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Archive for June, 2011

Lets talk about diseases again. At this time of year – if you’re lucky enough to be having rain in reasonable quantities – you may see a few unhappy plants. Yellowing over winter can actually have a whole range of different causes but where there are drainage problems ie waterlogging, they are most likely to be due to something like Pythium which is a root rot fungus. Pythium is one of those bugs that is everywhere but tends to raise its head when things aren’t right. And that often means soil aeration is lower than it should be – and the cause of low soil aeration is often waterlogging. Now you can’t always assume that if there’s been a ton of rain that there will be waterlogging. If you truly are on deep gutless sand its highly unlikely. But if there’s a layer of clay down below somewhere then you may well have water backing up into the root zone and that means problems if its sitting there for any length of time. And when plants are stressed they can actually send out chemical messages that tell any bugs in the vicinity to come hither!

Pythium root rot can come and go with the conditions. So you may see plants yellowing off, then coming right for a while, then going backwards again and so forth. And surprisingly, Pythium is often a problem in summer when its really hot – for exactly the same reasons but at that time of year it’s because people are overwatering. Pouring the water on because its hot – and lo and behold, if there’s any impediment to drainage – you have problems.

So what should you do if you suspect Pythium? Well the first thing is to consider why you have it and when you sort that out they should come right. No point in pouring chemicals on if you don’t fix the underlying problem.

The other thing to consider with root rots is that when they happen plants will lose a significant proportion of their roots for a while. So they will not only be out of balance with respect to the top but they also won’t need as much water. So you may have to reduce their canopy temporarily. This probably applies more in summer than winter.

Which brings me to the subject of wilting. Some plants WILL wilt in summer. No matter how much water you pour on. Their roots simply cannot get enough water up to the top where it’s needed. In that case you really can’t do much unless you’re able to cool the plant down by some light overhead watering. And if you’re not a commercial grower it probably doesn’t matter that much unless you have a really bad case of wilting that irreparably damages a stem when it collapses. Plants wilting in winter is a bad thing. It generally means their roots are damaged in some way so they can’t keep the water up to the tops. Waterlogging or poor aeration is often the cause. This is why you NEVER keep plants in pots in a saucer full of water.

Now keeping plants indoors is a whole other topic for another day. Maybe next time.

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I promised I’d start getting some of my pics up on the web so here they are

I haven’t finished adding or labelling yet so please bear with me.

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Since I’ve professed a love of our endemic flora I think its about time I talked about some of them! We have quite a big garden and it has a wide range of native plants in it from all over Australia. I have a particular fondness for grevilleas, hakeas, banksias and verticordias. Since I haven’t been that diligent in uploading all my flower photos so I will direct you to my partner’s picasa gallery where you can view heaps of Banksias, quite a few Hakeas and miscellaneous other species from our block. I haven’t got around to compiling all my verticordia pics but when I do I”ll let you know. So anyway you can go there and have a browse.

Banksias do really well at our place and we have quite a range of them. They do really well at our place. I guess my favourite is one from Albany way – B. cuneata, the matchstick banskia. It has the tiniest flowers of bright pink and lime green and doesn’t really look like a banksia. Just beautiful! It has a rellie up this way –B. ilicifolia. Not common in nurseries, we got it from the Banksia Farm in Mt Barker – well worth a visit if you’re down that way and they sell plants and seed as well. They also have a lot of dryandras (now also banksias thanks to molecular taxonomy but not accepted by everyone). Dryandras don’t get much publicity but they are also amazing plants – some of them have the most incredible foliage and their form is so architectural – well under utilised in my book. OK, I’ll get some of my dryandra pics up too! Ones like Dryandra drummondi and D. folisissima (well OK, B. drummondi and B. foliosissima). Also not common in nurseries and guess where I got mine – The Banksia Farm.

One of the really spectacular grevilleas that’s now relatively mainstream in nurseries is G. petrophiloides. I have about 5 of them and one especially has just taken off like a rocket. It obviously likes the clay we have in our soil. I’ve also been lucky enough to get some Grevillea scapigera which is a really critically endangered grevillea from Corrigin which is a groundcover with the most gorgeous creamy white flowers held aloft above the foliage.

The Australian Native Plants Society has quite a lot of pics on their website if you want to see more species and there are a number of study groups which specialise in various genera. I belong to the grevillea group which has a website on yahoo groups, also with lots of piccies.

We have plants in flower all year round. For example at the moment there’s Eucalyptus caesia and Hakea laurina out, also Hypocalymma xanthopetallum, Thryptomene baeckaceae and Eucalyptus woodwardii to name a few. And the birds love them all! We have heaps of birds come round, even a pair of rainbow bee eaters. The black cockies love our pine tree and the jarrahs and sit up in them and totally vandalise them. We often end up with about a foot of euc sprigs under the trees and pine cones all over the driveway!

OK I’d better go and upload a few photos so you can see more of what I’m talking about. I’ll come back later and let you know where they are.

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