Hi to all the gardeners.

A lot of people are doing it tough at the moment. For those who are worried about their gardens here are a few things to help it recover. First, with all this rain the soil will become more acidic. With the already acidic sandy soil here on Bribie Island, now is the time to add some Dolomite to your soil and lawns, which will raise the pH. Also, where possible add some nourishing compost to the garden. Ten days (10) after adding the Dolomite, I would look at using a slow-release fertilizer on the garden. As most of the topsoil and fertilizer (used recently in the gardens) will now be at Luggage Point!

When we have rain, like we have had recently, I like to spray all the plants in the nursery with a mix of Mancozeb and a little liquid fertilizer, e.g., Charlie Carp or Triple Boost, which helps protect the plants against fungal diseases.

HIPPEASTRUMS

As I spoke recently about bulbs coming into stores, I thought I would give a few tips on these lovely Spring flowering bulbs. The stems are hollow, with usually four large beautifully shaped flowers like a trumpet. Hippeastrums are easily grown in full sun or part shade, planted in the garden or in pots and are available in all the colours of the rainbow. As this plant is dormant in Winter, there is no need to fertilise. Remember that they hate wet feet which causes the Bulbs to rot.

There is a timetable for looking after the Hippeastrums, so I have listed it below:

MAY, JUNE JULY

Some may keep their leaves; however, most will become dormant, going into a slow grow

period at this time of the year. As we don’t want to stimulate growth, we don’t need to

fertilise.

AUGUST

Time to use a slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote Total, which can be used for both

gardens and pots. Maybe add some Sulphate of Potash and start watering once a week.

SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER

As the Bulbs will start to flower, best to apply Snail Bait as these little pests love the new

flower buds. Re-apply the Sulphate of Potash and water twice a week.

NOVEMBER & DECEMBER

You should have lovely green foliage. Ensure you are watering, either once or twice a

week. Re-apply the slow-release fertilizer - Osmocote Total.

JANUARY, FEBRUARY, MARCH & APRIL

You should separate your clumps every 3 to 4 years. In the months mentioned you should lift and divide, removing damaged foliage.

FERNS – SHADE AND INDOORS

Who would like some ferns in a natural bushland setting? How about adding a bit of colour like Impatiens?

POSITION

Outdoors, ferns need protection from strong wind. Indoors, they need to be protected from draughts. Indoor ferns grow best in bright, indirect light, defined as a position, where a hand with fingers spread, held about 25cm above a coloured card, will throw a distinct shadow. A few, like Holly, Boston or the Nephrolepis fern will grow in moderate to poor light, but the fronds will become much longer, more pendulous, and weaker – though still quite attractive.

Most ferns, apart from the more delicate Maidenhairs, will grow happily in a shade-house. These ferns should be re-potted each year until they are in the largest size container they can handle. Hen and Chicken ferns, Nephrolepis and Pteris are all good in this situation. Stag and Elkhorn ferns can be grown in a shade-house or where they will get protection from the hot midday sun. They can also be attached to the bark of a tree or any piece of brickwork or timber.

Ferns in hanging baskets can dry out, as they are exposed to more air movement than a container on the ground. Buying a good potting mix with peat moss, like the Searles Platinum, will be helpful.

Tree ferns combine bold and beautiful form with lacy green softness and compliment any type of landscape. They form a canopy to protect softer, smaller species and can also be grown in containers. Like most ferns, do not let them dry out and when grown in pots they will require more water.

Do not plant ferns in soil that has recently been treated with Lime.

Do not let ferns dry out between waterings. It is a good idea to keep the soil surface damp at all times, which will involve watering daily, but avoid over-soggy soil.

Ferns prefer a moderately humid position, not over-moist. Low humidity results in brownish edges to the foliage and a dry lustreless appearance. The best way to create and retain humidity is to place pots on trays with water in the base with a good thickness of stones to keep the pots just above the water. On hot days you can mist your plant with water. Draughts will carry off the moisture you have formed around your plants. Like with humans, draughts can also have a drying effect and chill the plants or roots in wet soil.

If ferns need dividing, this is best done in late Winter or early Spring. First cut the fronds to soil level, then divide into segments, getting rid of any dead material. Note: new shoots come from the outside of the clump.

As the new growth appear, in late Winter, feed with a liquid fish fertilizer like Charlie Carp, and a slow release like Osmocote Total. Fine leaf ferns perfer these fertilizers at half strength. Sometimes there is a build-up of salt in the potting mix. Ferns, dislike this and so just before you feed them, if possible, soak the pots in a large container of water for about 5 minutes. If unable to do this, pour a few litres of clean water through the soil. If growing your ferns in the garden they will love some cow manure. Do not use chicken manure as it will burn the roots.

Happy Gardening

Jill

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