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Foliage on tall bay hedge

The bay hedge is 4.5 - 5m tall, multi-stemmed and well established. However the foliage has become very sparce and thin and it is losing its 'screening' ability. What feeds, mulch etc can I give it to encourage it to develop more foliage and to become denser? The hedge is about 15-18 years in situ. It is exposed somewhat to the East wind when it comes, but sheltered mostly by high ground from the prevailing wind. On very stormy days, the top half of the hedge takes the brunt of the wind. There is the usual yellowing and shedding of leaves, but it is very slow at 'filling out' and developing new growth. 270220171, Bray, Co Wicklow Posted: 27/02/2017

Bay and other trees tend to lose their lower growth as they mature, and adverse conditions can increase this.

Try to have no competition for one metre on either side of the hedge.

Apply tree and shrub fertiliser in March and July for 3 years.

Mulch with organic material, 5cm every year for 3 years, then every 2 years. 


spent potato compost

Is it okay to feed my alder trees, fruit trees and shrubs with last year's potato compost. I don't need it for this year's veg beds but I don't want to throw it away. derickc, , Co Monaghan Posted: 22/02/2017

There is no problem at all, except that you might find a few small volunteer potatoes coming up, but these are easily pulled out. Spent compost will act as a mulch aroung young trees and shrubs.


Alkaline loving Rhododendron

We bought a rhododendron specifically produced for alkaline soil a year ago and fed it with the recommended feed but it hasn't grown at all, although the buds are there. All the leaves have gone black at the edges and we're at our wit's end as to what to do next. Quite an expensive mistake maybe?? Arwen, Rathdowney, Co Laois Posted: 31/08/2016

It is probably just adapting to new surroundings and may have needed a heavy watering from time to time, until it has rooted out into the surrounding soil, when it will show new growth, next May.

No feeding is needed except a mulch of ortted leaves each year or two years.




Any idea why my April/May blooming magnolia has gone into full bloom in August. mollser, Leixlip, Co Kildare Posted: 24/08/2016

It is not all that unusual, and is due to exceptionally good growing weather this summer.

  Camellia not flowering

Camellia not flowering

This is a most beautiful Camellia that has been planted in my garden for over three years. It is in a sunny south west facing spot. It has grown nicely since being planted and its foliage is glossy and healthy. The only problem is...is has never flowered. The label (long since gone) showed a red flower but I cannot recollect its name. Its foliage alone warrants it its spot in the garden but I really want to see it flower. Should I move it or is there something I can feed it that might encourage flowering? flowerhill, slgorey@yahoo.ie, Co Wexford Posted: 22/04/2016

Young camellias of some varieties can be slow to flower, but grow well. Others flower as young plants, such as Williamsii types.

It may be suffering competition from neighbouring plants. Reduce competition if this is so.

Mulch with rotted leaves and feed with a feed for ericaceous plants in spring each each year for 3 years. Or an ericaeous liquid feed each from April to September.




farmyard manure & heathers

Is it safe to put farmyard manure around heathers ? redrobin7, Tullamore , Co Offaly Posted: 20/04/2016

Farmyard manure is too rich for heathers unless it is very old...several years. Use it on vegetable ground instead.


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