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I think I'm killing my Ilex Crenata

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  • 15-05-2024 2:31pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 4


    Hi Everyone.

    Last year I bought 4 Ilex Crenata, and they were all healthy and a deep green. Below is the only reference image I seem to have. They were just sitting in their original pots inside these empty half barrels.


    A year later, I was ready to plant them properly.

    I drilled multiple 1-inch holes in the bottom of each barrel. Lined with a breathable membrane, then a plastic sheet with holes cut in it (I know right, It is debatable whether the plastic is worth it)

    Eventually, I amalgamated some info from a few websites and found the best soil for these guys was "Generally speaking Ilex Crenata are an easily cared for plant if you follow the rules and plant them in Acid soil or Ericaceous compost". I did some more googling and found this stuff "Westland Ericaceous Planting & Potting Mix - 50L"

    https://www.homebase.co.uk/westland-ericaceous-planting-potting-mix-50l/14993125.html?switchcurrency=GBP&shippingcountry=GB&affil=thggps&affil=thgppc&gad_source=1&gclid=CjwKCAjwupGyBhBBEiwA0UcqaDtsAZFUwLqjyP_lj7PGYBEaE7VjVpBz6mXtE69VVpkgatthiakiOBoCR2EQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

    So I bought 8 bags, filled my tubs, and planted my shrubs. Now, about a month later, the poor guys look really sad. They all appear to slowly be going yellow, and losing some leaves 😕 I'm hoping they are just trying to re-establish themselves.

    I've noticed the soil dries out super fast. If there is no rain and its relatively warm, I can water it thoroughly, 2-3 days later it's drying out.

    This fellow is the most unhappy


    What do you guys think?

    Kind regards,

    Jay



Best Answer

  • Registered Users Posts: 28,183 ✭✭✭✭looksee


    I believe they were pot-bound. I didn't loosen the roots from their pot shape. I also didn't soak them before unpotting, I gave them a good soak after repotting

    I'd say that is a lot of your problem. I bet if you investigate (and I think you should) you will find the roots in exactly the same, tight, dry mass that you put them in. If you lift one out, put it in a bucket of water - preferably rainwater - to soak through - until it stops bubbling - you might have to weight it down to keep it under water. Then break the mat of roots that is shaped like a pot. You can be fairly rough in breaking them up, try and unwind the big ones a bit but the small ones just 'rough them up'. Scrape at the mat under the bottom of the rootball, or you could get a sharp knife and cut off the bottom couple of centimeters like taking a slice off a loaf. Put a good bit of water into the hole in the compost in the tub and let the whole thing soak. The ditch suggestion was just trying to get water to the roots, but its not the best solution. The ball of dry roots you put in will not attract water, it will just run past. 

    If you decide to do this do them one at a time, don't uproot them and leave them lying around.



Answers

  • Registered Users Posts: 28,183 ✭✭✭✭looksee


    Were they very potbound when you planted them? Did you loosen the roots from their pot-shape? Did you soak them before un-potting them? Are you sure the water is staying in the pot rather than running out the bottom of the container? You could try gently scraping a little ditch around the plant without touching the rootball, then filling the moat with water, do it several times.

    The evidence of watering in the pots doesn't look sufficient, there should not be dry patches and wet patches, though its a bit surprising given how much rain we have had.

    It was the case with peat compost that once it got dry it was extremely difficult to get it all wet again, I haven't enough experience of the new peat free stuff to know whether this still applies, but I rarely plant in all compost, I add soil to help the texture.

    Sometimes shrubs object to going straight from a small pot to a very large one, I can't say I have ever lost anything to this phenomenon but that is the theory, they do look a bit lost in those pots.



  • Registered Users Posts: 4 JayClark


    I believe they were pot-bound. I didn't loosen the roots from their pot shape. I also didn't soak them before unpotting, I gave them a good soak after repotting Doh! I like that ditch Idea, I'll give it a try. What is its purpose? To get water to the roots or to test drainage or something?

    "The evidence of watering in the pots doesn't look sufficient, there should not be dry patches and wet patches, though its a bit surprising given how much rain we have had."

    Yeah, crazy right. 2 days ago, I gave them a thorough soaking, then yesterday and last night it rained, a lot. I took these photos at roughly 2pm, and that's how the soil looks, dry and wet patches, it's mental how fast it seems to be draining.



  • Registered Users Posts: 4 JayClark


    The picture doesn't do much justice, but yes, the original mass is still perfectly intact.

    I will proceed along the path you suggest. I just figured the roots would go where they wanted and naturally break free :D Blast!

    Thank you. I'll come back and update in a month :)



  • Registered Users Posts: 28,183 ✭✭✭✭looksee


    I'd say a really good soak then replanting in well watered compost would be the best approach, the top of the root ball that can be seen looks ok-ish, its the bottom that will be root bound.

    You may lose them anyway, it may be too late, but don't give up on them too quickly. They will probably lose all the yellow leaves but look closely for evidence of new life off the stems.



  • Registered Users Posts: 4 JayClark


    Ok, so this is my progress. I know you said do them one at a time, but I did do them relatively quickly, 3 or 4 minutes tending and repotting each one.

    Here, I can see the poorly one has the smallest amount of roots


    Not a happy guy

    Happier guy


    So, I did as you suggested and filled the new hole with water, then positioned the plant. I added soil, then watered, then massaged, and rinsed and repeated to make sure it seated nicely and the soil got back between the roots.

    I now have a reference photo for next year



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  • Registered Users Posts: 28,183 ✭✭✭✭looksee


    Glad to see you have sorted them, but it pains me to see poor little bare roots lying in the air like that, they dry out so very quickly and stress the plant. Anyway hopefully they are happier. I'd suggest you should top the containers with a layer of bark mulch.



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