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Tips for Growing Healthy Brugs

Everyone has their own way of growing Brugs and these are some of the ways that have worked well for us.

Type of pot: Plastic is recommended as clay pots will be much too heavy to move your Brug around in. If you need to pull the Brug out of the pot for root trimming or planting in the ground it will be much easier to remove it from a plastic pot.

Pot size: This will depend on the size of your Brug. Naturally a smaller plant needs a smaller pot until its root system grows. If you see roots in the bottom holes of the pot then it is time to put it into a bigger pot. A good universal size for an established medium to large size Brug is a 5 to 7 gallon pot or one approximately 14" wide x 12" high. The bigger your pot, the bigger your plant will grow.

Fertilizer: A water soluble fertilizer is best for giving your plants the nutrients that they need. The slow release long lasting fertilizers do not release the fertilizer fast enough or in a large enough quantity to benefit the plant. I have had good luck with Peter's and Miracle Grow fertilizer although there are other good brands on the market. For a large plant it will not hurt to fertilize it two - three times a week. Brugs may also benefit from Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) applied at the rate of 1 Tbsp per gallon of water once a month. Brugs should be fertilized only during active growth, not during winter dormancy.

Soil: There are many potting mixes on the market today. Everyone has their favorite and you will have to choose the one that suits your plants. Make sure it is a good draining potting mix. One that has perlite, vermiculite and peat will drain well and your Brugs won't have soggy roots.

Watering: Brugs require a large amount of water, however they don't like their roots in water logged soil. Make sure your pot has drainage holes in the bottom or your plant can get root rot. If the soil looks wet and the leaves are not wilted then don't water it. On hot sunny days your plant may need more water than usual and it will let you know when it is thirsty by the wilting of its leaves.

Shade or sun: This depends on where you live. In the colder zones most Brugs can withstand full sun all day long except for ones in the Sanguinea family which benefit from afternoon shade. In the warmer zones it is best to put them where they will receive morning sun and afternoon shade.

When to trim: The best time to trim your plant is in the fall. Always keep at least 6-10 nodes on the branches above the Y for flowers the following year. If your Brug isn't that big and space isn't a problem then you don't need to trim it. It is the branches that are above the Y which will produce next year's flowers. Semi woody or woody cuttings are the easiest to root and do not rot as easily as green cuttings.

How to root your cuttings: These can be rooted in a glass jar with about 2" of water or in a small pot with good draining soil or vermiculite. Depending on the size of the cutting you want to keep it in a small pot till it roots to avoid rotting the cutting. A 2" pot is good unless you have a thick cutting. Keep your cutting in a light room but out of direct sunlight and water only enough to keep it moist but not wet. Over watering cuttings is the main cause of them rotting. Keeping it warm or on a heat mat will hasten the rooting process. More info here: Cuttings

Potting up cuttings: You have rooted your cutting and now see white roots in the bottom of the small pot that you rooted it in. The roots have filled the small pot. It's now time to put it into a 4" pot. Let it adjust for a few days in its new pot and start fertilizing with 1/2 strength fertilizer once a week. Before you know it you will again see roots in the bottom of the 4" pot. Now it is time to put it into a 1 gallon pot and start fertilizing full strength. After this the next pot size should be the one your Brug is going to stay in, preferably a 5 to 7 gallon or larger pot.

Pests: Insects seem to love Brugs. These are just a few of the more common ones that can cause damage to your Brugs.

  1. Spider mites: This pest is common especially in the winter. If you bring your plants into the warm house in the winter or in a warm greenhouse there is a good chance that they will get spider mites, which love the warm dry environment. The first signs of them are tiny webbing on the edges of the leaves. I use a magnifying glass to look for tiny dots on the underside of the leaf which are the mites. There are many home remedies which I myself have never had luck with. A good miticide spray is recommended. I have had good luck with Avid. It is expensive but does the job. If you have frequent mite infestations, alternate Avid with another miticide such as Kelthane since repeated use of the same chemical can lead to mites developing resistance.
  2. Aphids can also suck the life out of the new shoots of your Brug. In warmer weather lady bugs are purchased and used in greenhouses to get rid of this insect. An insect spray with Pyrethrum should be used.
  3. Snails/slugs: These like a dark moist environment. They hide during the day under the leaves or under the pots. At night they come out and chew holes in the leaves of your Brugs. Going out at night with a flashlight and picking them off is one way to get rid of them or you cans put a ring of ground eggshells or coarse sand around the trunk of your Brug. They will not go over it.
  4. Mealy bugs look like little balls of white cotton on the leaves and stems. Pyrethrum which is in many house plant sprays will eliminate them.
  5. Fungus gnats: These can be a problem with seedlings and cuttings kept indoors. Fungus gnats lay eggs that hatch into larvae just under the soil surface. The tiny maggots will eat the plant roots and the inside of seeds. To discourage fungus gnats from laying eggs, keep your soil on the dry side and cover lightly with sand or Diatomaceous Earth, making sure that the whole surface area is covered. Soaking "Mosquito Dunks" in a bucket of water and using the water for your plants also helps control the larvae.
  6. White flies: Pyrethrum can be used to control these flies. There is also a yellow sticky card that you place near the soil and plant. It draws the flies to the card and they are trapped on the sticky substance. The yellow sticky cards will also trap adult fungus gnats.
  7. Caterpillars: Some kinds will hide during the day and come out at night and chew holes in the leaves and then there are those that will snack on your plant in the daytime. Many are green in color and hard to see on the leaves. They can be picked off by hand and destroyed. Using Bt (Bacillus thuringensis) or a good systemic will help keep them in check. Pest pictures here