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 Emu Bush is Plant of the Week

May 29th, 2020


Scientific name: Eremophila sp. 

Common name: emu bush


EtymologyTheir name is from the Greek 'eremos' meaning desert and 'philio' - love. 

Distribution: Australia especially Wetern Australia

Native Habitat:Grow where rainfall is sparse, adapted to dry habitats

Climate: Warm temperate, Mediterranean, Semi-arid, Arid



Here we go with one of those little heard of native plants that’s probably hard to track down.

But it’s the distinctive, but diverse flowers of these plants (eremophila) that are the real show-stoppers. 


Let’s find out more.

I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and horticulturist.

Adrian says don't expect them to last more than several years if growing them on the eastern, because of the high humidity.

The general species have grey leaves with purple flowers.

Grafted plants, although more expensive, last longer. Eremophila nivea is one example that's available as a grafted plant.

  • Tip: check out the Olive Pink garden in Alice Spring.

Eremophilas come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from ground covers to shrubs, to small trees and they can be found growing in the toughest of conditions.

They are drought resistant and tolerant of frost once established.

  • Some of the flowers are insect pollinated and others are pollinated by birds. It's apparent by the colour and shape of the flower. "The flat, purple or violet ones tend to be insect pollinated. Some flowers have little tracks on the inside which are like landing strips for the insects."
  • "The tubular flowers are more often bird-pollinated - their beaks delve into the long tubes for the nectar at the bottom. The pollen ends up on their heads and they move on to the next flower. Tubular flowers have a curious twist: they flare at the ends and split in such a way that they look like they are growing backwards on their stems.


  1. bignoniflora grows well in Adelaide Botanic Gardens.


Real World Gardener Native Fuschias in Plant of the Week

May 21st, 2020


Correa species

Plants with bell shaped flowers are pretty much sought after by gardeners because the flowers are unusual and add an extra dimension to the floral palette. 
The good old fashioned fuchsia is however not easy for gardeners to grow in some districts so what can you do?

Correa alba

Turn to the native equivalent, which is much more hardy and suited to a variety of climates. 
Let’s find out more. 
That was Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert. 

Distribution: mainly eastern Australia
Flower: C. reflexa has the tips of the joined petals, turned back with eight stamens that stick out. May to November is the main flowering time with spot flowering in between.
Location: Light shade with moisture: suitable for under trees.
  • Notes: They may not last forever in your garden, but will brighten up the cooler months.
  • They like dry shade but do better with a bit of a drink, especially as they have fine shallow roots. Mulching with help retain moisture.
  • If they grow leggy, give them a light prune.
Adrian and I focussed on four species of correa:

  • Correa, reflexa,
  • Correa pulchella, wide colour range from pale red, pink and orange that flower in autumn and winter.
    Correa bauerlenii: Chef's cap Correa
  • Correa alba with whitish flowers and tomentose leaves
  • Correa bauerlenii.tends to be limey green scented flowers.


Real World Gardener Creating a Bird Friendly Garden in Design Elements

April 23rd, 2020


Building A Bird Friendly Garden

Wildlife in Australia has taken a massive hit with bushfires, then torrential rain that in some cases resulted in flooding. 
Are you wondering where have all the birds gone in your garden ?

Or perhaps you have some of the more aggressive birds like Indian Mynah or Currawongs and want to know how to attract those smaller birds.
How can you help the birdlife in your garden?

Superb Fairy Wren

Perhaps start by thinking about creating an oasis, but there’s some essential steps that need to be observed first. 
Let’s find out . 
I'm talking with Glenice Buck, consulting arborist and landscape designer 
PLAY: Building a bird friendly garden_8th April 2020 

If you provide your birds in your local area with a source of food, shelter and water, and that should help with not only supporting them, but letting you enjoy more of their presence. 

  • Glenice points out that you need to plant in layers.
  • This includes the canopy layer or larger trees, the shrub layer, then groundcovers and finally the leaf litter layer.
You may have noticed when you are walking in your district, where the smaller birds congregate.
This will give you some idea of the kind of habitat that they prefer.
You don't necessarily have to plant the same as in the bushland are nature reserves, because some might be weeds.

Grevillea Scarlet Sprite
For example, fairy wrens love to dart in and out of lantana bushes that are growing along a path under the Gladesville bridge in Sydney.
Instead, plant the type of style of bushes that these birds prefer; a shrub with dense foliage to the ground, such as Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite,' or "Firesprite.' There's also a range of Callistemons or bottlebrushes that attract a variety including fairy wrens.
  • Think about plants that flower at different times of the year so that you've got a food source all year round in your garden.

