Spring and it’s time to plant!
As the weather warms up around the country our attention turns the beauty within the garden.
New growth and abundant flowers reminds us of the reasons why we have to stuff just one more plant into that small space or plant the tree we can’t do without.
Gardening is contagious at this time of the year. Start talking to a friend about plants and before you know it you have swapped names and cuttings of favourites that are going home with many more plants than you have spaces for. A trip to the local garden centre usually results in the same problem, too many plants for the space that is left to plant them. I tell everyone it’s my ‘no weed’ strategy, jam as many plants into an area, let them grow and because there are minimal bare soil areas exposed to sunlight no weeds will grow.
Dahlias were commonly grown by our grandparents, producing vibrant flowers throughout the warmers months.
They have been forgotten about in recent years, but deserve a position in the garden as they are so versatile and will produce colour for months.
Top tips for Dahlias
- If planting from tuber select strong firm tubers and plant into a well improved soil or large pot. Taller growing varieties will require staking and soil that has been improved with compost or sheep manure/cow manure.
- If planting from seedling soak in a solution of Seasol (30mL per 9 litres of water – standard watering can or bucket) for at least 1 hour before planting.
- Keep plants away from the hot summer winds and as they grow nip the tips out to encourage more stems in beginning. This will result in more flowering stems and ultimately more flowers. Apply Seasol and PowerFeed for Flowers, Fruit & Citrus (30mL Seasol and 50mL PowerFeed per 9 litres of water – standard watering can) every 2 to 4 weeks for masses of stunning blooms.
Dahlias will perform brilliantly mass planted in large pots and will add both foliage and flower colour to a sunny verandah, terrace or balcony.
Growing plants in pots can be very rewarding. Large oversized containers with a mix of species will produce foliage colour, flowers and interest for many months.
Tips to mixed container planting;
- Select large containers and only use premium potting mix for planting. This is suitable for all types of plants from Australian natives to succulents.
- Select different varieties of plants with similar growing habits to be planted together. Dedicated shade lovers or sun tolerant species will make your life much easier when it comes to plant care.
- When planting mixed containers decide what ‘look’ you want to create. Is it a formal style with structured foliage plants or will soft cascading varieties look best in the area?
- Contrasting colours look great in large multi planted pots. Take a colour wheel with you to the garden centre. This will help you decide what plants go together. Soft pastel colours help create a cooling ambience to an area, while brilliant strong colours will help warm an area. A designers trick to attract the attention to an area of the garden.
Stunning flower displays
To keep the plants looking their best use a granular fertiliser suitable for pots at the beginning of every season.
Apply PowerFeed Controlled Release All Purpose including Natives. Application rates are on the back of the container. Remember to mix into the top soil or potting mix and water in thoroughly.
Summer colour combinations:
- Scaevola, Dahlia (with dark burgundy foliage) and Coreopsis
- Bambino Bougainvillea, Verbena and Liriope Limelight
- Prostrate Rosemary, Dwarf Buddleia, Salvia greggii
Silver colour combinations:
- Leucophyta, Olearia and Lavender
- Cerastium ‘Snow in Summer, Westringia and Senecio
- For a mixed silver planter combine Olearia, Lavender,Leucophyta and Westringia
Essentials for the Garden Shed
Every gardener has their favourites that are always close at hand to make life easier in the garden.
- An old serrated edge kitchen knife. They come in very handy for dividing perennials and trimming fleshy foliage.
- Sharp clean secateurs and loppers. A coating of silicon spray after cleaning will prevent surface rust.
- Piece of shade cloth to use as emergency sun protection over tender plants if extremely hot weather is forecast.
- White oil is safe, non-toxic and controls many of the sap sucking pests that are a problem through spring. Dipel and Success will control caterpillars safely and Natrasoap is used for soft bodied insects such as aphids.
- Blood and bone is an essential fertiliser for all garden plants and can be spread around the whole garden safely.
- Controlled release fertiliser for pots, fruit trees and natives. Controlled release fertilisers are the future in fertiliser technology. They release nutrients gradually, reducing leaching and wastage. Try PowerFeed Controlled Release Plant Food in three unique formulas of All Purpose including Natives, Flowers, Fruit & Citrus and Tomatoes and Vegetables.
- A mulcher – petrol or electric depending upon the size of the garden and the amount of green waste produced. Even large weeds can be transformed into quality soil improver and save water in the garden.
- Yellow sticky bug traps for trapping insects around the veggie garden. These sticky strips successfully trap white fly, aphids, moths and leaf hoppers.
- Round mouthed long handled shovel will save backs. Select long handled tools rather than short handled models and use the extra leverage of the long handle to your advantage. The round mouth makes digging holes very easy, particularly in heavy or root matted soil.
- A bucket and Seasol concentrate. Perfect for sick plants, new transplants and pots, in fact the whole garden benefits from Seasol (30mL per 9 litres of water ) all year round.