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Black Soil

Frequently asked questions

How do I treat black spot on my roses ?

Fertilise them in Spring and Summer to encourage strong and healthy growth.    Remove badly affected leaves and put them in the bin to stop the spread.   Water in the morning so that moisture has time to evaporate during the day.   Water the base of the rose and not the foliage.   Spray with a Black Spot fungicide in Spring and Summer to combat the spread of this fungus.

How do I prune my roses?

Remove any stems which are crossing over and rubbing against each other,  remove any dead wood (to a healthy outward facing bud) and prune out older wood to encourage fresh flowering stems.   This should be done when the plants are dormant.    Hybrid tea roses should be pruned to an open vase shape, whereas floribundas can be pruned to a more rounded shape.

How often should I water my plants?

This one can be tricky.. But a general rule of thumb is to probe the soil with your finger … to see whether there is moisture there (around an inch below the surface)  Generally speaking, plants need to be watered for the first couple of growing seasons (Spring and Summer) then they should be watered when there are extended periods of dry.   Plants that like cool roots can be mulched every Spring to reduce evaporation.

How do I improve clay soil?

Adding organic matter in the form of manure, compost or mulches like sugar cane or pea straw will break down clay soil over time.   Also, digging in gypsum will help to break down soil particles and make your soil more friable.    Plant choice also plays a major role when dealing with clay soil.  Some plants can cope with it better than others.   Callistemon for example, can cope with clay much better than grevilleas.

When should I feed my plants?

In Ballarat and surrounding areas which experience Spring frosts.. We wait until the danger of frost has passed before feeding our plants.    If you feed them and encourage fresh new growth, this tender new growth can be burned by frost… so it’s best to wait.     We stock Harry’s plant food which has a lovely range for your acid loving plants.    They respond so quickly as it contains readily available nutrients and slow release as well.   For your natives, we have a low phosphorus blend which works beautifully on a range of native plants.

What is the difference between compost and mulch?

Compost is a soil improver, it supports healthy microbial activity in the soil.   This plays an important role in the uptake of nutrients and enhances a plants ability to grow with vigour and strength!     Mulch suppresses weed growth and helps reduce evaporation.   It also can keep your roots cool, which some plants… like Camellias, LOVE!

What's wrong with my Protea?

Proteas (and Grevilleas and leucadendrons etc etc) LOVE AND NEED good drainage.  They naturally survive in areas with very little rainfall, so they become rather unhappy when the soil doesn’t drain well or when they are overwatered.   Grow them in pots with native mix if drainage is an issue at your place.   They also don’t cope with rich soil.   Lisa can talk about this till the cows come home … so, you know where to come if you want to hear all about phosphorus intolerance in PLANTS IN THE PROTEA FAMILY


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