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Sunday, November 23, 2014

What Killed My Gopher Plant?

Q. What do think the problem would be with my three gopher plants? They seem to be getting enough water.
Gopher plant collapsing during warm weather
A. This plant is a Mediterranean plant which means it likes soils that drains easily, hot summers within infrequent irrigations and cool rainy winters. Normally this plant is very prolific and grows well in our desert soils. In fact you may see it pop up here and there once it's been planted.

Whenever I see branch die back on plants like this it usually indicates there is too much water remaining in the soil between irrigations. This means it is either watered too often or the soil does not drain very well or both. If this is the case, you will not solve this problem by simply giving it less water. You either have to take up the plant, amend that soil and replant it or move it to a new location that has improved soils and can handle frequent waterings.

If you cannot change how often the water comes on, you will have to change how rapidly the soil can drain the water. You will not change the soil by adding sand. This will make it worse. You have to use amendments such as compost and perlite.

Once you have solved this problem you could cut this plant back to three or 4 inches in height and have it regrow again. Dead portions of the plant you can remove completely. Fertilize lightly in the early spring.

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