If you have any questions of course, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Insect Deterrent Planting in Design Elements

April 8th, 2020


Planting to Deter Mosquitos
The warmer months of the year can become the bane of a gardeners life, or in fact anyone who likes the outdoors, if hordes of insects invade your personal space. 
I’m talking mainly mosquitos,  because they bite, but flies can just be just as annoying if your relaxing in your garden, or having friends and family over for a bbq. 
So what can we do to deter them?

Pelargonium graveolens: scented geranium

I'm talking with Glenice Buck, consulting arborist and landscape designer 

There are plenty of foliage plants that have a particular fragrance which deter insects, but you have to plant a lot of them, not just one or two.

Brushing the foliage releases the scents, so plant them close to where you entertain.
Most successful plants are what you think of as herbs: mint, basil, lemon scented verbena, sage.
Catnip, lavenders, scented geraniums, bee balm (Monarda spp.)
The biggest tip is not to expect the lone rosemary shrub or Tea tree Mozzie Blocker (Leptospermum liversidgei) , to do that heavy lifting in terms of fragrance. 

Mozzie Blocker tea tree.
Plant them right around the area where you sit and enjoy your garden so they act as a buffer zone between you and the insects.
  • You need an armarment of plants between you and the invading hordes.

If you want to know more or if you have any questions about plants to deter mosquitos, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener NEW African Daisies in Plant of the Week

April 3rd, 2020


African Daisy: Osteospermum sp

The daisy plant family (Asteraceae) is one of the biggest in the world. 
In fact it includes 32,000 species and 1,900 genera and 13 sub-families. 
The seeds of the osteospermums are quite hard. 

All are classified as sub-shrubs with green leaves and 90% of Osteospermums that you see for sale are from the same species.
Botanical Bite:
The daisy flower contains outer sterile ray florets (what look like petals) and the inner part of the daisy, or the 'eye' contains hundreds of tube like flowers and are referred to as disc florets.

Osteospermum sp.
We all know what daisy flowers look like, but what are modern day breeders doing with the colours and shapes? 


Is the centre of Osteospermums always a blue eye?
So let’s find out . 
I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley, horticulturist and owner of the Green Gallery nursery. 
PLAY: Osteospermum family_25th March 2020 
  • What about those daisies that have no centre?

With the fully double flowers, the disc florets that contain the sexual organs, have been genetically replaced  with petals making the flower fully double. These varieties cannot close at night, unlike the singles. 

  • Most Osteospermum's have a blue 'eye.' Any other colour?
There are two cultivars that Jeremy grows with different coloured centres:
Voltage Yellow has a yellow centre.

Osteospermum 3
White Lightning, creamy white with a cream white centre.
The doubles cannot close at night because of the amount of petals in the centre.
There's a range called the 3D's which include yellows, reds, oranges and many shades of pink.

3D's have names like Violet  Berry, Banana Shake-usually with two tone colours.Jeremy mentioned that he used to grow 80 different colours of African daisies. Can you think of 80 different colours? 

  • Jeremy'sTop Tip:
Osteo's love food, or fertiliser. The more food, the more flowers.
  • Can you think of 80 different colours?Nope? 


Well, Jeremy now only grows 30 different colours and I bet you would be hard pressed to think of more than 7. 
  • Funnily enough the classic white petals with blue centres are still the best sellers.

Real World Gardener Featuring Frangipanis part 1

March 5th, 2020

Frangipanis and...


Some plants develop a following or have societies created around them, where fellow collectors swap cuttings, ideas and seeds of that particular genus. 

JJ's Desert Sunrise photo Susan Newie

Frangipanis are tropical trees are loved by many collectors, and funnily enough, these collectors are going for the darker coloured flowers, like the dark reds, or almost black flowers.

  • But it’s not only the colour of the flowers that drives collectors crazy, it’s the size of the flowers and how they lookEvery so often that present a show, usually annually or biannually to sell some of their plants to the public.

This is the time to pick up something rare and exciting that you will never find in a nursery, garden centre let alone a big box store, and it’s not to be missed. 
Let’s find out more.
I'm talking with Anthony Grassi, President of the Frangipani Society of Australia. 

Anthony, mentioned the Moragne hybrids. 
Bill Moragne is the father of Plumeria breeding.


