)
In Adrian's temperate garden, the Blue Devil has not died down as it reputedly does in cooler climates. Grows in most soil conditions in full sun.
 
Listen to the podcast to find out more
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and officianado

Aussie Coastal Rosemary is Plant of the Week

August 30th, 2021

pt3 
Scientific Name: Westringia fruiticosa
Common Name: Coastal Rosemary
Family: Lamiaceae (mint family)
Leaves: green, with a covering of short hairs giving the plant a silvery tint . Leaves are up to 2 centimetres long, narrow and pointed and set closely in whorls around the stem.
0263747_westringia-fruticosa-greybox-in-situ.jpg
Westringia 'Grey Box'

Flowers: Appear in my garden from September onwards with November seeing a main flush. Typical of flowers in the mint family either in white or pale mauve with a couple of reddish spots near the throat of the flowers. This is a bee guide for Aussie native bees.

 
Looks like rosemary but it isn't and Adrian regards it as the 'murraya' of the Aussie native plant world.
Tough as 'old boots' seen hugging the cliffs and down to beach level, either prostrate or several feet high depending on situation.
A useful garden plant that has been hybrised extensively.
Westringia "Aussie Box' and 'Grey Box' is a great alternative to box hedging.
 
TIP:Adrian recommends use mechanical shears instead of electric or battery operated shears for better results when pruning
 
Listen to the podcast to find out more
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and officianado
 

Aussie Salt Bush is Plant of the Week

August 30th, 2021

pt 2 Silver leafed plants

Scientific name:Rhagodia spinescens

Common Name: Aussie flat bush; spiny saltbush

Family: Chenopodiaceae
Height: 0.5-1.5m  tall by 1.5-4metres wide.
Flowers:January -April, tiny cream panicles, fairly insignificant.
 
Conditions: frost and mildly drought tolerant, best suited for temperate and semi-arid regions.
Location: tolerant of soil types and will grow in full sun or dry shade.
0262066_rhagodia-spinescens.jpg

Uses: prune to shape as a hedge or leave to make a groundcover. 

 
Quite a vigorous grower and hugs the ground so makes great habitat for native reptiles and small birds.
 

Ozbreed has a compact form makes a great ground cover and performs better if it is pruned annually or more often if a manicured look is desired.  30-50cm x 1m wide

Listen to the podcast to find out more
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and officianado
 

Winter Pruning of Figs in Plant Doctor

August 18th, 2021

 PLANT DOCTOR

Pruning Figs: 

Ficus carica is the edible fig that hails from the Mediterranean.

Fig trees aren’t quite as ubiquitous as citrus trees are in the produce garden but they are still a firm favourite.

What's not to like?
They are delicious to eat fresh and or dried, plus nothing beats home grown figs. 

There are a few different types: 

  • 'Black Genoa' is typically a large growing fig tree and not suitable for small back yards. This is a fast growing heavy cropping tree that produces large sweet purple skinned fruit. Good for inlan Australia but not so good on the far north coast.
  • White genoa-great for drying about half the size of black genoa: also grows well in cooler areas.
  • Brown Turkey  good for eating fresh, is a very hardy tree that does well in inland areas.
  • White Adriatic-a green skinned medium to large fruit.
  • Dwarf Brown Slow growing and compact this small tree can be kept at about 1 - 1.5 m in height. Great for small spaces and pots and smaller backyards
There’s a only few things you need to know when attending to those trees and believe it or not, winter time is one of those times.
In fact, winter time is the time you need to go out and take a look at your fig tree, assessing it for what to prune and what to leave
fig%2Bfruit.jpg
 
  • When you first get your fig tree, prune the tree by half; cut it back to 3 or 4 branches.
  • Prunings can be used to propagate more trees as the cuttings take root very easily.
TIP: figs like to grow in shallow soil which has been enriched with limestone. 
  • pH 8 is an ideal for figs, and you can do this by adding crusher dust to the soil. 
  • What is crusher dust?
  • Crusher dust is a blend of small crushed blue metal rocks and finer dust.
  • Either add it to your pot or to the soil.
  • Incidentally, crusher dust is a great medium for striking 'slow to take' cuttings.

Getting Down To Pruning

Steve’s tip is to prune new fig trees by half when you get them, but for older trees, prune one-third to one-half each year. 
  • We are looking for the new growth to supply the current season's fruit.  
  • Prune out any limbs that are less than 45 degrees to the trunk. Keep branches that are more or less at right angles to the main trunk.
  • Remove any branches or laterals that are less than half a metre from the ground.
  • If you need to, you can now bring it into shape but otherwise you have done your main pruning.

So let’s find out what more needs doing.
That was Steve McGrane, agriculturist and horticulturist.
PLAY: Pruning figs_7th July 2021
If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Bulbs for Dry and Moist shade in Design Elements

July 24th, 2021

  DESIGN ELEMENTS

Warm Bulbs What Are They?

Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips, freesias, bluebells, to name a few are all bulbs from the northern hemisphere. They do best in cool climates and once the main spring show is over, there's nothing left to excite.

  • It's time to changeup or simply extend the flowering season to what garden designer Peter Nixon terms 'warm bulbs.' 
  • These come from warmer climates such as South Africa and South America, therefore are more suited to a large part of eastern Australia-the 'cool sub trops.' (Cool sub-tropical).
  • The other benefits of these spectacular bulbs are that they flower much later and longer;  late spring into summer and even autumn.

