Now is also a good time to mulch. Mulch stabilizes the soil temperature (stops it freezing) and retains moisture. Autumn leaves, pebbles, bark chips, compost or nut shells can be used as mulch.
- Our roses are looking amazing but you need to remove and burn diseased rose foliage and buds, and deadhead regularly. Water well once a week and keep mulched. Spray against beetles and black spot
- Keep your blue hydrangeas blue by applying a mulch layer of bark, old teabags, ammonium sulphate or anything acidic. Keep pink colouring by applying dolomitic lime
- Apply acidic mulch to your Azaleas and Camellias and water well. Wait for flowers to fall before fertilizing
Now to mention some lovely plants that can be planted now:
- Portulacaria afra (Porkbush, Elephants Food, Spekboom). A succulent, low maintenance shrub with small pink flowers in summer. It attracts many insects, which in turn bring insect eating birds! Reputed to be one of the highest carbon dioxide absorbers of all plants, it is a wonderful air cleanser. Do your bit to save the planet!
- Cyclamen - one of the prettiest indoor plants for winter. They are so hardy and they actually enjoy the fresh air outside at night and don’t like to be kept in warm stuffy rooms. Their elegant flowers nestle amongst dark green leaves. They are available in red, white, pink, cerise and of course cyclamen. Always water them from the base to avoid bulb rot.
- If you are in charge of your office plants create a welcoming and professional image. Use bigger plants with strong, architectural shapes to make a bold statement. Try Yucca, Ficus, Schefflera or Draceanea for impact and low maintenance. Flowering plants add a warm feeling but need to be replaced regularly. Try a set of square-shaped metal containers for a modern, non-fussy look!
- For your homes, the nostalgic old stoep favourites are making a comeback. Ferns, African violets, peace-in-the-home, palms. Remember that they’re greening your environment, purifying your air and relieving your stress.
- Aquilegia - a charming spring and summer flowering perennial, with soft fern-like leaves, which loves semi-shade. It has multi-coloured blossoms, each one contrasting inner and outer petals. It is evergreen, hardy, self-seeding and grows to heights of 35cms.
- Stocks - Oh! The sweet, spicy fragrance of these annuals is intoxicating! Don’t wait to stop and smell the roses.... smell the Stocks! They love the sun and grow in lovely shades of purple, pink, cream and mauve.
You can also still plant the following seeds or seedlings - alyssum, antirrhinum, calendula, carnation, chrysanthemums, cineraria, delphinium, dianthus, foxglove, gazania, lobelia, penstemon, phlox, schizanthus, sweetpea, verbena and viola. If the first buds on flowering annuals are nipped out, the plants will concentrate their energy on growing into sturdier and bushier plants and regular dead-head will extend the spring display in your garden. Fertilize regularly with Talborne’s seedling food or Multifeed Flower-gro.
Let us not forget what needs to be done in your garden this month.
- Buy your frost cover before the end of the month so that you are prepared for that freak early frost?!
- Divide your clump-forming perennials
- Plant your bulbs ASAP
- Watch out for snails
- Feed all your flowering seedlings every two weeks and remove dead flowers to keep them looking stunning the whole winter and into spring
- Feed herbs and veggies with a feed high in nitrogen (remember it’s the first number on the fertilizer bag)
- Give your lawns a last feed which should be high in potassium (the last number on the fertilizer bag) to prepare them for the winter and mow where needed (hopefully for the last time until spring)
- Water your lawns and beds regularly to suppress termite activity. You can control them chemically with Kamikaze Termite Bait or Scatterkill for insects.
- Fungal or rotting diseases persist in the cooler months. Too much shade is a common cause of mildew and fewer flowers. Don’t plant too close together - good air circulation between plants is essential
- Don’t be impatient to prune - wait for shrubs and trees to finish flowering
- Collect fallen leaves and add to your compost heap. Remove all unwanted weeds
- Clip your topiaries regularly to promote dense growth
- Water in the morning if possible and do not put your plants to bed wet
- Sow 'sugar snap' peas now and support developing giant broad beans. Pinch out the growing tips when in bloom
- Remove all runners from strawberry mother plants and plant the little rooted ones out
- Veggies that can be planted / sown now for a winter crop include: artichoke, broad beans, broccoli, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, peas, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, onions, radishes and Swiss chard.