If your garden looks a bit dreary in springtime and early summer, visit your local garden centre and plant some of the following beauties which should be blooming; plant them now and by next spring they will be well established, and put on an even more spectacular show.
Try the Golden Daisy, Wolharpuisbos (Euryops pectinatus); Renoster Arctotis, Renostergousblom (Arctotis acaulis); Trailing Daisy, Bergbietou (Dimorphotheca); Kingfisher Daisy, Bloumagriet (Felicia); Ice Plant (Delosperma); Geranium (Pelargonium); Cape Honeysuckle, Malangula, umsilingi (Tecoma capensis); Pincushion Flower, Bitterbos (Scabiosa columbaria); Twinspurs, Horinkies (Diascia integerrima); Lavender (Lavendula); Clivia, Bush Llily, Boslelie, umayime (Clivia miniata); Confetti Bush, Cape May, Aasbossie (Coleonema); and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Verbleikblom (Brunfelsia)
Highlighted plants are included in our Plant Index - Members can click on the links for more information on the plants mentioned. Not a member yet? Sign up here.
In extremely cold regions roses are pruned from the middle of August or even early September. In all other regions, when your roses start growing, they must be watered about twice a week; this is especially important in the summer rainfall regions. Water deeply to encourage healthy root systems; shallow watering only encourages surface roots. In the really warm regions roses should already be well advanced and need to be fed this month; but in regions were roses flower at the end of October, fertilising may be delayed until late September. Feed with a balanced organic fertiliser that is high in nitrogen and potassium like 8:1:6. Nitrogen and sufficient water are very important at this time of the year because you want to encourage lots of healthy green leaves to support the roots of your plants, as well as to protect the delicate stems from sunburn during our hot summer days.
To prolong that first glorious flush of blooms; “finger pruning” has become the new catch word in the gardening industry, but this only applies to hybrid tea roses. Simply put, it is the practice of pinching out about a third of the flowering tips from your plants. This will ensure that the bushes produce a steady supply of roses over a longer period, with better quality blooms. You can prune off just the tip from some stems and on other stems you can remove up to three or four leaves. Basal shoots grow from the bottom of the bush and are very vigorous. They need to be cut back to about knee height. Spray your roses regularly with an organic fungicide, to prevent powdery mildew and black spot.
Unfortunately as the weather warms up the weeds also start growing vigorously again, so be sure to weed them out before they set seed.
Insect pests also increase, so keep a vigilant eye out for them and spray immediately with an organic spray.
aphids become a problem, spray them with an organic insecticide; or you can simply wait for the ladybirds to arrive; it's amazing how many aphids one ladybird can devour. You can also hose the aphids off your plants with a strong jet of water.
If snails and slugs become a problem scatter an organic snail and slug killer like Ferramol; which is safe to use around pets and children.
Lavender spray for insects and fungal diseases:
Because of its strong scent and antiseptic qualities lavender makes a great insect repelling spray. It is excellent to control ants, aphids, whitefly and rust on plants and vegetables. Any lavender can be used but Dutch lavender works best. Rue, khakibos or marigolds can also be added. Fill a third of a bucket with roughly chopped herbs and then fill with boiling water and let it steep overnight. Strain and add a 6 tablespoons of grated green soap, stirring it in well. Spray over your plants and pour the mixture down ant holes. The brew can also be used to wash out bird cages, rabbit hutches and dog kennels.
A beautiful lawn needs regular care throughout the year but especially in spring and summer; so if you want a gorgeous green lawn this summer you need to start preparing now. In warm regions you can prepare your lawn in August, but in colder regions it is better to wait until September when all danger of frost is over. In the winter rainfall regions lawns are traditionally scarified and top-dressed in autumn but once the soil dries out a bit you can top dress lightly and fertilise with an organic lawn fertiliser that is high in nitrogen. Spring is also the best time to sow lawn seed or to lay instant lawn. (Read last months article)
Spring is a great time to divide overcrowded perennials like dietes, agapanthus, bulbinella, canna, and ornamental grasses like sedges (carex) and lily turf (mondo grass). (Read last months article)
Once all danger of frost is over you can start sowing or planting out seedlings of all those wonderful summer flowers like; alyssum, ageratum, aster, amaranthus, aquilegia, gaillardia, gazania, candytuft, celosia, cleome, cosmos, coleus, California poppy, lavatera, lobelia, nasturtium, nicotiana, nigella, marigold, petunia, phlox, dianthus, snapdragons, sunflower, salvia, torenia, verbena, vinca, zinnia, bedding dahlia, portulaca, New Guinea impatiens, begonia, etc. Grouping your seedlings together in the garden according to their watering requirements and mulching will save you a lot on water bills.
