Portions of my Red Apple ground cover have started to die. Small patches
just begin dying next to healthy sections.
Have not over watered or fed lately. Too many sections are dying to
suspect animal urine.
Is this a disease? Need suggestions how to rescue my Red Apple. Winter
in my local is usually mild here in Southern California near Los
Angeles, zip code 91402.
Thank you for any suggestions.
Pictures can be viewed at
Thank you, Dave_S
The ground along what appears to be a walkway looks overly dry and
very compacted... also looks depleted of nutrients, typical of S. Cal
yard soil. Seems to me that the entire area would benefit greatly
from tilling in a very generous application of organic matter/rich
topsoil, and then replanting plugs of your ground cover taken from
healthy spots. You may want to first try potting some healthy plants
in fresh sterile potting soil as a control test just to make sure it's
not the plants that have a disease. Also check carefully for small
insects and/or mildew, and dig into the ground looking for grubs.
Often watering late in the day doesn't allow the plants to dry out
before night and constant wetness causes myriad problems. Sometimes
just an application of soap spray will fix things... a solution of 1
Tbs Murphy's Oil Soap to a quart of water may do it... just treat a
small area at first (a couple sq yds).
Your observation sure is correct about soil texture like dry flour and
excessively compact. Due to our drought, I water not frequently and no
later than after 3PM.
At the moment, it is not feasible to replant the entire ground cover.
I am looking into amending with a rich compost (mulch) which the city
makes available at no cost. That can be applied to healthy sections and
where die off occurred. As a temporary amendment, does applying compost
on ground surface (throw and scatter in) rather than dig in, help at all?
Does feeding help temporarily?
At what time of year (in So CAL) is it ok to feed my Red Apple?
I did start a few plugs in pots (sterile potting compound) from a
healthy section to look for disease.
Many thanks to Bill and Sheldon. Dave_s
A top dressing does little good scattered over poor quality compacted
soil, in fact that can do more harm than good... but in this case will
do nothing as it will be hosed away. The primary reason for amending
soil with organic matter is to increase aeration for plant roots, so
that plant roots can receive more air, water, nutrients, and so roots
can grow deeper and stronger. Adding organic matter is to supply
nutrients to the plant's roots (not the microrganisms). Organic
matter helps retain water but it has to be worked into the soil at
least as deep as that particular plant's roots are expected to grow
for the plant to receive full benefit... plants don't receive any
appreciable water from microganisms, and in fact may receive less
because the microrganisms will hog water first at the surface where
the top dressing is placed. In a basically arid clime top dressing
poor compacted soil is really a total waste of time, effort, and
money. The entire purpose of amending any soil with organic matter is
to make a more advantageous environment for plant roots... surface
water does no good and in fact will cause harm, the plants will rot at
the surface and die... that's exactly how that ground cover looks in
those photos... the garden hose tells the story, too much surface
water... with that very compacted poor quality soil it's best not to
water at all, many ground covers do quite well with just the water
from nightly condensation (that's how desert plants thrive). If that
soil was in good condition there wouldn't be a reason to ever water
that ground cover except during prolonged droughts. Ground cover (as
the term implies) shades (covers) the ground so naturally minimizes
evaporation... ground cover, especially those for arid climes, doesn't
like to be overly watered or watered so its leaves remain wet for long
periods. Ground cover does best planted in an envrionment where it
can self irrigate naturally by taking advantage of normal
condensation. I would do what I indicated previously, one section at
a time if necessary, by working rich organic matter into the existing
soil and to a depth commisserate to the needs of the particular plant
(in that situation at least 8"), if you're stingy you'll be redoing
your labor in a very short time. Once that ground cover is then
reestablished it may benefit from a sparse top dressing once a year or
every other year for a few years, until it becomes vigorous... and may
never need to be irrigated by garden sprinkler again except at the
very edges where it can't shade itself. When growing properly ground
covers top dress themselves, from their decaying old growth as new
growth emerges. I would definitely add a barrier border along that
walkway, if foot traffic continues to encroach where plants are
desired all this talk is for nought. When ground cover is growing
healthily folks have just the opposite problem (ground covers are
typically very vigorous and in fact are quite invasive), they have to
constantly thin and prune back.
I am carefully reading these mail notes from Sheldon and Bill and Billy
to determine the best approach to fix my 'backyard' RED APPLE problems.
The soil in the 'front yard' is similar to 'backyard', not compacted,
but is flour like. So I will be obtaining 'rich topsoil' for 'front and
back' RED APPLE plantings. Will be a busy winter.
In my front yard, I also have much RED APPLE. Many of these locations
are under a large Camphor tree. The tree constantly drops leaves which
completely fills in the spaces between RED APPLE leaves. The leaf cover
is very dense and constantly drops leaves all summer. The color of the
RED APPLE leaves is sallow, light yellow where the Camphor leaves are
covering densely. Where RED APPLE is beyond the reach of those Camphor
leaves the RED APPLE leaf color is deep green. Should I regularly remove
as many of the 'on top' large leaves covering the RED APPLE leaves?
Under the dry large Camphor leaves is a layer of tiny mulch like
decomposing CAMPHOR leaves. Should these small particle mulch like
material be preserved but remove the dense large leaves on top?
Where the soil is flour like, should I work in that decomposing mulch
layer of CAMPHOR leaves? Is the Camphor leaves too acid for a good
mulch? I can discard that mulch like material or work it into the not
compacted flour like soil near the RED APPLE.
I sure appreciate you hints and suggestions and explanations!!
Many thanks folks. Dave_s
Check your soil composition. Clear off the top couple of inches (5 cm)
of a small patch of your growing area and then take a plug of soil
(approx. 250 cc: about 6 x 6 x 6 cc). Make a slurry of this soil to
about 1 qt. to 1 liter in volume in a glass jar. Make sure the soil is
thoroughly broken up. The sand will settle in about 20 min., the silt in
a couple of hours, and the clay in about 24 hours. Measure the depth of
the soil in the bottle. Then measure the width of the three bands. You
want 20 - 30% clay, 30 - 40% silt, and 30 - 40% sand. If you are within
these parameters, then I would only add organic material (alfalfa
pellets, compost, and some manure or fish emulsion. If the soil is truly
hard and compacted, garden fork up the denuded area where you want to
plant. Turn in the organic material (including kitchen scraps but not
coffee grounds) and top dress with alfalfa pellets, compost, and some
manure or fish emulsion. You may want to cover this with a sheet or two
of newspaper and the newsprint in turn with mulch.
From Camphor trees I know nothing, except . . .The camphor content of
the leaf litter helps prevent other plants from germinating
successfully, helping to ensure the camphor's success against any
potentially competing vegetation, . . .
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