10 must-dos this month

Con­tribut­ing gar­den­ing edi­tor Mar­i­anne Alexan­der’s handy check­list of es­sen­tial chores to do in Jan­uary

South African Garden and Home - - Garden News & Debuts -

1 Keep bed­ding plants moist by wa­ter­ing early in the morn­ing and mulching. Re­place tired plants with heat-tol­er­ant an­nu­als like zin­nias, vinca hy­brids, marigolds, co­re­op­sis, cos­mos and gaza­nias.

2 Sow seeds of win­ter and spring-flow­er­ing an­nu­als in­clud­ing prim­u­las, Ice­land pop­pies, stocks, cinerarias, Bel­lis peren­nis and vi­o­las in trays towards the end of Jan­uary in cool ar­eas. Dur­ing hot dry spells, keep them moist in a cool but light po­si­tion; pro­tect from heavy rain.

3 Neaten lawns that weren’t mown dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son by cut­ting them back grad­u­ally then keep­ing the mower on a high dur­ing the hot, dry sum­mer months. Feed with 2:3:4 or 3:1:5. Look out for lawn cater­pil­lars and mole crick­ets, which you may hear chirp­ing at night.

4 To re­pel in­sects like mosquitoes and flies, plant strong-scented plants in the gar­den or in pots near your out­door sit­ting area. These in­clude the pep­per­mints­cented Pelargo­nium to­men­to­sum, lemon-scented P. cit­ronel­lum and balm-scented

P. pan­duri­forme as well as lemon grass, rose­mary, laven­der, mint and lemon thyme. 5 Main­tain your rose-spray­ing reg­i­men to con­trol fun­gal out­breaks of mildew, black spot and rust. Give roses a mid­sum­mer prune. 6 Keep con­tainer plants well hy­drated; if the pot­ting medium has dried out, loosen the soil and wa­ter un­til bub­bles stop com­ing to the sur­face. Im­mers­ing con­tain­ers in a bucket of wa­ter works well.

7 Ap­ply a gen­er­ous 3–6cm thick mulch to bare soil be­fore the heat of sum­mer and after wa­ter­ing. Use rough com­post, bark chips or straw. Camel­lias, aza­leas, blue hy­drangeas and gar­de­nias pre­fer acid mulch.

8 Give cym­bid­ium or­chids an ap­pli­ca­tion of a low-ni­tro­gen, high-po­tash fer­tiliser to pro­mote the for­ma­tion of flower spikes. Re­peat monthly un­til the flower spikes open. Wa­ter and mist reg­u­larly in dry re­gions.

9 If prun­ing trees to let in more light, lift the canopy by tak­ing out en­tire branches rather than giv­ing the tree an all-over trim.

10 Cut back hail-dam­aged shrubs and trees to pre­vent the af­fected tis­sue from be­ing in­fected. Trim fuch­sias which have stopped flow­er­ing; boost with 3:1:5 fer­tiliser or an or­ganic equiv­a­lent. Place faded hy­drangea flow­ers un­der­neath the bushes as a mulch.

Gar­de­nia

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