Plants are concerned about their health….just like us!

Plants are bombarded by bugs and ailments too. There are some specific remedies available to them but there are many fewer garden chemicals than previously.  So as with us we should try and keep them in the pink with a good diet, lots to drink and not too much stress!

Many of the questions I get are about plant health. Particularly at this time of the year when a lot of plants look a bit ragged with chewed and blotchy leaves. In most cases there is nothing to worry about. Most plants are visited regularly by insects and slugs (they seem to get everywhere these days) and get bits of fungal disease due to both dry and wet weather.

But this is nothing new to them…They would get this sort of treatment in the wild and will obviously shake it off. But there is one big difference. In the wild plants thrive because they naturally grow where they are happiest.

In the garden we have to create those conditions as closely as we can and if we do we will have healthy plants which will cope with most problems.

So here are some simple guidelines on establishing “happy” plants.

1) Take advice. If you would like to have a particular plant in the garden, check the label or ask the garden centre staff if it is suitable. If it is an Acer, for example, it will need an acid soil (or ericaceous soil in a pot );half shade and above all a sheltered position away from cold or hot dry winds which will scorch and shrivel the tender foliage. If you are looking for plants for a particular spot …shady or exposed, again ask for advice.

2) Plant well. Above all plants need a good start in the garden. If the soil is poor –add some planting compost or even some topsoil. If the soil is heavy add a bit of course grit to help drainage. If the soil around the plant is not inviting, it ‘s roots may decide not to venture out!

3) Water well when planting and when growing. Lack of water is the most common cause of plant failure. And remember rain is not reliable as we know this summer. When it comes it may be too heavy and run off or it may not get through the foliage “umbrella”.

4) Food is good. Again get advice on the best feed for planting and to maintain growth. In pots and baskets there is only enough food for 4 to 6 weeks.

5) Good housekeeping helps. Ragged leaves on deciduous shrubs and trees will deteriorate as they approach autumn. Any leaves which look diseased should be picked up after they have fallen to prevent the spread of the disease next year.

So very simply stress-free conditions, food and drink are essential to good plant health!

Don't forget, if you are struggling with plant health, or any other garden issues our team will be happy to talk with you. We also have a Plymouth Garden Centre Facebook Group, PLANT DOCTOR, where you can post photos of the problem and a member of staff, or a member of our growing community will be able to help! Visit the group by clicking on the image below:


Happy Gardening!

Fiona and Derek


Things to do in January

1) Rose bushes can be pruned now and bare root roses can be planted.

2) Cut back ornamental grasses now to just a couple of inches from the ground.

3) Deadhead your pansies and violas

4) Protect plants from frost with a Cloche or mulch

5) Start chitting early potatoes now

Plant of the month

Hedera (Ivy)

Helix varieties are a good choice for the wildlife garden because they attract a large range of insects.

The leaves give shelter to overwintering butterflies and food for emerging caterpillars. The plant provides nesting sites for wrens, sparrows and blackbirds. The berries are eaten by resident birds and winter visitors. Autumn flowers supply nectar for hoverflies, holly blue and tortoiseshell butterflies.