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question time.

Byline: Carolyn Spray

Can I bring dying acer back to life?

Q I repotted my acer Palmatum (Japanese maple) last year but there is no sign of new leaves, although there is colour on the trunk and main branches. I applied new compost and feed at the start of April. What's wrong?

A If there is no sign of new leaves by now I don't hold out much hope. To tell if it is alive inside, snap off branches at the outer edge. If they are brown inside keep cutting back till you get to live green tissue and they may regrow from there.

My yucca's gone yukky

Q I have a yucca plant and the tips of the leaves are going brown. What's causing this?

A I suspect your yucca has dried out in the summer and this has caused the leaves to go brown and dry. In the growing season, April to September, yuccas need plenty of water but, in the winter, reduce watering only so the compost doesn't dry out.

Q My gerbera has a "twin" flower. Two stalks are fused together and a double-headed flower can be seen. Is this normal?

A This is called fasciation, when the stem and flower are fused. It happens randomly to a range of plants but is unlikely to happen next year to your gerbera.

Q Please find enclosed a weed that is driving me mad. I have tried a various of things to get rid of it but nothing works.

A The weed you have is mare's tail or equisetum arvense. The best way to kill it is by first bruising the stems by bending and twisting them to get through the waxy coating then use an extra-strong paint-on weed killer. It is virtually impossible to dig out as even a tiny piece left will re-grow.

Q My grandson's female pet dog came to stay for a few days, scraped up my lawn and marked the grass doing the toilet. How can I treat it?

A If there are dead patches you will need to returf or resow these areas. If you see the dog urinating, pour water on the spot immediately to dilute it and stop damage.

Brilliant baskets

Q I am about to plant up my hanging baskets for the summer. What kind of feeding do you suggest?

A I recommend a controlledrelease fertiliser like Osmocote for a continual feed all summer but also use a high potash liquid feed when watering, like Phostrogen. This way your basket will stay compact and have masses of flowers.

Brush up on your melon flowers

Q I have planted a melon in my greenhouse but am not sure exactly how to grow it.

A Use a balanced liquid feed with plenty of nitrogen and don't forget to help the pollination by brushing the flowers with a soft blusher brush each day. Tie the main stem up to a tall cane and pinch out the side shoots after the second leaf.

Write to Carolyn Spray at Right at Home, Sunday Mail, Central Quay, Glasgow, G3 8DA, or email - but sorry, she cannot reply to each question individually.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 3, 2007
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