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Skimmia rescue!

Rob LockwoodRob Lockwood Posts: 330
edited May 2021 in Plants
Hi all!  Doubtless been asked many times before but welcome ANY thoughts on getting this thing back to its best.  It's been totally neglected for a decade or so but appears to be made of kryptonite.  It's been (and is staying) in shade (it only sees any sun between 12 and 2 and in autumn/winter hardly any).
Suggestion is to pot up big-time into the big pot on the right with ericaceous compost.  I've got a rhodo, so have sulphur dust/chips and slow-release food on hand if the compost doesn't sort some of the yellowing by spring next year.
So - 1) good timing to do it now?  2) i've seen one site / post suggesting to cut away half the rootball - can this be right?  Is it likely pot bound?  3) I'll be sticking the pot up on bricks to aid drainage / discourage vine weevils.  4) do they have deep root systems - the new pot's going to be heavy so wondered if I could stick some polystyrene etc in the bottom if the skimmia doesn't need the depth.  5) would it take pruning? - it's quite stemmy.
All yours - all advice welcomed!


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,268
    It looks severely pot bound, and they aren't very suited to pot culture so a big pot is needed to have any success. 
    They tolerate plenty of shade, but you need a hefty, soil based mix - not compost on it's own. That will just dry out. 
    Soak it thoroughly before re potting, and make sure it doesn't dry out -they're happy in quite damp conditions. A good layer of bark as a mulch will also help.

    You can certainly prune it back a bit, but I'm not sure that will ever be a thing of beauty  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,828
    It looks stressed, starved and thirsty to me so the first thing to do is to give the whole pot and root ball a thorough soaking.   This will also make it easier to get out of its pot tho you may need help to loosen it.  I use an old bread knife "sawn" up and down round the inside edge of the pot and down the sides to loosen things.

    It would be better in the ground if possible but if not a large pot will help.  I agree with @Fairygirl about using a good, loam based compost (John Innes no 3) with maybe 25% MPC for moisture retention.  You'll need to use your fingers or a hand fork to loosen the roots out in the outer edge and then add at least 3" of compost below for them to grow again so yes to drainage crocks but not too much polystyrene.   Plenty of fresh compost round the sides too then water it all in well.

    You can use a liquid rose or tomato feed between normal waterings to give it a boost but to fix those yellowing leaves you need to give it some Epsom salts - 15ml dissolved in 5 litres of water and sprayed over the leaves then poured round the roots.   This will fix magnesium deficiency and help green up the leaves.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • ErgatesErgates Posts: 2,073
    Very timely, Obelixx, I’ve just got some Epsom salts for a yellowing camellia, and was wondering what concentration to mix up. Thanks.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,828
    Good @Ergates.  I have some on standby for a newly planted out camellia that's been in a pot for  4 years since I bought it.

    It works on conifers too and rhodos and so on.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Rob LockwoodRob Lockwood Posts: 330
    Thanks all - really helpful.
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