FAQs about shrubs

By Melanie Mathieson
The Gardening Guru

The last column talked about wheat to look for in deciding on the ideal shrub for your landscape design. Once you have the shrub(s) in planted, like many gardeners you may have a question concerning a specific problem.
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers for your information.
1.My shrub was growing fine and then all of sudden the leaves wilted and turned brown, what happened?
This can happen often with shrubs.
In the Rainy River District in the summer of 2010 it has probably happened due to an over abundance of rain.
Check to see if the ground is remaining soggy where this shrub is planted.
If so you may need to dig the shrub up and add some fine gravel to the planting hole to ensure adequate drainage.
Be careful though as this was an exceptional year for rainfall and next year could easily have drought conditions.
Now the opposite thing happened to two of my shrubs in Thunder Bay this past summer. Two lilacs have died completely due to drought. Even though they were watered on a regular basis, the heat and lack of rain this summer was just too much for them.
I will dig them up next spring and replace them with a new shrub.
2.I purchased a dwarf variety shrub a few years ago and it hasn’t grown at all, why?
It may appear that this shrub hasn’t grown at all but it has, all be it a very small amount.
Most draft species are hybridized to grow to and maintain a very reduced size in comparison to the full size variety.
As a result, annual growth on these type of species is very small (around a centimeter or so) so it is very hard to detect.
As long as your tree is healthy and maintaining its annual colour, you have nothing to worry about.
If you want a bigger shrub you may have to choose a different variety and move this one to another spot. (Note the slow growth rate also applies to many of the species that have been hybridized to maintain certain shapes.)
3.I would like to plant some shrubs but my soil is very poor. How do I correct this?
Many other columns have stressed the importance of good soil nutrients and condition. But to make a long story short, you need to add some organic matter such as compost, peat moss or well rotted manure.
Check to see what soil requirements are needed for the species of shrub you want to grow and adjust your organic matter accordingly.
For example, rhododendrons, azaleas, junipers like acidic soil so add more peat moss.
Blend the organic matter into the soil well and then follow the instructions for proper planting techniques from a previous column.

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