Real World Gardener Yellow Tea Tree is Plant of the Week

August 19th, 2020


Scientific Name:Leptospermum flavescens 'Cardwell.'
Common Name: Yellow Tea tree
Family: Myrtaceae
Growth: 1.5- 2m in height
Distribution: south coast of New South Wales up to far north Queensland.
Native Habitat: sandstone derived soils.
Flowering: late winter to summer (August to January.) Flowers are cup shaped, creamy white.
Tea trees when they are in heavy flower, you can't see the leaf because they are so floriferous!
  • Leptospermum Cardwell is a tea tree with intensely fragrant leaves all year round, and is covered in typical tea tree flowers from late winter to summer.
Leptospermum 'Cardwell' is a small tidy bush with a weeping habit. Looking similar to a miniature willow tree.


After flowering the little nut like fruits appear on the bush.
I'm talking with Adrian O'Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

PLAY: Leptospermum Cardwell_5th August 2020 
Tea trees are not necessarily long lived so getting 5 years out of this small shrub is probably good going.

Plant tea trees in fairly sandy or light soils rather than heavy clay soils.
Bird and insect attracting makes it a lovely addition to your garden. 
Look out for the “Cardwell’ cultivar because of it’s weeping habit and how it’s covered in tiny flowers that make it stand out like a beacon when planted in your garden.

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 Privacy With Container Plants in Plant Doctor

May 1st, 2020


Plants for Privacy in a Container

What do you do if you want a plant for privacy but there’s either not enough soil in that location or you’re in an apartment? 
I’ve talked about big trees in pots with horticulturist, Adrian O’Malley from Plant of the Week, before, but it doesn’t have to be just about trees for privacy. 
So what can it be? 
Let’s find out . 

I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from 
PLAY: Plants for Privacy in pots_15th April 2020 
Choose as large a pot/container as you can accommodate in the spot where you want to achieve some privacy.
For my Magnolia 'Little Gem,' I have a 60cm terracotta round pot.
The disadvantage with round terracotta or ceramic pots, is that they can be bowled over in strong winds.
Mine has a large crack down one side having been blown to the ground numerous times during strong winds.

Magnolia Little Gem surround by orchids. 
Cracked terracotta pot after being knocked over in strong winds.
There is of course the problem of replacing the soil which over a few years, will slump.

Rejuvenating Your Large Potted Plant

  • TIP: employ help to push the container gently to the side then ease out the tree or large shrub.
  • Use this opportunity to give the plant a root prune, about 10% all over.
  • Replace any loose soil with good quality potting mix and only a couple of handfuls of compost, whether homemade or store bought.
If you really want a sure fire winner, then choose Murraya paniculata or commonly called Murraya, for your screening option. 
Yes, I know it’s pretty common, but that’s a good choice if you’re prone to forgetting to prune it. 
A lesser known and somewhat handsome plant that Steve mentioned is Radermachera “Summer Scent.” 
Originating from Southern China, Summerscent has lush, glossy, compact foliage. 
Best of all this plant has clusters of white to pale pink scented flowers that flower profusely throughout the warmer months. 
A perfect plant for hedging or screens as it responds well to pruning and adds a tropical feel to the garden. 
Summerscent grows well in full sun and shade as well as indoors if kept in a well lit position. 
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 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 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

Real World Gardener Pruning 101 Aftercare in Design Elements

December 6th, 2019


Pruning 101 After Care

You’ve pruned the branches on that tree so you can walk underneath it, but what do you need to be careful of?

Are there trees that don’t really need much pruning at all?

What care should be taken when you finished all that pruning?

All these questions answered and more.

I'm talking with Jason Cornish from

Let’s find out.


For grafted trees, or shrubs, this includes roses, if there is a shoot below the graft, called a sucker, that must come off because it belongs to the vigorous understock.

If left there, this shoot will take over from the upper part of the tree or shrub, which may actually die off if you don’t remove the sucker.


Pruning a peach tree

Pruning fruiting trees is best carried out when buds have begun to swell but not fully open, if you want to do formative pruning.

Remove about one -third of growth each year, keeping in mind that peach trees fruit on one your old wood.

Unlike other fruit trees, peach trees need to be opened up in the centre so that the branches form a vase shape.

Removal of crossing or dead twigs or branches can be done at anytime, as seen in the photo.


Real World Gardener Pruning Evergreen vs Deciduous part 3 in Design Elements

November 29th, 2019


  • Pruning 101: Deciduous vs Evergreen.

Deciduous and evergreen plants have different pruning needs.

Have you ever had a shrub, say philadelphus that you thought wasn’t performing-no flowers for several years, so you transplanted it or pulled it out?