A professional horticulturist in Hawaii during the 1950’s he pioneered and perfected the cross breeding/hybridizing technique for frangipanis. 
His best hybrids set the standard years ago and they still do today.

Why Doesn't My frangipani flower?

  • It may be too young. 
When you first buy your frangipani plant, whether just a cutting or in a pot, it will most likely flower in the first year. The second year, it will put all its energy into growing strong roots and lengthening branches.
While it's still young, the stems will need a minimum of 2 years before the wood is ready again to produce buds and flower. The same applies, if you prune it.
  • After that, you may need to think about your fertilising regime.
Anthony recommends Sudden Impact for Roses, but following it up with a couple of applications of potash granules applied in spring and summer.
  • The third factor is, sunlight. 
Is your frangipani growing in full all day sun?
If it's not getting enough sun,  a minimum of 6 hours, it will resolutely fail to flower.
Not all the colour variations have strong perfume, but quite a few have flowers that are 10cm across, and imagine that amplified with a bunch of flowers,.
You end up with a cluster of flowers the size of a basketball.
Now that’s something to see.


If you want to know more or if you have any questions about where to get these amazing cultivars, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Billy Buttons in Plant of the Week

December 22nd, 2019


Pycnosurus globusus: Billy Buttons

Do you like the sound of a plant that has flowers like buttons the size of your thumb but on stalks, with grey strappy leaves?billy%2Bbuttons%2Bflower.jpg

What if I tell you it’s an Australian native, a perennial and loves dry weather, would you be interested then?

I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley native plant expert and horticulturist. 

Let’s find out about it

Billy buttons is a dense groundcover that spreads around 50cm in width.

Supported by an underground rhizome which allows it spread.

Grow it from seed, grow it from division, but just grow this sturdy groundcover like plant with yellow buttons made up of thousands of tiny flowers on tall stalks.

  • Botanical Bite: The flower is a pseudanthium consisting of between three and eight florets surrounded by bracts.
  • The petals are joined to form a small tube and the florets with their surrounding bracts are yellow or golden-yellow.
  • each flower head may contain over a thousand individual flowers.

Best is less humid climates, although it can be grown in temperate regions of the east coast.

Short lived perennial, 3-4 years.


Real World Gardener Dandelions in Grow Your Gealth

December 12th, 2019


Dandelion: Taraxacum officinale

I’ve talked about weeds on this program, not just controlling weeds but eating weeds.

It’s not something that I’ve got my head around yet, but one weed that is being showcased today has been used in herbal medicine and nutrtition for quite a while.

Apparently it’s good for your liver.



Let’s find out what it is.

I'm talking with Simone Jeffries, naturopath, nutritionist and wellness coach of


The leaf has a serrated edge forming a basal rosette, with a strong taproot.

Dandelion flowers have only ray florets, and no disc florets, therefore no centre.

Milky sap comes from the stem.

It’s good though that dandelion coffee or tea has the same health benefits. 

  • Simone recommends eating the leaf because they are bitter. 
  • Bitterness is good for us, because it stimulates the appetite.

Dandelion leaves are best when young because they become more bitter with age.

Add to a salad, incorporate into a pesto or mix it in with a juice.

The dandelion root is beneficial also, being made into tea or dandelion coffee.

Contains high amounts of iron and calcium.

You can slow bake the root until its brittle, then you can grind it up to make your own tea or coffee.

  • As always, make sure you can identify the weed correctly before consuming it.
  • Also don’t collect the weeds on roadsides or nature strips, because you don’t know what animal has left its message on them or if they have been sprayed with herbicide. 

If you have any questions for me or for Simone please contact us or write in.


Real World Gardener Swamp Banksia in Plant of the Week

December 6th, 2019


Banksia robur: Swamp Banksia

Here we have a small tree that’s gnarly and twisted but its scientific name suggests that it will grow into a strong upright tree, possibly an English oak.

Regardless of the fact that the tree is nothing like an English oak, even though it is robust, the botanical name still remains.


Banksia robur photo Adrian O'Malley


Which is strange, because botanists seem to like to change scientific names on a regular basis.


Let’s find out about it


I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

The flower spikes appear in autumn and winter, perfect for providing food for nectar feeding birds when food is scarce.

Not grey leaves this time, but they’re really large, up to 30cm in length and quite leathery, with wonderful bluish green flowers.


As Adrian says, if you buy a small Banksia robur expecting it to grow into a shrub, it may just start going sideways and there’s no pruning that will make it go upwards.




Banksia robur photo Adrian O'Malley

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