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Thread: Dying plants

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    6
    [align=left]Fior the second year in a row, I bought two lamium and an azalea hardy enough to survive our winters.* I planted the azalea under a tall hickory tree in a well drained spot in our shaded woodland backyard, and the lamium in* another spot. Both areas recieve very limited, spotty sunlight, both are in good soil (clay but well-amended with peat moss and ground up leaves). All three died within six weeks. [/align]

    [align=left]I'm puzzled.* At the same time, I bought and planted two boxwood shrubs, which are doing just fine.* There're also begonias in both spots and they too are doing fine. Can anyone clue me in on why my azaleas and lamium die off? I've been watering and fertilising with Miracle-Gro on both; neither has gotten dried out.[/align]

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Maryland zone 7
    Posts
    3,042
    Hi Elanor,

    So sorry to 'hear' this.* Not really enough info on the symptoms as the plants were dying, but here's some ideas.* I wouldn't suggest amending the soil with peat moss or ground up leaves that aren't well decomposed.* Decomposed leaves are called leaf mold.* Those are fine to use, but leaves that are decomposing deep in the soil near the roots can cause problems by leaving air pockets or taking up nutrients as they decompose.* It's allright to incorporate them into a bed, but not near roots.* Here's some info on peat moss which will soak up all the moisture and is difficult to rewet once dry.
    http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/fac...ndex.html#peat

    I would suggest the incorporation of compost to the soil.* It improves the texture of clay soil, will aid in drainage and adds good microbes.* This it the main page from the site above with good info about using organic material.
    http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/fac...ter/index.html

    You also mention using Miracle Gro after planting.* Most nursery plants already come with a slow release fertilizer in the soil.* It's those round bits about the size of the head of a fancy straight pin and they are usually tan.* It's best not to fertilize for 3 months after planting so your plants could have suffered from fertilizer burn. * I don't recommend the use of synthetic fertilizers.* Synthetics feed the plants and not the soil, leave behind residual salts that aren't good for plants and can cause a flush of lush growth that will attract insect pests.* Feed the soil with organic amendments like compost and you feed the plants too.*

    Azaleas are shallow rooted plants and don't like to be planted deeply.* Could that be part of the problem with them?* These sites might be helpful.
    http://www.rhododendron.org/transplant.htm

    Start here with #12.
    http://www.azaleas.org/faq.html

    Newt

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    6
    [align=left]Thanks for your response.* I didn't know that about synthetic fertilisers and peat moss.* I'll try composting my coffee grounds and vegetable bits from now on too. Is it OK to include the coffee filters in the compost? [/align]
    [align=left]I have avery shaded*area close to the house that*resists just about anything I plant, yet an isolated bunch of myrtle grows there, and a few sickly hosta. The soil there is very clayey-- how to amend an area with compost?* I don't make that much compost. Should I get some garden store manure?[/align]
    [align=left]*Normally we take our leaves (oak, hickory, maple, ash), grind them up with the lawn mower and let them sit on the ground where they deteriorate. The weeds we have appear to love this:* we get lots of woodland phlox, violets, mayapples, toadshade trillium*and later weeds in there. But in the one spot, composted leaves have availed nothing. [/align]
    [align=left]I'm also wondering why the begonias and the boxwoods are doing so well, but the azaleas and lamium died right nearby? The azalea was planted (both times) in the same spot, which is slightly raised, so I don't think burying too deeply is the problem. I've tried putting a rhododendron there too, but it has become very sickly and spindly-- not enough light, I don't think. [/align]

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Maryland zone 7
    Posts
    3,042
    Elanor, sorry I didn't get back to you sooner.* :?* You said, "Is it OK to include the coffee filters in the compost?"* Yes.* Some folks are purists and don't like using the white coffee filters because they are bleached.* If you use the tan or white ones it's still ok by me.* :)*

    You asked, "I have avery shaded area close to the house that resists just about anything I plant, yet an isolated bunch of myrtle grows there, and a few sickly hosta. The soil there is very clayey-- how to amend an area with compost?* I don't make that much compost. Should I get some garden store manure?"

    I would recommend you add 4" of compost and dig it in as deep as you can.* You can purchase compost in bags at just about any garden center. You don't need manure, compost will work just fine.* You could even add chopped leaves and coffee grounds in the fall and let it decompose over the winter.* Then you can plant.* If you are just adding the leaves they are considered 'browns'.* Add some coffee grounds to the mix as they are considered 'greens'.* Get a big bag from Starbucks (free to gardeners) and add that to the leaves.* It will help the leaves to break down faster.

    You asked, "I'm also wondering why the begonias and the boxwoods are doing so well, but the azaleas and lamium died right nearby?"

    Maybe you should have a soil test done for that area.

    Newt

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    6
    [align=left]No problem, thanks for the help!:)[/align]

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Maryland zone 7
    Posts
    3,042
    You are very welcome!* If you ever find out why the azaleas and lamium won't survive there I'd love to know.

    Newt

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