Q. I planted a kurry patta two months ago but it is not growing and the leaves have started to turn yellow and dry out. Can you please suggest some tips to boost its growth and the type of fertiliser to use? I reside in Karachi.
A. It sounds like the soil conditions need serious improvement. Planting a young tree in just whatever soil happens to be present is often a sure way to failure. Planting holes must be prepared in advance. Such a hole should be at least twice as deep and two to three times as wide as the saplings opened out, root spread. Existing soil should be removed and mixed, at least 50/50 with good quality, preferably organic, compost and well-rotted animal manure and then be replaced and used to plant the baby tree in — with any excess soil mixture being put aside for use elsewhere in the garden. Watering is also of prime importance. The sapling should be watered, each evening, for the first week and then every alternate evening for another two weeks to help it recover from transplantation shock and assist it to settle its tender roots into place. After this initial period, watering can be reduced to twice a week.
Q. I want to grow some perennial plants at my home in Larkana, Sindh, where the temperature is above 45C in the summer. I have space on the rooftop which receives maximum sun and heat and space in the courtyard where sunlight hours vary. Please give some suggestions.
A. Very little would survive the furnace-like heat of your rooftop at the height of summer — perhaps some of the hardy desert cacti and succulents, but even they would benefit from shade, if it can be provided, in the form of securely-fastened green netting or similar. The courtyard is a much better bet and perennials, such as lantana, yucca, champa and lagerstroemia should be okay, as long as they are well-watered. Annuals such as portulaca, zinnia, cosmos and celosia can add colour.
Q. I bought 10 fig trees last year but, over the last few months, eight of them have died. First the leaves get brown patches and then they dry out. They were in pots on the rooftop of my home in Karachi and the remaining two are still there but struggling. How can I keep them healthy? I do not have any garden area.
A. The figs are certainly not happy on your exposed rooftop, where a combination of direct sun and wind is killing them off. The remaining two will only survive if provided with firmly-fixed shade and wind protection.
All your gardening queries answered here
Q. What plants can be grown by the hydroponic method in North Nazimabad, Karachi. Please elaborate how to set up the system, what method — vertical or horizontal — should we use and how to treat the water.
A. I’m sorry to say that I have no personal experience of hydroponic gardening so I am not qualified to advise on this subject.
Q. I reside in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir, and want to grow bonsai. What kind of tree should I try with? I want something that flowers or bears fruit. Please give the local names and explain how to grow them.
A. Growing bonsai, from scratch, is a tricky and complicated process which, unfortunately, I do not have space to fully explain here. I will add the subject to a list of items to be written about, in a column of its own, in the future.
Q. I am new to gardening and want to grow some beautiful flowering plants in DHA, Karachi. I don’t want anything that will spread too much or grow into a tree, just something pretty for the kiyaris.
A. The easiest thing to do is to make regular trips to your local nurseries and select the plants you like from the seasonal selection they offer for sale. Seasonal flowers such as petunias, zinnias, salvias, phlox, etc, are simple to care for and provide pleasure for months on end.
Q. I planted a white champa in my kiyari. The plant is fine and new leaves are growing but it isn’t flowering. I water it every alternate day and have used organic fertiliser. Please guide as to what should be done to make it flower. The location is Karachi.
A. Champa can take quite some time to flower — especially after being transplanted from a pot into the ground. You are doing all the right things. Be patient please.
Please continue sending your gardening queries to email@example.com. Remember to include your location. The writer does not respond directly by email. Emails with attachments will not be opened
Published in Dawn, EOS, August 16th, 2020