This month, let’s get ready for winter!

As cold weather settles in, gardens start to wind down as plants enter winter dormancy or mark time awaiting the return of warm weather so they can resume the business of growing. With autumn-flowering shrubs especially sasanqua camellias in full bloom and new plants emerging in the vegie patch, there’s still lots to do in the garden.

Lawn care and autumn leaves

While it isn’t yet an option to put the mower away, reduce mowing frequency and mow the lawn lightly leaving it slightly longer. This shaggy look keeps the grass green and lush over the months ahead. Mowing the lawn also removes fallen leaves allowing sunshine to reach the grass to help it to put on a little growth.

To keep your lawn looking good throughout autumn and prepare it for winter stresses, apply Seasol Lawn + Soil Booster to the lawn and water it in thoroughly after application. It’s a great product to use just before rain is due, as it improves lawn and soil health.

While drifts of autumn leaves are part of an autumn garden, they do need to be raked up from time to time. On hard surfaces fallen leaves can become slippery after rain. Fallen leaves can also block drains and gutters so regularly clean and clear these to avoid flooding.

Don’t waste raked or mown leaves or even those removed from gutters – use them as mulch or to make leaf mould, a leaf-based compost. Once leaves break down (usually in around six to nine months) and turn into leaf mould use it as a soil or potting mix additive or as mulch on garden beds or potted plants.

Great tips, jobs and advance in what to do in your garden in May 2023

Checking trees and shrubs

As the leaves fall, a network of bare branches is revealed on deciduous trees, shrubs and climbers. These branches are not dead although gardeners are sometimes concerned that plants are dead. If you’ve observed the gradual change from lush green and leafy to bare stems and trunks via autumn leaf colours, it is clear the plant is dormant and will leaf up again in spring, but if you have just come across a bare tree or shrub in the garden, it may look dead.

To check whether a plant is dead or just resting up for winter, bend a stem. It should be flexible and bend but not break. If the plant is dead, the stem will be brittle, brown and snap not bend. If you are still unsure, wait until spring to see if it springs back to life. Deciduous plants regain their leaves between late winter and mid spring depending on the species and local climate.

To give your deciduous trees and soil some TLC apply Seasol Plant + Soil Booster. It’s a pelletised complete garden health treatment with seaweed and compost to promote healthy soil and strong growth come spring.

Transplanting and planting

As many popular garden plants are winter dormant, late autumn and into very early spring are the best time of the year to move plants, divide them to replant or share, and plant new ones – especially those that are sold bare rooted.

Hardware and garden centres are currently carrying good stocks of deciduous plants such as roses, fruit trees, fruiting vines such as thornless blackberries and raspberries, shrubs and ornamental trees so there’s lots of choices.

Although plants are dormant, they should be planted promptly or potted up into temporary potted homes if you can’t plant them immediately.

Prepare their new home by adding homemade compost and organic matter and/or Seasol Super Compost. To help bare rooted plants, soak them in a bucket of diluted Seasol before planting or repotting and then use the water to water in the plant so it settles into its new home.

Great tips, jobs and advance in what to do in your garden in May 2023
Great tips, jobs and advance in what to do in your garden in May 2023

Roses in autumn

Many modern roses continue to flower well into autumn, so deadhead spent flowers and apply PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Roses & Flowers fortnightly until flowering has finished.

Other rose bushes are beginning to look rather rangy and in need of a good prune. Roses are best pruned in winter, so hold off for now. Pruning may stimulate new growth which could be damaged by cold winter conditions.

In subtropical and tropical zones prune in June, in warm temperate zones prune in early July and in cold areas delay pruning until August. While you are waiting to prune, pick up fallen leaves.

May is a good time to buy new rose bushes which are becoming available in hardware and garden centres now as bare-rooted stock. Also look at the major rose growers who will have their catalogues online with a stunning range of flower colours.

Five important jobs for late autumn

Late autumn is the perfect time to prepare the garden for the onset of winter. Here are a few jobs to add to the list to prepare for the seasons ahead.

  1. Regularly rake up fallen leaves and add them to the compost heap or leaf bin.
  2. Keep vegetables growing strongly with regular applications of liquid fertiliser such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables.
  3. Plant spring-flowering bulbs now such as daffodils, tulips and hyacinths to enjoy bountiful flowers.
  4. Keep an eye on the weather and be prepared to protect frost-sensitive plants with a cover overnight if frost is forecast. Use shadecloth, frost netting, an old sheet or cardboard and remove in the morning after the frost has cleared.
  5. Cover bare soils with a light cover of organic mulch such as sugarcane mulch, lucerne or pea straw to avoid weeds germinating.

Vegetables to grow now

Fresh vegetables to enjoy over the months ahead include leafy greens such as lettuce (look for soft hearted varieties as these are quick and easy to grow) and rocket.

It is also the season to grow peas, cabbage, broccoli and other brassicas, silverbeet and spinach. Also plant root vegies including radish, turnip and beetroot.

Broad beans are to be planted now but may not form flowers or set pods until spring however, you’ll be glad of them whenever they are ready.

For the best results over the months ahead, grow vegetables in the sunniest part of the garden. If planting into containers to take advantage of sunny spots, use a good quality potting mix such as Seasol Advanced Potting Mix and water every 10-14 days with liquid plant food and soil improver such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes and Vegetables.


How to look after cyclamens

Cyclamen care

Cyclamen are very popular indoor flowering plants with colours of white to shades of pink, lavender and red. Enjoy them during the cooler months of the year and they make great gifts, especially for Mother’s Day.

Keep cyclamen in good condition by placing them in a brightly lit position away from heating. Regularly remove spent flowers or discoloured yellow leaves by gently twisting the stem at its base to remove it from the corm.

Keep the corm dry with careful watering or by allowing the plant to absorb water from its base. Liquid feed with PowerFeed Indoor & Potted Plants around the soil away from the corm, leaves and stems to stimulate more buds.

Caring for succulents

Succulents are popular, especially in pot plants where they are grown both indoors and outside. They are popular because they are easy to grow and come in a variety of leaf colours and forms. Some flower in autumn and winter bringing welcome colour.

Lookout for kalanchoes, such as Flaming Kate and Freedom Bells, for long-lasting colour indoors and out. Agaves also bring welcome colour through the cooler months of the year. These outdoor plants tolerate cool conditions and their flowers are highly attractive to nectar-feeding birds.

Not all succulents enjoy cold conditions. Some are susceptible to frost damage while others can rot during prolonged rain. To protect these plants from damage over the months ahead, grow them in pots and move the containers into a sheltered but sunny location where they’ll be protected from both the cold and the wet.