THINGS TO DO THIS MONTH
REMOVE all dead and dying parts of the plants. Infected plants can spread infection to other plants so best remove these plants. If the plants are infested with insects, then either remove and dispose of that part of the plant or use a natural insecticide to spray them. Well grown, healthy plants generally won’t be attacked by pests. Only weak and neglected plants get attacked by disease or insects.
Many bulbs and underground rhizomes will be emerging from their winter dormancy and will require encouragement to grow to maturity. The blood lily, Scadoxus puniceus, has all but finished for the season and will now be going to seed. This plant invites all the seed eating birds to feed on the fruits who then act as carriers for this seed to other parts of your garden and other gardens. Protect these bulbs and any other underground growing point by mulching, composting, fertilising and watering.
Plant lots of indigenous grasses, the new “in” plant in landscaping. They are easy to grow, look good, need very little attention and bring lots of birds to the garden. Examples are: Aristida junciformis (Gongoni grass); Themeda triandra (Red Grass); Eragrostis curvula (weeping lovegrass); Digitaria eriantha (Digit grass), and Melinis repens (Natal Redtop). Each of these grasses has their own character and if planted correctly will complement each other. You can mix and match these grasses to get the different textures of each of the grasses.
Encourage birds and butterflies by planting those plants that attract them. Grasses, milkweeds and some of the Citrus family trees like Vepris lanceolata or the African Dog Rose, Xylotheca kraussiana which is the food plant for the Red Acraea butterfly are good examples of plants that are readily available and will provide food plants and life for your garden.
Repot all indoor plants. Remove the plants from the pot, remove as much of the old soil from the roots and wash the roots with clean running water. If there are any old, dead or dying leaves remove them because they can cause fungal problems and the death of your prized plant. Buy new potting soil, add some compost and fertiliser and replant these plants, ensuring they are not planted too deep. Make sure you also put the plant in the right size pot and always plant in the centre of the pot. Add slow release fertiliser, such as osmocote, to the potting medium which will release small amounts of nutrients every time you water the plant. Take indoor plants outside every 2 weeks and give them a good soak with water to rejuvenate them. Ensure you do not over water the plant because too much water will rot the roots.
GOING TO SEED: The blood lily, Scadoxus puniceus, has all but finished for the season.