Highlighted plants are included in our Plant Index - Members can click on the links for more information on the plants mentioned. Not a member yet? Sign up here.
Find out all you need to know about growing South Africa’s favourite summer flowers in my e-book "Growing Bedding Plants in South Africa"
Colour will enhance the visibility of your business and bold floral plantings can be changed seasonally to continually attract attention. It will also add value to your home if you are hoping to sell, and can be used to effectively brighten up a dull garden for special occasions like weddings etc.
Click here to find out more.
Start feeding your garden in early spring and continue to do so every 4 to 8 weeks throughout summer.
Prune your late winter, spring and early summer flowering trees, shrubs and climbers when they have finished blooming and all danger of frost is over. If you are uncertain when a shrub flowers, it is always best to wait until it has finished blooming or fruiting before pruning.
Wait for spring flowering bulbs to die down properly before digging them up to store. (Read last months article)
Plant out summer bulbs that were purchased in August.
Dahlias will arrive at the stores by mid-September and are a valuable addition to the summer garden. The dwarf strains are compact and easy to grow, year after year. Divide overcrowded dahlia tubers that were left in garden beds and take cuttings from the new shoots of your favourite varieties. Don’t forget to plant some of the gorgeous new arums (Zantedeschias), feed your irises and stake tall growing liliums.
Watch out for lily borer and spray regularly with Margaret Roberts Biological Caterpillar spray if necessary. (Read last months article)
Clean your water features and divide your water plants, replanting only healthy pieces. Ensure that you use a fairly heavy soil mix, that won’t float to the top when you immerse your pots again. Pop in a Lilly Pill, or flowering plant stick to feed your plant, and press washed pieces of charcoal into the topsoil of your pot; charcoal will help to keep your water pure.
hydrangeas should be shooting so continue feeding your with a general purpose fertiliser and water regularly. To enhance colour of pink blooms, dust the soil around the plants with lime, and to enhance blue blooms sprinkle some aluminium sulphate around the roots of your plants or spray it onto the leaves by diluting 25 grams of aluminium sulphate into 5 litres of water; repeating every two weeks until January. Special colour enhancing feeders are also available from your local nursery.
Once your clivias start to bloom you can rest assured that spring has finally arrived. In the winter you need to keep them a bit on the dry side but now you can start watering more regularly. To keep them looking at their best, apply a layer of compost and a dressing of bone meal to the soil in late winter, or once they have finished blooming.
Pinch back the young growing tips of fuchsias regularly to encourage them to bush out.
Mulch your Azaleas, Camellias and Gardenias with acid compost, water regularly and feed with a food for acid loving plants. Camellias also make their annual flush of new growth in spring when they have finished blooming, so feed them with a slow release nitrogen fertiliser and water it in well.
Dig out a layer of old potting soil from the top of your outdoor container plants and replace with fresh potting soil. Feed with an organic fertiliser and water it in well.
If you did not do so last month, mulch all your beds to help conserve moisture during hot weather, and to protect the topsoil from washing away during heavy summer rains.
fruit trees last month, feed them now and water it in well. (Read last months article) Spray your deciduous fruit trees regularly with an eco friendly spray for fruit fly once 80% of the blossoms have fallen. Start thinning out the fruit on peaches, plums and apricot trees when it is 5mm in size.If you did not feed your
Feed your grape vines with organic 2:3:2 fertiliser and Magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts). Keep your Granadillas well watered and feed with 3:1:5. Feed your strawberries with organic 3:1:5. Feed boysenberries and loganberries with organic 2:3:2. Water your citrus trees deeply once a week as they come into flower. For tropical fruits keep the roots mulched and the soil moist. Figs, bananas, paw-paws and litchis will benefit from a dose of superphosphate. Avocados need a light dressing of manure, watered in well.
Fruit fly bait: Mix 3 tablespoons of molasses and 1 tablespoon of vinegar into 1 litre of hot water. Allow the mixture to cool before spooning it into containers, leaving the top open. Hang the containers into your fruit trees or place them around squashes and other susceptible crops. Fruit flies attracted to this solution will drown.
vegetables and herbs, so try your hand at growing your own organic vegetables this summer. If you do not have a vegetable patch try edging your flower beds with parsley and frilly lettuce for a really pretty effect. Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’ with its colourful stems will provide colour and texture to the flower garden, as will bronze fennel and dill. Vegetables and herbs grow easily in containers and if planted with companion plants like marigolds, nasturtiums, petunias and herbs, will look good enough to place on sunny patios or balconies. Sow annual herbs like basil, salad burnett, rocket, parsley, chervil and aniseThe garden centres are full of your favourite
Peas fix nitrogen in the nodules of their roots and if the entire plant is dug into the soil when it has finished bearing and is allowed to decompose, this nitrogen can be utilised by the next crops. Mound the soil over potatoes that have grown through the soil and feed with a fertiliser that is high in potash. Protect the shoots from late frosts.
