How to revive plants and restore them to good health

How to revive plants and restore them to good health

Millie knows how to sniff out a bargain at the nursery, and she shares a couple of tips to help you make the most of the bargain bench.

Tip One – Avoid the annuals

Annual plants in punnets or pots that are already most of the way through their lifecycle and have already begun producing flowers or fruit are best avoided. They are past their best, and are unlikely to do any good. Straight to the compost with these ones, and anything showing signs of pest and disease!

Tip Two – Is this the tree for me?

Any large potted trees in the clearance area of your nursery should have their roots thoroughly inspected before you take them home. Pull them out of their pots – if there is a mass of roots, coiling around the pot, peeking out the drainage holes or visible on the surface, give this tree a miss. Heavily pot bound trees are unlikely to ever develop a great root system, and will be at risk of failure and tipping over in the future.

Tip Three – Green is go, brown is no!

If you’re wondering whether a plant is alive or not, here’s a simple tip to locate the cambium layer, even on deciduous plants. Give the bark on the trunk a bit of a scratch with your fingernail – if you can see a nice, fresh, green layer, the plant is alive. If the cambium appears brown, there is no signs of life, and this plant should probably be avoided.

Tip Four – Signs of life

When selecting a shrub from the clearance corner, signs of new growth are always promising, even on plants that have had a rough life! Have a look for new growth appearing on the tips of plants, or from buds at the base of the trunk. And, when you get these home, encourage further growth by pruning of any dead and damaged foliage.

Tip Five – Water is the key

So often, the plants on the bargain bench at the nursery (and even those at home) perform poorly due to water issues – either too much, or too little. For plants, especially ferns that have are suffering from extremely dry soil, the best tip is to cut of the foliage to ground level, and give the pots a deep soaking in water.

Tip Six – New digs

Pot bound plants will need a good rejuvenation of the root system to get them humming again, and the best way to do this is by repotting. A key to successful repotting is to only go up one pot size at a time – too big a size jump, and the plant can suffer from serious transplant shock. Remove any spent flowers from the plant as this will ensure that the plant puts in energy into root production rather than unnecessary flower production.

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