There are many causes of plant damage and not just those caused by pests or disease. Sometimes it can be due to natural causes such as wind or frost and other times it may be that your plants are being incorrectly fed or watered. In this article we are going to explore a few different causes of plant and tree damage in your garden.
One of the most common causes of damage to plant pots is either by under or over watering. It can be difficult to diagnose exactly whether the plant as had too much or too little water as the symptoms can be very similar. If a plant does not receive the correct level of water then the plant will tend to be subject to either leaf curling, stem drooping or leaf drop. Both conditions can also cause leaves to turn yellow or brown. We recommend that you check the soil in pot plants and if it feels dry, it will need watering.
Plants should be fed little and often. Large doses of feed all at once can cause various problems including leaf decolouration, plant vigour and the ability to flower and produce fruit. We tend to use a general feed that includes trace elements as it is unlikely that the plant is deficient in just the one nutrient and by using a general feed, you should cover all bases. If you need to replace lost elements quickly then a foliar feeding with liquid seaweed extract is recommended.
Frost is particularly problematic to east facing plants as the morning sun can cause the frost to thaw quickly, which in turn ruptures the cells and kills the flower. Fruit tress can also be badly affected and you might want to hose over the frozen flowers to ensure the tree defrosts slowly. For plants that have been damaged by frost, time is the only solution and eventually new, unaffected growth will appear. Dead, frost damaged stems should be cut back to live wood just above healthy shoots.
Due to the scorching that can be created by wind, plants will lose water through their leaves faster than it can be replaced. This causes leaves to have shiny or scorched looking marks, a grazed or bruised appearance or they may turn brown. Plants most affected by the wind tend to be woodland species such as Acer palmatum cultivars, therefore, this particular plant should be grown in a sheltered area of the garden. There is no need to worry if a plant is occasionally subject to wind as the damaged leaves will eventually be replaced with new ones.
The ideal time to plant a tree is during the autumn. This is because the soil will still contain some warmth, the new tree’s foliage will have dropped and its wood ripened. This means that it will be better able to heal the wounds created by root pruning and take root in its new place before winter sets in. The shorter the time between lifting it from its old place and replanting it, the better. Spring planting is more usual in heavy soils and cold situations.
A properly planted and cared for tree will easily out live a human. The process involved in planting a tree is described below:
1. Dig a hole which is wide enough to accommodate the roots of the tree and approximately 50cm deep. Fork well-rotted garden compost or manure into the bottom of the hole and then knock in a short, stout stake.
2. Next, you will need to prune the roots. When pruning, trim towards the ends with a sharp knife, making a slightly sloping backwards cut. Broken or bent rents will also be to be removed. If your tree has been out of the ground for some time its advised to soak the roots in water overnight to make pruning easier.
3. Once the roots are ready, the tree can be positioned in the hole. Put the soil back in the ground and tread down using your foot.
4. Fasten the tree to the stake with a tree tie. Water the tree in if the soil is dry and then lay a 8cm thick mulch of organic matter on the surface of the soil.
Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to pruning trees in your garden.
…check variegated tress and remove plain green shoots when you see them, at any time of year, or they will take over as they grow faster than variegated shoots.
…remove any dead, broken or diseased branches with loppers or a pruning saw as soon as you see them.
…buy a well-shaped tree in the first place. Look for one with about 5 main branches spaced evenly around the top of the trunk.
…feel obliged to prune a tree just because you think you should. Most ornamental trees can be left pretty much alone if they were a good shape to start with.
…choose a lopsided tree or one with very few branches – it will take a lot of time and effort to improve the shape.
…chop and hack here and there. If you need to prune, take off a whole branch back to the junction with a bigger one.
Once a tree has been planted it should not just be forgotten about as it will still need care and attention in the early stages of growth. Trees will easily out live a human given the right assistance. This article will provide you with some useful information to ensure your trees last long into the future.
The ideal time to plant a tree is during autumn as the soil is still warm and there will be plenty of rainfall to help the tree establish in time for next summer. If for any reason your tree was planted during the summer, it will need watering during dry spells to keep the roots moist. We recommend that each spring you apply mulch around the tree, at least 2.5cm in thickness, using well-rotted organic matter such as compost. After mulching, the tree should be fed using a general fertilizer such as blood, fish and bone in a circle around the base of the tree. This should be applied at about the same distance from the trunk as the longest branches reach out to, because this is where the feeding roots are found.
When staking trees, be sure to use proper tree ties where the buffer is placed between the trunk and the stake – this will stop the bark being rubbed off in windy weather. As your tree grows, regularly check the tree tie and loosen them as the trunk grows to avoid cutting through the tree. Tree trunks can be protected with tree guards or wire netting if rabbits are nibbling away at the bark which can weaken or even kill the tree.
If the tree is planted in grass, it’s advised to leave a bare circle of soil around the base of the tree to prevent the grass from competing for water and nutrients. Care should be taken when using a lawn mower or rotary trimmer around newly planted trees because bark can easily be damaged.
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