It’s official Autumn, but Summer is still around!
It’s officially the start of autumn and even though some areas of our wide country haven’t started to cool down, gardeners are getting itchy garden gloves. Cool nights and beautiful days are only around the corner. We all dream of spending the coming sunny days digging, planning, planting and mulching, because the cool weather and rain is only around the corner.
There is a sense of anticipation in the air and there is nothing more pleasurable than planning a colourful spring garden. Spring flowering bulbs are a favourite and one if the best waterwise group of plants around. They are planted when the weather is cool, grow when the soil is damp, flower when the days are perfect and go into dormancy, waiting for next autumn when it gets too hot.
How to get the best out of Spring Flowering Bulbs
- Plant those varieties that can be left in the ground to perform year after year even in warmer areas. Daffodils, Jonquils and Dutch Iris are perfect for naturalising under existing trees or for parkland environments, repeating brilliant flowers year after year.
- To feed bulbs as they shoot out of the ground, at bud formation time and immediately after flowering. After flowering is the most important time as this is when the bulb is developing its embryo for next year’s flowering. Mix 30mL of PowerFeed or PowerFeed for Flowers, Fruit & Citrus in 9 litres of water (standard watering can) and apply every two weeks from planting until your bulbs finish flowering. For an extra boost when growth appears, sprinkle 1 scoop per square metre of PowerFeed with Troforte, Flowers, Fruit & Citrus around the bulbs and mix into the soil. Water in throughly after application.
- In warmer areas of Australia plant naturalising bulbs deeper than recommended. This ensures they will survive higher than normal soil temperatures over summer avoiding dehydration and shrivelling.
- When planting in pots form layers of bulbs as the pot is filled. This will ensure a pot of colour over many weeks with striking foliage and flower combinations.
Top 5 easy to grow Spring Flowering Bulbs
- Dutch Iris
- Hybrid Freesias
Avoid planting varieties of bulbs that have potential to become environmental weeds in your local area.
March is the change of the season with the fruit garden. Most of the stone fruit has finished, with only a few varieties of late plums left to pick. Our focus now turns to the citrus trees as the first mandarins and oranges are only a couple of months away from ripening. At this time of the year they need a little extra water, particularly if they are in full fruit and the summer has been dry. An application of composting mulch such as Lucerne or pea hay will also help protect those shallow roots and feed the soil as it breaks down. Also try Seasol Liquid Compost (50mL concentrate per 9 litres of water) to help revitalise soil and increase worm and microbial activity.
Look out for curling and silvering of the soft new growth. The larvae of the Citrus Leaf Miner causes havoc for such a small caterpillar. The adult lays her egg under top layer of the leaf and the larvae mines its way through the tender new shoots causing silvering and curling. White oil is used a preventative treatment more so than a control as once the damage is seen it is often too late. Alternatively, the most effective organic control is squashing the larvae at the first signs of leaves curling. Also apply Seasol (30mL concentrate per 9 litres of water) every 2 to 4 weeks to help give citrus better tolerance to these pests.
If you only have 20 minutes at a time in the garden at this time of the year, make it count. There are a few tasks that can be completed in less than 20 minutes, which will have you reaping rewards for the rest of the year.
- Time for the planting the first crop of potatoes, get them in early before the frost (in prone areas) sends them black.
- In the vegetable garden (or where ever you have some space) it is time to plant cauliflower, brussell sprouts, broccoli and cabbage. Get these in nice and early and they can be harvested before the cabbage white butterfly eats them for you.
- Other vegetables to plant include dwarf beans, beetroot, carrots, loose leaf lettuce, Asian vegetables and silverbeet.
- As soon as it starts to cool down plant coriander, it loves the cool weather and will stay in leaf and not go straight to seed.
- March is the month of dead-heading roses, pruning agapanthus flower stalks, tidying up annuals for their second flowering flush and pruning the new growth on the Wisteria.
- Fertilise the lawn with a slow release fertiliser to help strengthen the root system to build resistance against drought. Try PowerFeed LawnFeed or PowerFeed Buffalo LawnFeed.
- Feed all pots with PowerFeed Controlled Release Plant Food All Purpose including Natives and water in thoroughly after applying. Top up pots with potting mix if needed and replace tired annuals with pansys, violas or lobelia.
When we think of Hibiscus plants we tend to think their time to shine is throughout summer, when in fact autumn is the best flowering time for these hardy plants. Hibiscus grow very successfully in a range of climates and are drought hardy, neat, easy to maintain and add much needed colour to the garden at this time of the year. They will benefit from an application of PowerFeed Controlled Release Plant Food Flowers, Fruit & Citrus this month and next. This will not only improve the fertility of the soil it will also to supply much needed nutrients to plant to build up their cold resistance
Avoid pruning plants throughout autumn, even if they look a little straggly because any new growth can be damaged by cold throughout winter. Always prune hibiscus as the weather warms up in early spring. Up to 1/3rdof the foliage can be removed and as the plants starts to shoot away remove the growing tips to encourage a bushy shape.