Warm Bulbs part 4-Dry Shade and Moist shade

What kind of shade? NOT GLOOM!
  • We are talking Cliveas, and not just Clivea miniata. 
Try the following Cliveas

clivea%2Bnobilis.jpg
Clivea nobilis


 Clivea nobilis -umbel with many florets, starting in late winter; variable colours from pale orange to deep orange red with green tips.
Clivea gardenii-tubular and pendulous flowers; orange to red, however yellow and pink clones are also sometimes available to the plant collector.
Clivea caulescens-flowers pendulous and tubular; orange-red with green tips
Clivea robusta-pendulous flowers with green tips
Clivea%2Bgroup%2B2%2Byellow_green%2B%25282%2529.jpg


Bright shade will keep them happy. Full sun will fade the dark green to a pale washed out green and at worst, will burn the leaves
  • Keep one thing in mind. Where the leaf union comes together, it has to be well above the soil otherwise the clivea will rot.
  • As the roots push the upwards, DON'T be tempted to cover up the root system with more soil. 
  • Leaf litter or a leaf mulch is fine, but these grow in high rainfall areas and require their root system to be not sitting in water.

Moist Shade: 

Eucaris amazonica, flowers in high summer, usually around February, with pure white flowers with a green cup centre, almost daffodil-like.

Eucahris%2Bamazonica.jpg

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer from Paradisus garden design. www.dgnblog.peternixon.com.auwww.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au     

 

Instagram paradisus_sea_changer FB Paradisus Garden Design

If you have any questions or feedback for me or Peter about these bulbs, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com or info@peternixon.com.au

South African Bulbs for a Harsh Western Aspect in Design Elements

July 24th, 2021

Warm Bulbs pt. 2-Harsh Western Aspect 

Every garden has an aspect that’s hard to plant out because it’s either too shady or too harsh and dry or even spot that receives hot western sun .
Today I’m focusing on bulbs that can give you a long display in the warmer months but have evolved to withstand hot and dry months.

haemanthus%2B%25282%2529.JPG
Haemanthus coccineus photo M Cannon

These bulbs originate where they are not exposed to very cold winters but have evolved to withstand hot dry conditions.

The bulbs in this group are in the Amaryllidaceae family which consists of mainly bulbs with long strappy leaves. The flowers are usually in an umbel-like cluster on a short or long scape.

 
Quite a few are known to have large showy flowers.
Haemanthus coccineus or 'blood lily likes an exposed location. 
 
It will refuse to flowers if in a shady, lush location. 
Don’t be like me and put the blood lily in too much shelter so the leaves grow long and the flower season trigger is missed.
  • A dead give-away is if the leaves are quite long and extended, then the bulb is in too much shade.

If you live in Adelaide, say a couple of streets back from the beach such as in Brighton, then expect your 'blood lily' to take off like mad. The low humidity and winter rains are a perfect climate for this bulb.

Haemanthus%2Bcoccineus%2Bx%2BH%2Balbifloss%2Bpink%2Bblood%2Blily.jpg
 
You can also look for the interspecific hybrid of Haemanthus albifloss x H. coccineus
If you love the shape of tulip flowers, then plant a row of these bulbs which will flower summer to autumn.
Brunsvigia%2Bgregaria.jpg
Brunsvigia greagaria 
 
Brunsvigia gregaria which has agapanthus like flower on steroids in a crimson coloured bloom.
Or even the combined genus of brunsvigia and amaryllis ending up with Amarygia.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast with Peter Nixon
 from Paradisus garden design.

Warm Bulbs for Bright Semi-Shade in Design Elements

July 23rd, 2021

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

Warm Bulbs What Are They?

Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips, freesias, bluebells, to name a few are all bulbs from the northern hemisphere. They do best in cool climates and once the main spring show is over, there's nothing left to excite.

  • It's time to changeup or simply extend the flowering season to what garden designer Peter Nixon terms 'warm bulbs.' 
  • These come from warmer climates such as South Africa and South America, therefore are more suited to a large part of eastern Australia-the 'cool sub trops.' (Cool sub-tropical).
    Scadoxus%2Bmultiflorus%2Bvar.%2Bkatarineae%2BFireball%2Blily.jpg
    Scadoxus multiflorus var. katarineae photo P. Nixon
  • The other benefits of these spectacular bulbs are that they flower much later and longer;  late spring into summer and even autumn.

We're starting of this 4 part series with 'bulbs for bright semi-shade.'

  • The first group are Scadoxus species, some of which evergreen.
  • This group DO NOT like low light levels, and poor  drainage.
  • If growing under a tree, the canopy must be well above so the bulbs are not shaded.
  • Even morning sun would be good.
  • Bulbs are the size of an onion.
  • DO NOT bury the bulbs as you would a tulip are narcissus. The neck of these bulbs MUST be half-emerged.

Peter mentions these:

Scadoxus multiflorus var. katarinaea - Fireball Lily (but also grows in Southern Highlands equating to higher altitude South Africa). 

Scadoxus membranaceus -entirely staminate and surrounded with pale bracts.

I have some of these warm bulbs-namely two varieties of Haemanthus.

One flowers easily, and the other, I’ve yet to discover where it prefers to grow so it puts out the red paintbrush flower.

PLAY: Bulbs -bright semi-shade_16th June 2021

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer from Paradisus garden design.www.dgnblog.peternixon.com.auwww.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au 

Instagram paradisus_sea_changer FB Paradisus Garden Design

If you have any questions or feedback for me or Peter about these bulbs, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com or info@peternixon.com.au

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