Dr Green Fingers: Outdoor Plants

by Vicky Hurst

man gardening

For keen gardeners and lovers of nature alike, we all look forward to the glorious summer months when English gardens are thriving most. Whether we plan to spend our days pruning and nurturing our beloved plants or simply want to enjoy the scenery while we have drink and nibbles in the garden, summer is the time to do it. Naturally, we want to keep our garden as healthy and happy to enjoy thriving and flourishing plants for as long as possible. But the outdoors brings many other influences and variables outside our control, so what can we do to help? 

Don’t worry; Dr Green Fingers is back and ready to help. At Plants by Post, we have pulled together the most common problems your outdoor plants may face and how you can fix or prevent them. As well as a few more tips and seeds of advice sprinkled in for good measure. 

Also, don’t forget you can look for expert advice on indoor plants in our Dr Green Fingers series. 

Why Are My Outdoor Plants Dying?

There are several causes which may lead to your outdoor plants dying. Some are more common than others, and there is no one size fits all solution to bringing your plants back from the brink of death. With the proper care and maintenance, you can prevent possible issues leading to your plant dying. However, once a problem or issue has occurred, you need to know the right course of action to fix it. 

6 Common Outdoor Plant Problems 

Before we find the solution, we need to diagnose the problem. There are many problems outdoor plants face, and we have listed the most common you may encounter. Work through our list to find the issue causing damage to your carefully kept garden and find the answers to problems you may face. When it comes to your babies, plant parents must be prepared for any problem, and Dr Fingers is here to help you get equipped. 

1. Black Spots 

Seeing black spots on the leaves of your beloved plants can be alarming, almost like watching our plants die right in front of our eyes. More commonly, this problem affects roses; however, all leaf plants can exhibit this symptom. 

Typically, black spots on leaves indicate a fungal disease brought on by a combination of warm and damp weather. Think about those humid summer days. Once black spots have developed, the leaves will turn yellow and eventually drop off, leaving you with a bald plant unable to photosynthesise. 

You should position your plants in garden areas with good air circulation to prevent black spots from taking over your plant leaves. This means avoiding corners where your plant may be boxed in and out of the summer breeze. On top of this, ensure you don’t over water your plants and keep them in a good position for sunlight.

2. Powder Mildew

Are you a veggie lover with your garden filled with vegetable plants? Nothing is more satisfying than watching the seedlings you plant grow delicious and ripe vegetables. But first, you have to make sure they survive to be able to sprout. A common problem outdoor vegetable plants face is the appearance of a powdery type of mildew. 

More commonly, this mildew will affect melons, squash and cucumbers; unfortunately, once it has appeared, there is no cure. But you can control it and limit the spread to salvage your vegetables. You can limit the spread by picking off any affected leaves you spot and spraying the plant with a fungicide. If you have none to hand, you can also create a mix of milk and water to spray on affected plants. 

3. Blossom-End Rot

Powdery mildew is not the only terror affecting your vegetable plants. The appearance of blossom-end rot on your botanical fruits is equally as alarming. Unfortunately, there is no saving pieces that have been affected. This means you should remove affected fruit from the plant and discard it, do not attempt to eat these. 

Botanical fruit, or culinary vegetables, commonly affected by blossom-end rot include tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. It appears as a dark, rotting spot at the bottom of the fruit and is caused by a calcium deficiency resulting from a lack of soil moisture. Luckily, the rest of the plant can be salvaged once affected fruit are picked. Simply make minor adjustments in your watering routine. 

4. Drought 

In the summer, a lack of water can wreak havoc on your garden. Of course, we all know that plants need water to thrive, and some are more thirsty than others. If you’re concerned that summer has been a dry period for your plants, you can boost their reliance on dry weather with compost. You may also want to mulch your garden to help keep the soil moist and the surface layer from baking and becoming dry under the summer sun. 

Suppose you’re concerned that work and other commitments will keep you from regularly watering your garden in summer. In that case, you may also want to consider a timed hose, sprinklers or other automatic watering function. 

5. Drowning 

On the reverse of drought, it is also possible for your garden plants

caring for outdoor plantsto drown. Yes, we understand it is a tricky line to navigate!

Rain off the back of particularly hot days can be heavy, and the flood of excess water in your garden can suck the nitrogen out of your plants. This will leave your leaves starved for nutrients and become yellow. The solution? Create the best possible drainage for your garden plants by adding gravel to the bottom of plant pots. This allows excess water to drain freely through the drainage holes in your pots.

6. Aphids Infestation 

If your plants look weak and frail, it might not actually be your own doing. In Britain, more than 500 species of aphids are found in all parts of the country, according to The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). These small bugs infest quickly and drink the sap from your plants, leaving them distorted, warped and weak as they cannot thrive. On top of this, aphids will also excrete a sticky, black honeydew which will cover your leaves in black mould. So, while these bugs need plants to survive, they are unforgiving of their habitats. 

If you notice symptoms of an aphid infestation, you can usually spot these small, pear-shaped bugs with the naked eye. If the infestation is large, you should allow nature to take its natural course. Usually, aphids will build strong colonies in the spring. Still, by late summer, natural predators, such as ladybugs, earwigs and hoverflies, will be active and remove the pests for you. 

To prevent these bugs, keep an eye on your plants and stamp our infestations before they become out of control. 

Help Your Outdoor Plants Thrive 

Have you found the advice you need to keep your outdoor plants thriving? We hope our advice from Dr Green Fingers has given you the tips to maintain your flourishing garden and safe from irritating pests and common diseases. 

If you’re ready to combat all this and more and are determined to create a green paradise retreat, we can help with that too. Our outdoor plant collection is bursting with outdoor plants of all types and sizes. So, no matter how small or large your garden, whether it is south or north facing, you can find the best-suited outdoor plants. We have made shopping for outdoor plants easier by offering plants per conditions, such as shady, sunny and windy spots

You can also find the plant care and food you need to keep your plants happy and growing at Plants By Post. Or if you’re looking for an easy win in your battle to keep plants alive, shop for unkillable plants available. 


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