Real World Gardener Bring Plants Back to Life in Plant Doctor

June 11th, 2020

PLANT DOCTOR

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.

    Buxus%2Bwith%2Bdead%2Bbranchlets%2B3.jpg
    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

Buxus%2Bburnt%2Bleaves.jpg
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 www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au 

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