If you are focusing on the weather, we have just past midwinter, having experienced the longest night and the shortest day! Now visualize a blazing fire in a hearth, a glowing African sunset, aloes, arctotis, bokbaaivygies, calendulas, clivias, gazanias, kniphofias, oranges oozing chin-dripping juice, strelitzias and poppies nodding in the breeze. These images in shades of orange all bring a glow to the heart. If you are being kept warm by a cosy log fire don’t throw the ashes away. They are high in potassium and can be spread around shrubs to encourage flowering and fruiting.
On these chilly winter days when nothing much is happening in the garden, but you feel that you need to do something, pot up your favourite plants. Plant a flowering camellia in a pot with a mix of good soil and acid compost to decorate your patio. By doing this you are actually bringing your cold garden closer to your warm home and so you can still enjoy the outdoors in this frosty weather. You can also repot ferns and any pot-plants that have outgrown their containers. To spoil you we will also plant up a container for you if you buy the ingredients from our Colourful Nursery. If you are feeling a bit down pop into the nursery and I guarantee you will leave in high spirits – it is looking amazing. While you are there take a stroll to the river – the council is re-enforcing the banks of the Braamfontein Spruit and to watch the huge machines shift the soil around is mind blowing!
Your indoor pot plants can suffer from a lack of humidity in heated rooms. Place a saucer of water nearby or stand pots on pebbles in a tray of water. Feed your flowering pot plants like cyclamen, primula acaulis and calceolaria.
We also have some beautiful orchids such as cymbidiums and phalaenopsis which make excellent indoor or patio plants. Their growing medium should be a mixture of chopped fibrous loam, river sand, leaf mold, sphagnum moss or pine bark. Feed them with specialized orchid food July to December. Cymbidiums like light shade in summer and some sun in winter, good ventilation and mist on their foliage during hot weather and moderate watering - never allow them to dry out.Phalaenopsis like warm, humid conditions, 75% shade and also do not allow them to dry out.
I expect your aloes are flowering prolifically! Ryan and his family went to the Creighton Aloe Festival in Kwazulu Natal where they boarded a steam train to view these beautiful plants high up in the mountains.
For the rest of the month you need to continue to protect your plants from frost damage and water in the early part of day to allow plants to dry out before night fall.
Some annuals that we see have defied the cold in the nursery and would do very well in your gardens include:
- Primula malacoides make a striking display when massed and yet are equally good as container specimens and will flower through winter and well into spring.
- Pansies and violas which can be frozen solid in the morning but as they thaw out, their little flowers turn their heads up and smile at you! Plant them in as much sun as possible.
- Calendulas in bright yellow or orange which liven up any part of a sunny garden. Their large size draws your attention and remember one flower is actually a bunch of flowers as each petal is actually an individual flower, so as the “Bakers salticrax” advert goes, at the end of the month you need only give your loved one a single calendula flower!
- Remember that all our poppy flowers are there for you to help yourselves too! Please feel free to pick as often as you like because in reality you are helping us to maintain these plants in peak condition because being annuals, their job is to make seeds and then when they have, they will die, so if we pick the flowers before they set seed, the plants will just keep producing more and more flowers to try and fulfil their job!
Continue to tie up your sweet peas and when they start flowering, pick, pick and then pick again to encourage still further flowering!!!
Now is a good time to plant nemesias and diascias. They are both indigenous, easy to grow, like a sunny position, come in a range of colours and are beautiful when contrasted with white alyssum. They are excellent as edging or dotted between other perennials.