“Growing Vegetables in South Africa” is written especially for South African gardeners and includes a sowing guide. All 100 pages of this e-book are jam-packed with good advice and lovely photographs; and the instructions are so easy to follow that even a child could understand. In fact, growing your own veggies can be so much fun that the whole family will want to get involved. Small children are especially fond of growing vegetables and this is sure to encourage them to eat them too.
Whether you want to grow vegetables in the conventional manner, or are keen to practice companion planting and organic methods, this e-book offers all the information you need to get you started; and includes recipes for many sprays that you can make at home. Not only are these methods lighter on your pocket, but they are definitely the healthier option and wont damage the environment either.
If you follow the growing instructions in my e-book you will soon be harvesting your very first crops and nothing is more rewarding than that first meal, using your own home grown produce.
I hope you will have as much fun reading my book as I had writing it.
In extremely cold parts of this region roses are pruned from the middle of August or even in early September. Do not prune frost bitten evergreen shrubs until all danger of frost has past, and only prune spring and early summer flowering shrubs when they have finished flowering. Only remove protection covers from your plants when you are certain all danger of frost has past. In warm regions you can prepare your lawn in August, but in colder regions it is better to wait until September when all danger of frost is over. Spring is also a good time to sow lawn seed or plant out runners and instant lawn.
Do not sow vegetables directly into the soil until all danger of late frost is over; but if you have a warm place to keep them, you can start sowing summer vegetables like sweet corn, squash, pumpkins, cucumber, cabbage, eggplants, peppers and tomatoes into seed trays, for planting out in late September or October.
In the very hot areas of this region, don’t plant Dahlias until the end of October; this will ensure that they flower in February, when temperatures are cooler.
Winter rainfall regions (Mediterranean)
Ensure that all your roses are pruned; and although lawns in this region are generally scarified and top-dressed in autumn, once the soil dries out a bit you can top dress lightly and fertilise with an organic lawn fertilizer that is high in both nitrogen and potassium like 5:1:5 or 3:1:5. Check for algae and moss on your paving and scrub it with a solution of copper sulphate or a moss killer.
Although autumn is the very best time to sow and plant in these areas, summer planting can be successful if your soil is rich and water retentive and if you choose hardy, water-wise plants; and group your summer flowering annuals according to their watering needs. It is also time to start planting your summer flowering bulbs.
Once all danger of cold weather is over you can start sowing or planting out summer flowering seedlings, and vegetables like; beans, sweet corn, Swiss chard, baby marrow, beans, pumpkin, gem squash, carrots, turnips, radish, onions, spring onions, and beetroot directly into garden beds. Sow into trays or plant out seedlings of cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, parsley, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. It is also time to sow or plant out potato tubers.
Summer rainfall (Temperate or Highveld Regions)
In cold parts of this region roses are pruned in late August or even early September. Do not prune frost bitten evergreen shrubs until all danger of frost has past, and only prune spring and early summer flowering shrubs when they have finished flowering. Only remove protection covers from your plants when you are certain all danger of frost has past. In warm regions you can prepare your lawn in August, but in colder regions it is better to wait until September when all danger of frost is over. Spring is also a good time to sow lawn seed or plant out runners and instant lawn.
Once all danger of frost is over you can start sowing or planting out summer flowering seedlings and vegetables. Potatoes are planted this month and you can start sowing beans, sweet corn, Swiss chard, baby marrow, beans, pumpkin, gem squash, carrots, turnips, radish, onions, spring onions and beetroot directly where they are to grow. Sow into trays or plant out seedlings of cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, parsley, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.
Subtropical summer rainfall regions
Sow lawn seed or plant out runners and instant lawn now. Fertilise your lawn with a balanced organic fertiliser and top dress if necessary; water well. Prune your winter flowering shrubs, but do not prune spring and early summer flowering roses and shrubs until they have finished flowering. Remove and plant suckers from your bromeliads to propagate new plants. Phalaenopsis orchids will be in full bloom and should last for about three months under ideal conditions; feed them regularly.
You can sow and plant flowers like ageratum, alyssum, aster, balsam, marigold, cleome, California poppy, Canterbury bells, celosia, cornflower, cosmos, bedding dahlia, dianthus, feverfew, gaillardia, gypsophila, helianthus, larkspur, lavatera, lobelia, marigold, nasturtium, portulaca, impatiens, salvia, verbena, zinnia, begonia, petunia and vinca.
Make a last sowing of beans and plant out sweet potato tubers. Sow beetroot, carrot, celery, cucumber, lettuce, radish, marrow, melons and sweet corn.