Celebrate Autumn and planting in the garden!
As we settle in to enjoy autumn and the weather cools down, the enthusiasm grows. The dewy mornings and often clear sunny days are incentive enough to get into the garden. Add the hope of rain and it’s a perfect fit. Gardeners across the country are celebrating the planting season. There is nothing more satisfying that digging holes in damp soil.
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Dry area plant selection
Over the years garden centres have seen a growing trend with homeowners selecting larger plants for their garden. The instant garden is what we all want. In fact, when establishing a new garden area planting small can be beneficial, particularly when dry area planting. Dry area planting is the term given to those plants which only receive water at planting and then fend for themselves during the cooler months, in the hope they are established enough as the weather warms up.
In this situation planting smaller is certainly beneficial. To ensure a maximum success rate when dry area planting follow these simple tips:
- Choose starter plants that have a strong root system yet are not massed with roots.
- As a general guide and depending upon the variety, the plant should be twice the height of the container it’s in.
Dry area planting tips
- Soak the plant (especially the complete root system in a bucket of Seasol (mix 30mL of concentrate per 9 litres of water) for at least 15 minutes before planting.
- Dig a hole at least 30cm x 30cm (even if the plants are in starter pots of 5cm x 5cm or forestry tubes). Loosening soil around this immediate area will allow roots to establish them selves quicky. A plant with a strong root system will cope with harsh summer conditions and be more tolerant of drought.
- Add a little soil improver such as Seasol Plant + Soil Booster and mix thoroughly with existing soil. Seasol Plant + Soil Booster is a complete garden health treatment that is suitable for all plants including Australian natives.
Dry area planting tips cont:
- Create a shallow dish around the base of the plant before watering in with Seasol solution. This is more important than ever when dry area planting. A shallow dish will retain a little extra water when it rains.
- Apply a coarse chunky mulch to reduce evaporation rate and keep soil temperature down. Mulch also works by minimising soil erosion during heavy downpours.
And just in case you’re not convinced planting small is better, it only takes 12 months for small plants to catch up to the size of the larger ones. The benefits are endless, more plants for the same money spent. Enjoy autumn planting.
Shivering through autumn
Deciduous trees and shrubs grown for their brilliant autumn colour, love a sudden cold snap. The mores sudden the cold snap is the better autumn colour will be. It seems that much of the south east of Australia is heading for incredible autumn colour this year. A plunge in the temperature in mid-April has resulted in plants colouring to rich tones and shades that western and northern gardeners can only dream of.
Spare a thought for those garden plants that love the warmer weather, a sudden cold snap can leave long lasting damage. Not only does a sudden cold snap affect gardeners but can have a long-term effect on gardens and certain plant species.
Helping plants survive a cold snap
Avoid the use of high nitrogenous fertilisers at this time of the year to prevent cold damage. Soft new growth is more affected than hardened off leaves. The addition of a composting mulch will create warmth as it breaks down. It also serves the purpose of an insulated blanket on the soil. Composting mulches are those mulches that break down over time and will feed the soil as they decompose. Remember to leave a gap around the plant’s trunk about 100mm when applying mulch to allow the warmth of the soil radiate from ground level.
If a cold snap is forecast cover your plants, bring sensitive varieties in under cover if possible and apply Seasol or Seasol GOLD to the soil. Seasol or Seasol GOLD with provide improved cold tolerance if applied regularly (every 2 to 4 weeks) throughout the year.
If early frosts are experienced resist the temptation of pruning the damaged growth off too early. Wait until the danger of cold has passed or the plant has started to recover on its own by producing new growth. As much as it’s hard to look at it, the damaged leaves will be protecting the new growth as it emerges.
Tried and Tested Plants
Its easy for beginner gardeners to head to the garden centre ready to purchase some plants and feel very overwhelmed when confronted with a huge choice of colourful labels, bright pots, and tantalising flowers.
There are many plants that are perfect if you have just started to gardening journey.
These are affectionately referred to as Grandma plants because they’re always there, dependable and perform brilliantly irrespective of the conditions thrown at them. Some are ideal for pots, others hanging baskets or in the ground.
Some plants to look out for
- Zygo cactus are a flowering succulent that lights up any bright patio area or balcony, with brilliant flowers in autumn/winter. Growing in a small terracotta pot or hanging basket the Zygo can be grown as a cutting or purchased as an established plant. Beware of overwatering as they love being on the dryer side.
- Monstera or Fruit Salad Plant has come in and out of fashion over the last 70 years. Perfect for an indoor position or on a patio in a pot. Monstera are a set and forget plant and will perform in a hardy garden situation lightly shaded by a canopy of foliage.
- If you’re looking for an edible slow growing tree perfect for a pot, look no further than a bay tree. Eventually this tree grows large, so will need to be contained in a pot. In their first few years they are slow to establish, so are ideal for pot culture. This tree is almost indestructible and the flavour and convenience of having access to fresh Bay leaves is worth it.
Research is telling us there are more Mums this year than ever before hooked on gardening. Whether mum loves growing a few vegies or is addicted to flowers here are a few ideas –
- Create a Bulb Lasagne Kit. Select a 40cm pot, bulb potting mix and a selection of bulbs perfect for layering.
- A rose is timeless. There are some fantastic new varieties of patio roses, that not only smell gorgeous, but will flower for many months.
- A potted tub of primulas, pansy and polyanthus will keep flowering continually until September, when Mum can repot with petunias and portulacas.
Mother’s Day Gift Ideas
- For the birds in Mum’s life a Kangaroo paw or Emu bush (Eremophila) will be loved for months.
- Select a citrus tree for favour and flavour. Mandarins make great gifts. They grow in most areas of the country, perform brilliantly in large containers, and produce some of the best perfume when in full flower.
- For something, a little different and you’d like a challenge when shopping for mum this year, look for the Tree Gardenia. Gardenia thunbergia is a large shrub or small tree and suited to in ground growing or for a large container.