Sunday, February 29, 2004

Time for plant rejuvenation

Satish Narula

Give your lawn a fresh look as the days become warmer
Give your lawn a fresh look as the days become warmer

WITH the days getting warmer, there’s a lot of work for the gardeners. The plants have suffered damage or decay in the severe winter and need to be tended before they start new growth. This is essential to avoid lopsided or unplanned growth.

Nature has provided deciduous plants with a mechanism of self-protection through shedding leaves and going dormant. In such plants too there is a need to remove the dead, diseased or strangulating branches. In most of the cases as the sprouting starts, there appear insects like aphids that cause leaf curling, leading to flower and fruit drop or mutilation. Such plants should immediately be sprayed with rogor or metasystox dissolved at one milliliter of water. The treatment has to be repeated after a fortnight.

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In case of evergreen plants, even small-time exposure leads to drying up of leaves, twigs and in some cases even big branches. The dead twigs have to be removed before the new growth starts. In fact, the new growth is facilitated only when the dead portions are removed. Such treatment is most important for ground cover plants. Any mortality or drying of twigs during winter may lead to a ‘blank spot’ within the patterns created with such plants. It happens mostly in case where iresin (kalli patti), alternanthra and lavender are used to create patterns. One can avoid such a situation by regularly watering throughout and feeding before the onset of winter.

Any visual gap created due to plant mortality should immediately be filled. In no case should the distance between plants exceed eight to nine inches. If at all you feel that the pattern has been spoiled and it is difficult to fill the gap with the existing species, you can substitute with species like buddelia, stones or pebbles.

The indoor plants left in the open too are prone to winter injuries. Now that it’s time for new growth, these should be tended to beforehand. If due to drying of leaves a branch becomes too bare, then cut and prune the plant in a way that new growth fills it. The branches so cut could be used as cuttings to prepare new plants. Plants like the monstera, money plant or philodendrons can be given this treatment. You can cut them even near the ground level or base in case these have been planted in pots.

In case of branches bigger than one centimeter, it is essential to smear the cut ends with some disinfectant like blitox slurry.

This feature was published on February 22, 2004