The Gardening Diva
Never be too busy to stop and smell the beautiful flowers.

When Competition is Bad 

Why Are Some of My Garden Plants Struggling?
By LMG Calla Victoria


     Sometimes, as gardeners, we will notice that one or two of our previously well-performing plants are now struggling; and we wonder why. There can be several causes for the problems, some that you may have not thought of.

1. As gardeners, we are ALWAYS planting, why... because it is our addiction. Therefore many plants are competing for the same water, sunlight, and nutrients.  To remedy this problem you can adjust your irrigation system to provide more water, and perhaps move some plants to other locations.

 2. Your neighbor’s plants can also encroach on the food supply. I have a wonderful Ponderosa lemon tree that yields hundreds of grapefruit-sized lemons each year. However, this year the yield was very poor. When I surveyed the area the problem became obvious. A tree in my neighbor’s yard, which I hadn’t even noticed before, was right next to my lemon tree. Only the paige wire fence separated them by a few inches. In fact its branches were growing through my lemon tree. This tree had grown taller than my lemon tree, blocked the sun, and its large roots were sucking up all of the water.

3. I have a corridor of Brugmansias (angel’s trumpets) trees along one side of my garden that bloom profusely most of the year. But while most are in bloom, a few of them struggle like the white angels trumpet  tree that is over by my big fig tree; and the two yellow ones that are across the fence from my other neighbors bank of huge palm trees. In both cases, the trees are competing for water with larger trees with big thirsty roots. If moving your plant is an option do so, or provide more water to the plants in need.

4. Your plants are growing with lots of green foliage but not blooming. This is an obvious example of lack of water. It takes a lot of energy for plants to push out blooms. Your plants are getting some water, which is indicated by the healthy and lush foliage, but not water to provide the plant with enough energy to set blooms.

     I was fortunate enough to get lots of old garden rose bushes, while working as a volunteer at the Pelican Greenhouse.  It was 20 rose bushes to be exact, so I have an entire rose garden. While preparing for their big Plant sale, they were discarding unhealthy plants. But there was a table of rose bushes that were all beautiful and healthy, and I asked why were they being tossed? I was told that the labels were lost and they could not sell them without proper labeling. So I grabbed all of them, and shared some with my neighbors. I planted my rose garden and most were doing just great, however there were three bushes that were always green but NEVER bloomed. It finally hit me that my Satsuma tree, which was not too far from those three rose bushes, was sucking up all of the water. Once I make the necessary watering adjustments, those rose bushes are blooming like crazy.

Check the surroundings near your plants that may be having challenges and you just may find that competition for nutrients is the problem.

Remember, never get too busy to stop and enjoy the beautiful flowers!

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