Through the year, I have quite a few visitors at my “Help and Advice” desk. Many of these guests bring me pictures or samples of ailing plants. Inevitably, the first question they ask is “What’s wrong with my plant?” and “What do I need to spray on it to fix it?”
We in have numerous products on our shelves designed to combat the various pests and diseases that abound in our temperate, moist climate. However, sometimes the better question might be: “What are my plant’s ‘cultural’ requirements, and how do I best meet them to keep it as healthy as possible?”
Just like people, plants have certain preferences as to food, temperature and even sunlight. Some folks are sun lovers and love the heat. If they don’t get it, they get “the Blues”. Some enjoy spicy food, others bland. If we eat the wrong diet, our health suffers. Plants are the same way. If you put the right plant in the right place, you will often minimize or even eliminate future problems with pest and diseases and generally prevent plant failure altogether. Many plant problems have nothing to do with pests or diseases. Most problems have everything to do with putting the wrong plant in the wrong place.
Here are a few examples:
Wrong location: Planting a sun lover in the shade or a shade lover in the sun. The result? No flowers, weak growth, sunburn, the list goes on.
Wrong soil type: Poor drainage, heavy clay, sandy or dry soil. Some plants thrive in fast draining soil, others like their feet wet.
Wrong soil PH: Correct soil PH will enable a plant to “take up” the available nutrients it wants, the wrong PH will literally “lock up” the nutrients, making them unavailable to the plant. Blueberries like acidic soil, while Lilacs prefer neutral to slightly alkaline soils. Wrong PH can affect plant vigor and blooming.
Watering issues: Daphne hate being over-watered while ferns enjoy moist soil. Root rot is a common problem here as a result of our poor draining soil.
Wrong climate: Planting a non-hardy or Tropical plant out in the cold.
Wrong fertilizer: Not enough, too much, wrong time, or wrong type can all effect growth, flowering and vigor.
Injuries and problems from:
– Improper planting (i.e. too deep)
– Pruning incorrectly, too much or at the wrong time
– Severe Weather (cold, heat)
– Animals (deer, rabbit)
– Mower or string trimmer damage
Insects and / or diseases: we will discuss those more in depth later…. And yes, we have a spray for that!
By Rob Sculley/Shorty’s Help and Advice