The one plant in a row that just won’t grow

Troubleshooting tips for the runt of the hedge, screen or mass planting

A beautiful healthy row of young hedging plants, let’s use a Murraya hedge as an example as most Lake Macquarie gardeners have grown these at some stage. Nineteen of the twenty in your screening are growing well, they look green and are starting to branch nicely. Look a little closer and up one end there is one little troublemaker, weak yellow and has hardly moved since it was planted. Your plans for a nice neat low care hedge are looking good except for this one gaping hole.

It’s one of the most common and hardest to understand challenges we help solve for our Newcastle and Lake Macquarie gardeners.


Check out the picture of the five murrayas, the yellow one second in from the right we forgot to feed! Everything else remained equal including perfect watering and good quality potting mix.

Why is it looking sick and how can we fix it?

Because all twenty plants are all planted in slightly different situations up or down the screens row these once identical potted plants are now all growing in slightly different positions. Some might be doing it a bit better or tougher than others but the stunted yellowing runt up the end has had all the little differences in the conditions work against it. A bit more clay, slope, sun, shade or extra drainage can all contribute.

Getting the weak link in the hedge back to flourishing growth?

I like to start with feeding as it is one of the least time consuming things we can do to substantially change conditions in this struggling plants microclimate. A simple dose of a controlled release fertilizer like One Minute fertilizer is often all that is needed to get things moving. This can be dropped onto the soil and forgotten about and takes 5 seconds. Controlled release fertilizer feeds for months and even if things are not great in the soil below the trickling down of constant nutrients can make a huge difference. Once a plant starts to grow it should fill out and settle in to grow like the rest of the hedge. When using a controlled release fertilizer make sure you water at least once a week unless good rains have fallen as this fertilizer works better when water is moving through the little fertilizer prills regularly.

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