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my Kowhai tree is about 5-7 years old but has never really done well. it is straggly & has never really flowered as it should. I have never actually known what to feed it. could you please advise me what i should be doing to rejuvenate & establish the tree properly

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Depending on which variety of Kowhai you have (there are eight species) some species of Kowhai are deciduous, losing their tiny, dull green leaves each winter. Some species also pass through a juvenile stage of densely tangled foliage (branches and leaves) for six to ten years before they start to flower, eventually growing into a small tree up to ten metres tall. It would also pay to check for any pests such as Kowhai Caterpillar, they are hard to spot among the leaves but will very quickly strip a tree bare. This will rarely cause long term harm and a healthy tree will recover quickly. However you may need to protect young kowhai recently planted with Derris Dust or Success. In spring you can add a couple of applications of liquid fertiliser such as Yates Nitrosol Liquid fertiliser available at Palmers.

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