Loads of questions! (houseplant pests, clay soil, Hebes)

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Loads of questions! (houseplant pests, clay soil, Hebes)

Guest
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10 Jan 2004, 21:24 #1

Hello, nice to find a site which actually works - you're doing better than the BBC!!! Here goes, this covers lots of areas so any replies gratefully
received:


1. Houseplants. We have several but they aren't the problem it's the blessed tiny little flies that seem to have taken up residenc in the soil. They
are small, harmless and silent but are constantly drifting in and out of view and driving us all mad. Any idea what they are and what to use to get rid of
them?!


2. Have a heavy clay soil and despite copious amounts of the brown stuff it remains a bit heavy. About 3 years ago bought 2 Hebes (with variagated leaves) and
they were in flower when they were purchased. Well, do you think they have flowered ever again? Nope. Have no idea what the problem is. The same seems to go
for clematis too. Of course in the summer the clay soil turns from quagmire to baked earth so I wonder, do you think it is just lack of water/the need for
masses more water (I do water well early morning/late evening during warm weather but perhaps I am just not doing enough). The variagation has gone - do I need
to use something like blood to ooph up the nitrogen? (But isn't this for foliage growth and I want flowers!!!)? Could just snail damage be enough to put it
off flowering??? It is bitterly disappointing every year to see nothing coming up and flowering. I am very very keen but this is all becoming a bit
disheartening (gawd, I'm making myself feel depressed now!!!!!!).


Any help gratefully received. Look forward to hearing everyone's views. All the best, Isobel.
Last edited by Guest on 02 Mar 2008, 13:55, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: 06 Dec 2003, 20:45

10 Jan 2004, 22:24 #2

For the first problem the small flies are probably scairid flies these live mainly on decaying matter in the compost but may harm the roots if in large quantities. These may be treated by watering the compost with a chemical called imidacloprid available to the amateur gardener as provado this will also keep your plants safe from other pests. for a 6 month period I hope this is of use to you
Regards Richard
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Flowerofshona
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10 Jan 2004, 22:30 #3

The small flies are as a result of the modern composts and where not known of years ago, the best way to prevent them is to use more loam based soils or you could try some liquid derris to kill them off in the soil.

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DeeDee571
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10 Jan 2004, 22:38 #4

Hello and welcome, lets see if I can help with the problems.
1. What colour are the flies on the houseplants? If they are white they would be white fly, if black, fungus knats. White fly will damage the plants while fungus gnats are relatively harmess as they live on organic matter in the soil, although the magotts can eat young roots it rarely damages the plant. You can spray with an insecticide, Baby Bio make a couple which are quite effective, an organic one and a non-organic one, but you will have to persist with it as they are both tricky to eridicate completely.
2. The non flowering hebes. Are they planted in full sun, the vast majority of variagated plants need lots of sun to keep the variagation, and the lack of light can also inhibit flowering.
Do you feed the plants? Established plants rarely need extra water in the summer, I only ever water plants through the first planting season, and then not much as I belive they are encouraged to develop a good root systemn if they are not too mollycoddled, they have to search for water. I really don't think you need to water more, If you are watering twice a day you are also possibly washing the nutrients out of the soil. If you have very heavy clay soil, you need to dig in masses of organic matter and sharp grit, it is the only way you will get a decent soil, and mulch in autumn and spring with 2"-3" of good compost, the worms will take it down into the soil for you, it also helps surpress weeds, and there should be no need for extra feeding.
Why not go for plants which look good in other people's gardens, growing plants which are well suited to your soil and local conditions is the way to get the best. Also visit a local nursery (not garden centre) as they will be able to advise you on what is likely to perform wel for you.
Hope this helps.
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scotia10
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11 Jan 2004, 12:00 #5

Hi Isobel.
You ask>>
the blessed tiny little flies that seem to have taken up residence in the soil.
I agree that they are most likely to be Scairid flies and I can't add to the advice already given.
2) >> Have a heavy clay soil and despite copious amounts of the brown stuff it remains a bit heavy.
You don't mention if it is stony!
Keep throwing in the manure and try a bit of horticultural grit in with it, this will open up the texture a bit.

