Plant Doctor

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Q. My Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ has lots of young leaves which are yellowing and the growth is very stunted.  I have a neutral soil.  What could be the reason?

A. This sounds like chlorosis on your Pieris.  These plants and others that require ericaceous (acid) conditions, will suffer if they can’t take up iron from the soil.  If the soil is alkaline (chalky) or neutral then the iron can be locked in the soil.  There are a couple of options open to you.  Either transplant the Pieris in April into a container filled with ericaceous soil, or use a product called Sequestrene to add to the soil where the Pieris is already planted.  The container is the longer-term option as the Sequestrene will have to be added at least once every spring.

Q. Please can you help?  My garden is being taken over by wild garlic!  Is there much I can do to eliminate it?

A. Wild garlic is very invasive, as you have now found out!  Really there are only two methods open to you.  Digging the bulbs out by hand with a trowel or spade is the best (but most labour intensive!) especially if it is growing amongst other plants.  You may find you have to sieve the soil to remove all the bulbs.  The best time to do this is late January when the bulbs are starting to come into growth. Make sure you don’t compost them as they will survive in the heap and you will spread them around even more!  The other option is using a spray containing glyphosate, such as Roundup weed-killer.  The best time to spray is when the plants are actively growing before they flower.  Several treatments may well be required, I’m afraid.  Bruising the leaves before spraying will increase the absorption of the chemical.  Choose a dry calm day to do this as you don’t want any weed-killer drift on to other valuable plants.


Q. My lawn is covered in moss.  How can I get the grass back?

A. I have been asked this quite frequently in the last year so I thought I would re-publish this question from a few years ago.  If the drainage is very poor then spiking the lawn in autumn and adding coarse sand will help matters.  Using a spring tine rake or mechanical scarifier will remove dead grass (thatch) and moss.  However if raking is difficult, try a product called Mo Bacter.  This is a unique product that ‘eats’ the moss having killed it first.  No raking required! 




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