Friday, January 22, 2010

Nurseryman's Tip

Coming out of winter in this part of the world we can start to get the garden back in shape. Sorting your container plants can be a task tackled even on wet days in the dry comfort of your garden shed or greenhouse.

Like the rest of the population us gardeners are watching the pennies or cents to make ends meet while still maintaining comfortable and attractive surroundings. However we want pleasant surroundings and love to garden, that should not change and indeed it should get even stronger as the garden becomes our refuge. So for many of us thrifty is the new nifty.

FitzGerald Nurseries are producers of container plants that you can see at . I guess one might assume we like it when people have to replace plants? not necessarily so! Like any good professional we want to give value and help your plants mature into a feature in your garden. We want to be as proud of your plants as you are. You may or may not buy less but you will recommend our plants to your friends and family and hey we dont need to sell millions as we are not some big mass producer of disposable products. I personally like it when our plants give you value and you are interested enough to keep them alive, we all need a bit of maintenance now and then. Besides large container plants can be expensive to replace with like sized specimens so I want to give some tips I have learned as a nurseryman when I want to save that plant that's special to me. Over the years I have seen the behavior of plants and their fight to survive far outweighs our comprehension. Plants like humans vary in their resilience but give them a chance and they are survivors. Remember the basis to a healthy plant is similar to the basis of a healthy human nutrition, water, shelter and suitable climate environment so choose your care plan to match your plant. Choose your plants to match your realistic care limitations.

My first tip of 2010 is in relation to containerized Cordyline which is one of the most popular temperate region container plants, and one of our best sellers. Cordyline is used now even in colder regions of the world for its exotic looks. Compared even to 10 years ago there is an amzing range of shapes and colours available. I have often used the following trick this time of year as root growth begins again. This trick is ideal for larger Cordyline that have become unstable or had root rot over winter. I come across a lot of one off attractive mutations in my work which cannot be replaced easily and this little trick has saved many of these special Cordyline over the years.

Here is how you do it.

Take your plant out of the container and using a sharp knife cut off about 40% to 50% of those damaged roots shaping a tidy root ball. A bit more may be necessary if roots have badly rotted but ensure a sufficient core remains that will keep the plant anchored stably in the container. Plunge at least 6 to 8 inches of stem into a pot of moist well drained potting compost. Fill the container the rest of the way to the top. Ensure you use a good quality compost, I use a compost with 30% well composted pine bark but other good quality materials can be used. Firm the compost gently against the stem to help minimise movement as you fill the pot to the brim with the compost. Keep your Cordyline patient in a very sheltered spot or designate some sheltered hospital recovery area in your yard, garden or ideally a greenhouse. After a few weeks new roots will appear and begin to sustain the plant. During this period I must stress again it is essential to keep the plant stable in the container. Cordyline roots very easily from a trunk as old as 3 to 5 years once given the chance. I have even re-rooted a completely rootless plant with a 3 ft stem by burying in good garden soil in March and tieing to a strong iron rod for stability.

If the top growth on your Cordyline has also been damaged you can peel off some of the damaged leaves but be careful not to take off functionally sound leaves even if unattractive for for a time. Some removal of leaves will prevent the plant catching the wind if kept outdoors and reduce rocking in the wind as the plant establishes. You need your foliage to help your root recovery by allowing photosynthesis to occur. Keep the compost moist as Cordyline does like moisture but does not like cold waterlogged conditions. My experience has been that Cordyline treated this way given a little care for the rest of the season will go on for many more productive years in larger containers.

I hope this helps and if any questions just make a comment below.