Welcome to spring, enjoy your garden, inside and out!
With the renewed focus on edible plants over the last 6 months, it’s understandable the ornamental garden has taken a back step. Don’t ever discount the importance of an ornamental garden to improve our health and mental wellbeing. Research has proven that it only takes 45 seconds of staring through a window or at nature to have a positive benefit on our health. If there was ever research to back up establishing more plants in our lives, then this is it.
Available space to garden shouldn’t be the number one limiting factor to having a garden or interaction with nature. A balcony or courtyard can be decorated with green very quickly. If you’re someone who loves gardens but doesn’t love gardening contact your local garden centre (ring or call in) and request a selection of hardy plants for pots or containers.
There are many Australian plants for pots that will tolerate hot winds, dry soil and sunny positions and are perfect for those of amongst us, who just want it to look good with minimal care. Top tips to growing native plants in pots include:
- Select large clay pots. Clay pots tend to act as an insulation layer and will keep soil cool through summer.
- Use a premium potting mix formulated for Australian plants and feed with a controlled release granular fertiliser such as PowerFeed Controlled Release Plant Food All Purpose including Natives at the start of each season through the growing season.
- Most native plants require a sunny position to flower at their best.
- Prune lightly (or to shape) after flowering to keep the plants bushy and contained.
- Mix the planter up with a few different varieties. Select a colour theme or plant for the seasons.
- In addition to flowers select plants for foliage colour or better still create a planter with foliage contrasts alone.
Selections for foliage:
- Eremophila nivea, Variegated westringia and Lomandra Limelight
- Hakea victoria, Callistemon Great Balls of Fire and Adenanthos meisneri
- Melaleuca incana nana, Brachysema ‘Brown Butterfly’ and Leucophyta brownii
Variety & photo @austraflora – Westringia-Edna-Walling-Rosemary
Selections for colour:
- Leschenaultia biloba, Verticordia chrysantha and Anigozanthos ‘Orange Gem’
- Eremophila var. brevifolia, Pimelia physodes ‘Qualup Bell’ and Conostylis candicans
- Chorizema cordatum, Chrysocephalum ‘Desert Flame’ and Anigozanthos ‘Bush Pearl’
Selection for a semi shaded position:
- Dampiera diversifolia, Boronia megastigma brown and Lomandra ‘Tanika’
- Dianella ‘Cherry Red, Boronia heterophylla and Viola hederacea
- Austromyrtus dulcis, Correa Dusky Bells and Lomandra ‘Verday’
Variety & photo @austraflora – Correa-Dusky-Bells
Maidenhair Fern – Friend or Foe
At this time of the year Maidenhair ferns are looking so spectacular that its easy to buy two or three at the blink of an eye. The soft delicate foliage on arching branches, makes it an ideal choice for well- lit indoor areas or where there is a little moisture in the air, such as a bathroom.
Maidenhairs will very quickly tell you they are not happy and as soon as the soil dries out the fronds shrivel and crisp up. The reason why many gardeners have a love-hate relationship with them.
Tips for successful Maidenhair Fern cultivation:
- Maidenhair ferns require indirect light, if placed indoors and in a moist cool shaded position outdoors.
- Self-watering pots are ideal as the plant has access to continual moisture. If planting in a clay or glazed pot, select a pot at least 1/3 the height of the plant.
- Add coco peat to the potting mix to increase water holding capacity of the soil, without waterlogging the plant. Coco peat holds just the right amount of moisture around the plant’s roots.
- Controlled release fertiliser for ferns scubas as PowerFeed Controlled Release Plant Food Pots & Planters Indoor & Outdoors applied at the beginning of every season is the easy and safest way of feeding.
- If the foliage dies back at any stage cut the damaged fronds off and they will shoot away quickly.
- If the plant has dried out completely, cut the whole plant back to ground level and keep in a moist shady position and in 95% of the time will shoot away again. Apply Seasol to promote strong healthy growth (30mL concentrate per 9 litres of water).
These exotic fruits look stunning on a fruit platter and despite their reputation can be grown in the home garden. Don’t hold your breath or expect to make your fortune growing dragon fruit but be prepared to be fascinated.
Dragon fruit is the name give to several different cacti species that produce edible fruit. These often, straggly plants have the potential to take over the back yard and will need to be kept under control to produce fruit. The aim is to allow as much new growth to develop every year, because they flower on their new growth. What they lose in plant beauty the certainly make up for it in the spectacular fruit.
Protect from frost and place in a large pot, where they receive warm winter sun or plant in a sunny position in the garden with enough space for them to develop. Along the edge of a shed wall or a fence growing around a frame is the ideal position.
Five seed varieties to plant now for summer harvest
Growing vegies from seed is a great school holiday or lockdown project and the top five varieties will continue to produce for months. To speed up the germination process soak the seed for 24 hours before sowing in a solution of Seasol in water (30mL concentrate per 9 litres of water – standard watering can).
Tomatoes – The Cherry tomato varieties are some of the most productive and versatile. Producing sweet tasty fruit for months they are a firm favourite will everyone in the family. Select a sunny position, improve the soil, and keep well mulched. They can be harvested individually or as a truss and allowed to ripen inside.
Silverbeet – Is another variety of vegie that is perfect for beginners. As with all leafy greens they require well improved soil when planting or will become stunted and full of pests. Also, the flavour will tend to be bitter, so fortnightly fertilising will ensure full of flavour greens suitable for sandwiches, salads, or quiches. For sweet tender leaves harvest when they are about 10cm long.
Capsicums – Are proven performers in Australian gardens and in frost free areas have the potential to fruit for more than one season. The banana shaped sweet yellow varieties are by far the most productive and the tastiest. Plant from seedlings or semi advanced plants to get a head start on the spring vegie garden.
Zucchinis – Are the perfect vegie for beginner gardeners. Grow them fast in a sunny position, in well improved soil. Zucchinis are best enjoyed when harvested when small, about 10cm long. Enjoy lightly steamed or sliced thinly raw in a green salad.
Dwarf Beans – Produce kilograms of tender beans in a small space. Perfect for small space garden these low growing bushes can be massed planted and only reach heights of approx. 40cm. Improve the soil with compost or sheep manure and sow 2 or 3 seeds in each hole. Seedlings are a favourite amongst snails or slugs, so inspect seedlings after dark and use the stomp method of disposal.
Spring Vegie Patch Tips
- To revitalise the soil apply well rotted manure or compost or a soil improver and conditioner such a Seasol Liquid Compost (50mL concentrate per 9 litres of water) every 3 months or whenever needed.
- To get your seeds or seedlings off to a get start apply Seasol GOLD (40mL concentrate per 9 litres of water) every 2 to 4 weeks to promote robust, healthy growth, rapid strong root development.
- For a bumper crop in the vegie patch apply PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables (5omL concentrate per 9 litres of water) every 2 to 4 weeks.