The grit should help with the watering too
3) The variagation has gone - do I need to use something like blood to ooph up the nitrogen?
No! This problem is down to you I am afraid, 'lack of pruning' you have(I think) what is called 'reversion' i.e. the plant is reverting back to its original colour.
To over come this you have to remove the self coloured leaves/shoots.
Hebes do not require a lot of pruning, keeping them tidy is generally enough, and this best done in early spring.
You mention feeding, have you fed it at all? it might be getting a bit too much nitrogen?????
I say the latter when you mention 'no flowers' i.e. you seem to be getting foliage at the expense of flowers.
I'm afraid my Hebes thrive on neglect I do virtually nothing with them. They get pruned when I think they are untidy, fed only by virtue the were next to a plant I needed to feed.

http://www.thegardenersalmanac.co.uk
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MadgeUK
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11 Jan 2004, 13:01 #6

I use a mix of 1 part detergent (Fair Liquid) to 9 parts water against sciarid flies and this seems to keep them at bay for a month. They are harmless and do not bite.
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scotia10
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11 Jan 2004, 15:38 #7

Welcome to the site Madge!
I knew you would soon get in to the swing of things if you came along.
Hope you have a long and enjoyable stay with RG
Between you and me! they are a madder lot here than at OtGG
honest
http://www.thegardenersalmanac.co.uk
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pipnsox
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11 Jan 2004, 16:03 #8

Mad? Us? Yes
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salli c
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11 Jan 2004, 16:05 #9

I've got those too Madge. Do you water the fairy liquid mixture into the pots or spray it on?


xx-Sal-xx





xx-Sal-xx
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Guest
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12 Jan 2004, 01:34 #10

Organic control available here expensive but effective.
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Guest
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14 Jan 2004, 12:31 #11

Thanks everyone for all your advice!!! Down to brass tacks now:
Hebes - yes I have pruned them so I don't think it's reversion - I pruned them at the end of summer as the leaves were looking sick and mottled a bit yellow and dropping off (hence why I've kept watering like mad) and even the new leaves that have grown back are not variagated. That's the least problem though from my point of view - I want some flipping flowers!!!!!!! . When planted 3 yrs ago they would have had a hole dug that was twice as deep as necessary and filled with compost and a handful of slow release granules. Since then each year I do throw down a load of manure to top dress prior to winter and then another load in spring and last year they had a handful of slow release thrown in for good measure. I did feed with sulphate of potash during the summer and as you say, got loads of green and no flowers, and leaves that were yellowing and dropping off - just generally looking very sad. Hear what everyone says about neglecting and I am happy to try this (I'll try anything!!!!!) but may have to get back to you all if the leaves start looking dicy again. Can anyone let me know what time of year I should start getting buds so I can know when to panic?!!
With regard to the soil. Can you tell me, what is this horticultural grit branded as/called when I nip to the garden centre for it - is it expensive and would there be any substitute of a similar material that I could use that would be cheaper since cost is a factor? Now this next question seems really rather stupid but here we go anyway. How the heck do I dig more compost in now? I have plants and bulbs everywhere - shall I just chuck it on the top and around the plants and it will just get incorporated as time goes on or what??????
Thanks for all the info on the scairid flies - I will get something for them (possibly nematodes) and kill the little devils off. They may not bite but they are a darn nuisance always floating along past your eyes - driving me mad they are and they are in all the children's bedrooms and a real annoyance.
Another (new) question. Loam. What is it? I understand many clematis like it but what is it, I am sure I have never seen a bag of loam at the garden centre - what brands do they sell and where can you get it? I want to make up some seed medium and I seem to find that John Innes seed compost just seems to me to be really thick and heavy (more like topsoil than anything - is this a 'correct' view???!) and I wanted something a bit lighter - what do you guys recommend???

Can't wait to hear your pearls of wisdom - this kind of website is invaluable to people like myself who have only been gardening for a few years. I have to say the non-flowering thing has been really really really disheartening so I need some help - and encouragement - should I keep going or give up now!!!!!!
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scotia10
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14 Jan 2004, 16:44 #12

OK Isobel,
I am not an expert on any one plant really, prefer to know a little about a lot of plants.
When I have a problem similar to you I look in the 'net' for a society for the plant in question....in this case the 'hebe'
So here is one society that might help;
www.hebesoc.vispa.com/index.html
The grit question..I get mine from a builders merchants it is generally a lot cheaper.
If i find it contains a lot of sand I put some in a seive and flush the sand out, this also cleans the grit.
Which brings me on to the next problem you have.
Put some of this clean grit on top of your plant pot compost, then you will find the flies will disappear, and your plant pot looks a lot nicer for it, plus you don't wash the compost off the root system when watering.
Regarding loam; perhaps it would be easier just to direct you to my website for info on this.....go to 'C' in the alphabetical index.....click on 'compost' in the ancillary section.
If after all this you still want help just shout, and let me say....don't feel embarrassed! I was in your shoes once, and for that matter I still am on occasions.
http://www.thegardenersalmanac.co.uk
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