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Ridiculous question from someone with black thumbs...

(16 Posts)
Lovecat Thu 27-Nov-14 00:54:31

Hello, I would like to ask you knowledgeable MNers what is probably a monumentally stupid series of questions before I go and ask them in RL and have people point and laugh at me.

We have 2 box topiary plants in pots on either side of our front door, bought this summer. Cone shaped things. One of them must be slightly more sheltered than the other, because it doesn't get any rainwater - due to my having the aforesaid black thumbs, I wasn't watering either plant recently because of all the rain we've had - and all the leaves but a few have gone a crispy shade of brown. I did some remedial watering when I realised, but it didn't help.

These leaves are dead, aren't they? Inside the cone I can see green leaves and shoots and some are starting to poke through, so I'm hoping/assuming that if I keep on watering eventually it will re-green as the new leaves grow through the old crispy stuff?

However (and here's where the stupidity comes in) my original plan was to wind some fairy lights around them come Christmas and have them looking all festive. With one being a crispy brown thing of hideousness, this is not going to work. So....

If I spraypainted the leaves green again so it looked pretty for Christmas, would it kill the plant completely and ruin the potential new shoots and leaves coming through? Or should I just give up on it and buy a new one?

DH has suggested it would be easier to let the other plant die to match it, but I've disregarded this... hmm

I've googled but I can't find any mention of painting leaves green, so I'm assuming it's a fairly stupid thing to do or there'd be an Ehow page somewhere with instructions...


PurpleWithRed Thu 27-Nov-14 18:53:26

Good grief...

It will never match the one on the other side (well, Alan Titchmarsh might manage it but you probably have a life). Either spray it and bling it, or just buy another one. If you spray it then cut it back after Christmas it will either live or die. Who knows.

Lovecat Fri 28-Nov-14 15:34:10

I told you it was a stupid question... grin

I would just spray it and chuck it after Christmas, but I feel mean potentially killing it off when it has a chance at life.

<reads that back and decides I'm over-invested in this shrub>

wowfudge Sat 29-Nov-14 00:07:16

You can get Oasis brand spray paint which is for use on cut flowers, foliage, plants and dried flowers. It won't kill the plant. There are several shades of green. I've used some of the metallic colours on foliage in Christmas arrangements and things in the past.

funnyperson Sat 29-Nov-14 10:23:43

When Christmas is over you can cut away the dead sprayed part of the plant and plant them out in the garden somewhere then they might grow again.

MrsCrankypants Sat 29-Nov-14 10:29:05

Are they box trees? I have exactly the same problem with mine and I gave them some box tree feed from the garden centre and loads of eater and they recovered ok. They might not recover before spring though so maybe spraying them is a good idea for Christmas!

FunkyBoldRibena Sat 29-Nov-14 10:29:28

Box blight. Use it for artistic purposes and chuck it.

MaudantWit Sat 29-Nov-14 19:58:44

It does sound like box blight, although the appearance of fresh green shoots means (being an optimist here) that it might just be the effects of drought. If it is box blight, the other plant is likely to succumb too, so I think I'd be inclined to spray them both silver, cover them in fairy lights and send them to the green waste recycling service in the New Year.

Rhubarbgarden Sat 29-Nov-14 20:11:44

Someone near me has sprayed a pair of dead box trees gold and wound fairy lights round them. They look pretty naff, tbh.

Just go and buy and new one - and make sure you water it this time! Box trees need loads of water if they are in pots. Rain will not be adequate.

MaudantWit Sat 29-Nov-14 20:27:18

Ah, I was hoping silver foliage and white lights might look rather chic. Oops.

Rhubarbgarden Sat 29-Nov-14 20:43:38

I think the ones near me have been done particularly naffly. Silver and white could well look very pretty.


MaudantWit Sat 29-Nov-14 20:45:48

This is feeding into all my insecurities about my gardening naffness taste. I am rather fond of fairy lights in the garden.

<<could see it from space>>

Rhubarbgarden Sat 29-Nov-14 20:49:32

Fairy lights can be lovely. My neighbour has some in her apple tree and they look so pretty. It's the spray painting of plants (alive or dead) that gives me the heebie-jeebies.

MaudantWit Sat 29-Nov-14 21:00:11

I would never have thought of spray-painting a living (or nearly-living) plant, but I can see that here it would buy a bit of time if the OP didn't want to replace a plant or plants before Christmas.

I hadn't really reflected on it before, but years ago when making Christmas wreaths I used to spray bits of the foliage in metallic colours, and it would never cross my mind to do it now. That's probably the influence of my floral designer friend, who does inspiring demonstrations in which he creates gorgeous wreaths and decorations with nary a spray can.

Lovecat Sat 29-Nov-14 21:10:27

Thank you everyone grin

Having googled images of box blight, I don't think it's that (doesn't have that 'powdery' look) so am hoping that Maudant is right and it's "just" drought...

Thank you for the info about Oasis spray, wowfudge I think I am going to buy some in "Holiday Green" and give it a go. Much as I like the idea of chic silver trees, my Christmas wreath and garlands that I put around the pillars of the porch are dark green, so it just wouldn't go sad.

In the new year I shall try feeding them and keeping them well-watered, and see what transpires.

Thanks again for all the help!

MaudantWit Sat 29-Nov-14 21:24:36

That sounds promising, but do keep a close eye on them because box blight is awful stuff.

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