This article could be called “the good, the bad and the ugly”. Here I am sitting in a pool of water and no doubt you will be thinking, lucky girl you have a swimming pool, but it is not the case. This humidity is a killer. Not only for people, but also for the garden, with all manner of fungal pests and insects creating problems.
The stressful conditions of February mean constantly watering and mulching your soil.
THE UGLY AND THE BAD – MAINTENANCE
Hydrangeas should have finished flowering, so now is the time to prune to ensure development of new shoots upon which next season’s blooms will grow. If your hydrangea is in a pot, repot or top up with some new potting mix and fertilise.
Keep the water up to your Hibiscus. Sometimes a summer prune is helpful to the plant with less demand for water.
What will March bring? As this hot weather continues, don’t get upset because of burnt foliage, spent flowers and disappointing lawns. Autumn will be on us soon enough. Remember, excitement lies ahead for you and your garden with new flowers, vegetables, bulbs and seed planting.
2023 officially marks 100 years of operation for Growcom, Queensland’s peak industry body representing fruit, vegetable and nut growers.
In store at the moment are the following: -
There are two varieties: black dwarf which is good for growing in a pot and white with no staining of your mouth or fingers. What’s the fun in that?! Both will tolerate most soil conditions, temperatures and frosts. Remember to prune after fruiting.
A nice shrub with olive shaped red berries. The flesh, when eaten, changes sour foods or drinks to sweet, with the effect lasting a couple of hours. Very good for cancer patients whose sense of taste changes due to chemotherapy.
Tamarillo or Tree Tomato
Will grow in full sun or part shade however, doesn’t like a windy area. These are great for the home garden. The egg-shaped fruit is a good source of Vitamin C and an added bonus is it requires very little pruning.
If you want a striking tree in your garden, this is one for you with the Jaboticaba producing fruit directly on the trunk. From flowering to mature fruit only takes one month. It is said the fruit tastes like a Muscat grape.
Runners can be planted out from March onwards. Plant 40cm apart with 75cm between the rows. Best planted late afternoon in moist soil. Water immediately after planting and don’t let the soil dry out for the next two weeks.
What does everybody want - flowering African Violets! Bright velvety blossoms in white, shades of blue, pink, purple and some with two colours. The flowers can be star-shaped, crested, fringed or ruffled with petals that are single, semi-double or double. Failure to flower can usually be attributed to inadequate light, watering with cold water, low humidity or high temperatures. They prefer temperatures between 15-22 degrees. A mature plant has one rosette of leaves called a crown. And often other rosettes will form at the base. These rosettes should be removed before they get too far into formation if you want a show plant.
They prefer a well-lit area out of direct sunshine during summer. As the weather cools, give them all the natural light possible with a couple of hours of direct early morning sunshine daily. A south facing window for the warm months and move to an east facing window in the cooler months. Too much light will burn the leaves and too little will not nourish the plant adequately for it to flower.
Use only water at room temperature to water your plants as cold water causes white spots on the leaves. Water from the bottom by placing the pot in a container of water allowing it to suck up through the drainage holes. Every so often you can water from the top to stop the soil from forming a top crust which cuts off air circulation to the roots. Keep the plant soil constantly moist, but not soggy.
You can add extra humidity by placing the pot on a tray of moist sand or gravel. This provides extra surface area from which the moisture can evaporate.
Mealy bugs and mites are enemies of African Violets. Mealy bug can be removed by using a cotton ball dipped in methylated spirits and for the mites use a miticide.
When potting up, do not use a pot larger than 10cm in diameter, use African Violet potting mix and fertilise weekly with Manutec African Violet Food.