Garden Life - June 2011
PUBLISHED: 10:45 01 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:38 20 February 2013
Mark Smith who has over 24 years experience in the horticultural industry , working as plant manager at two of the county's best plant nurseries answers your gardening questions
Ive been given a Japanese Maple in a pot and told that they are difficult to grow. How should I look after it? Justine from Belper
Japanese Maples (Acers) do have a reputation for being difficult but this is simply not true. If you decide to keep it in a decorative pot, make sure it is very well watered in the summer months (water it most days), as all plants tend to dry out quicker when kept in pots. If you decide to plant it in the ground then dig a hole about 6 inches bigger than the pot its in now, making sure the soil at the bottom of the hole is broken up. Acers do not like clay soils but will grow happily in a neutral soil which happens to be most garden soils. I would always mix some Ericaceous compost with some of the soil going back in the hole. DONT feed it with bone meal or growmore and you DONT need to wrap it up in winter.
I have had my standard bay tree for a number of years now, but all the leaves are brown. Is it dead? Mo from Derby
The quickest way to tell is to scratch the stems below the leaves with your finger nail or a coin. If its bright green underneath then its alive, if its pale green its 50/50, if its brown then its dead unfortunately.
I have noticed lots of palms in my area are dead and mine looks dead too. Is there anything I can do? Mr Harrison from Derby.
If its a Cordyline palm then first you should squeeze the trunk. If its hard then theres a chance it will come back and re-shoot anywhere up the trunk. If the trunk is soft then its rotten you could grow a climber like a clematis up it as a feature, which saves having to dig it out and the expense of replacing it with something as big.
Email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.