Perhaps you weren’t timing it right? Philadelphus_coronarius_Sweet_Mock_Orang

I'm talking with Jason Cornish from

Let’s find out.


Marianne's Tips on Pruning

Pruning group

Pruning method

Time of pruning

Examples of plants

Flower on current season’s growth

Old wood thing. New growth shortened.

Winter/early spring

Roses, abelia, buddleia. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Flowers on previous season’s growth

Immediately after flowering


Spiraea, Rondeletia,Prunus glandulosa, Acacia, Callistemon, Grevillea

Flowering on older wood and spurs

Maintain tidy shape

After flowering

Prunus cerasifera & other prunus species

For showy fruits

Cut away most of leaders

 After fruiting if needed

Cotoneaster, pyracantha, Berberis spp.

For showy foliage

Prune 50% of growth’ feed and water

Winter to spring

Abutilon, Aucuba japonica-gold dust plant. Buxus.  Hebe, Euonymus.

Non flowering evergreen

Do not prune back beyond green foliage into older wood

Late winter


If you don’t know what shrub or tree that you’ve got, the best advice is to wait until it flowers or sets fruit, and then prune after that.

  • In the case of philadelphus, as soon as the shrub had finished flowering, cut out all of the stems which have just flowered.
  • Prune them back to around a third of their length. They will soon start to produce new stems which will provide the flowering stems for next year. Don’t just prune little bits off the end 

If you have any questions for me or for Jason, please write in to realworldgardener@gmail.comtr5555

Real World Gardener Pruning 101, When to Prune in Design Elements

November 21st, 2019

When To Prune

pruning%2Bhedge.jpgPruning is one of those jobs that eventually every gardener that grows anything will undertake.

Now that you’re committed to pruning that tree or shrub or hedge, what is the most important consideration do you think?

Do you know the name of the species of plant?

Do you know when it’s about to flower or set fruit?

So when should you prune it?


Well, today it’s about when’s the best time to prune.

Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Jason Cornish from

Jason's tip is to wait until after flowering before commencing pruning as a general rule.

Pruning hedges is different because the flowers are not the feature, but the neatness is.

Depending on what the plant species is, for hedging, pruning occurs 2-3 times a year.

fore example, viburnum hedges.

For vigorous hedges such as Plumbago, you will need to prune 4-5 times per year.

  • TIP:If you don’t know what shrub or tree that you’ve got, the best advice is to wait until it flowers or sets fruit, and then prune after that.
  • Jason's General Rule Nr 2 : Jason’s strategy is lightly and often.

If you have any questions for me or for Jason, please write in to

Real World Gardener Rock Isotoma in Plant of the Week

November 16th, 2019


Rock Isotoma: Isotoma axillaris

Family: Lobeliaceae

Fancy a shrubby ground cover plant with purple starry flowers that’s a real standout?

Of course, we all want those in our garden because they fit into any bare spot.

Let’s find out why we should grow it.


Isotoma axillaris

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

Rock isotoma is a flowering perennial that grow up to 40cm high x 40cm wide.

Upright stems are often a purplish colour and covered with short, soft hairs quickly becoming smooth.

The leaves are about 1.5–15 cm long and 0.5–5 mm wide with deep, toothed, linear lobes sharply pointed at the apex.

Rock Isotoma grows naturally in sandstone rock crevices in bushland, but don’t let that stop you from growing it in your garden.

Treat it as a biennial plant, but as it self seeds that’s not really a problem.

You may see if for sale in your local nursery Isotoma ‘Blue Star’

It’s a terrific plant with multibranched stems, that grows into a great mound of lilac-coloured, star-like flowers

If you have any questions either for me or Adrian, why not write in to

Real World Gardener Pruning 101 part 1 in Design Elements

November 16th, 2019


  • Series: Pruning 101

Pruning is one of those jobs that eventually every gardener that grows anything will undertake.

Except of course if you’ve only got a lawn and nothing else, but those gardeners are probably not listening to the radio show or reading this blog.



So over the next 4 weeks, Jason and I will be talking about various pruning jobs and methods.

Today it’s an introduction into what pruning is and different levels of pruning.

Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Jason Cornish from

  • There's several types of pruning.

Tip pruning: removing just the tip of the branches or stems to encourage bushy growth. Using your thumb and middle finger, it's easy to nip out the top couple of leaves at a point just above the next set of leaves lower down. This will stimulate two pairs of leaves to grow from that point.

Light pruning: to remove just the outer leaves without cutting into the semi hardwood or hardwood.

Medium pruning: not a hard prune, but somewhere between  a light prune and removing 30% of growth.

Hard prune: chopping the shrub or tree almost to the ground. A risky undertaking and may result in death of the plant. Some plants such as callistemons and lilly pillies will reshoot from being pruned in this way.

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