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Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The Tea Bag Trick

In the days when tea came in packets rather than bags, it was common practice to empty the used leaves onto the garden. ‘Does wonder for the roses’ as my granny used to say. Unfortunately, a pile of soggy tea bags doesn’t’ quite have the same effect (the bag material doesn’t biodegrade), but the old wisdom is not entirely lost.

As you probably know, azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons need an acid soil and, especially those grown in pots, commonly start to look a bit sad and yellow over time. This is because they struggle to get enough iron as the compost turns more alkaline, an inevitable result of using our hard London water. But there’s no need to worry. Just put a used tea bag in a can full of water and stir gently. A weekly dose of this mix will soon have your plants looking green and healthy again. Magnolias, skimmias, and heathers will also thank you for a drop of tea.

Green tea, highly favoured by the Chinese and Japanese for its antioxidant properties, has an almost magical effect on plants. Just a tiny drop in the watering can each time you water results in healthier, bushier plants with more flowers. It works for both houseplants and outdoor containers. It may take a month or so but, once you see the results, I’m sure you’ll be convinced to join your plants in a regular cuppa.

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