Tonight we had a brilliant talk on pests and diseases by Ray Broughton, who is a horticultural scientist and lecturer with over 30 years experience. It was a very informative evening and here are a few notes from his talk which covered so many areas and although not specifically bonsai there were some very useful tips and helpful ideas for improving the health of your bonsai trees.

Ray Broughton was a lecturer at Sparsholt College for many years started his talk explaining about the use of chemicals and how to tackle some of the pest and disease problems without using harmful chemicals. He went on throughout his talk to provide us with some very useful gardening hints and illustrated his points with some helpful slides. He gave us an insight into his years of research and spoke on the latest developments in horticultural science. He gave us over 100 top tips and talked about how to prevent leggy plants, pruning to aid with hormone balancing for improved growth, tackling pests, making your own compost, moss control and so many more topics.

He does a wide range of talks, so worth booking him in for a club night as he will entertain and inform you. Here are a few of the talks he does.

  • Pests and diseases in the garden
  • Topical tips and new ideas
  • Container gardening
  • Pruning shrubs, flowering plants, tree
  • Making your own fertiliser and compost
  • Seed production, propagation techniques
  • Lawn improvements, moss control, feeding hedges

Use of inset flower pots

Flower pots with sunken holes and inset holes allow for good drainage as the soil can drain freely. However if pots ares flat to ground then the pots won’t drain.


Inset pot on the left and flat bottomed pot to left

Slug deterrents

Wipe your bonsai pots with neat malt vinegar once a month to keep slugs away during growing season or use copper rings but these will need cleaning with emery cloth. If you use inset pots wipe vinegar on the bottom as slugs like to hide in the inset.


Cleaning tools

Tomato sauce is an excellent cleaning product which aids in keeping your tools sharp. Use monthly to clean tools in the tomato sauce and it will sterilise, lubricate and clear off the burr. However, use Heinz as other brands are less effective.


Moss treatment 

Many lawns suffer from moss but it is not due to it being too damp, not aerated, compacted, shady or car park syndrome, it is down to the fact that the grass plant is weaker in those conditions so moss uses the grass as protection. It creates a micro climate with bare areas where weeds can then exploit this so you need to kill off the moss and sow grass seed.

Moss killer with iron in it will speed up respiration of the moss and it goes black after 3 days but do not over apply. Then apply good quality grass seed without rye grass and use a luxury lawn seed with bents and fescues. Scarify the lawn first before then sowing the grass seed.

To get good grass germination get a 6 inch pot with paper towels in bottom and fill with seed. Add this to a general purpose compost, so mix seed with 3/4 compost & mix up in black bag and place in a cool dark place for 3- 4 days and it should start to germinate. Then spread over the lawn and after 5 days you should see grass growing.

Fact sheets

Available from Ray Broughton via e-mail at Please make a donation if you receive the fact sheets to a worth while charity called Perennial which aim is to support gardeners and people who work in the horticultural industry who need help.