Weekend Witness - - Leisure - TANYA VISSER

IT’S a myth that all aloes flower only once a year, are dis­ease rid­den and only be­long in the veld or large gar­dens.

If you choose su­pe­rior hy­brids with a dwarf growth habit and at­trac­tive and healthy fo­liage (which most have), you can plant a whole col­lec­tion of re­peat-flow­er­ing and very de­light­ful bird and but­ter­fly at­tract­ing aloes in your small gar­den or in pots.

Some are very cold and frost tol­er­ant, and there’s a way to pro­tect those that aren’t — sim­ply use frost cov­er­ing to keep them safe. The only thing you need to do is plant them in full sun, and don’t over wa­ter them as aloes are wa­ter-wise.

Scale in­sects — tan or brown oval in­sects with a hard shell — can some­times in­fect the stems and un­der­sides of the leaves of in­door plants.

The best way to curb scale at­tacks is to keep your plants clean from dust, in a hu­mid at­mos­phere and in optimal health.

If you no­tice the pres­ence of th­ese pests, re­move them by wip­ing them off the leaves and stems with a damp pa­per towel or cloth dipped in a lit­tle dish­wash­ing liq­uid.

Sow some wild grass seed some­where in your gar­den to en­cour­age birds in win­ter. Th­ese seed mixes are avail­able in seed pack­ets at most out­lets sell­ing flower and veg­etable seed.

In the win­ter rain­fall re­gions, clean up gut­ters, down­pipes and drainage chan­nels, right down to the stormwa­ter drains in the street in front of your house, to pre­vent flood­ing.

As soon as dahlias have died down com­pletely, they can be lifted, cleaned up, dusted with a fungi­cide pow­der and stored. FEED TH­ESE • Spring-flow­er­ing bulbs should be up now. Wa­ter them well and start feed­ing with bulb food. • Sweet peas ev­ery fort­night. • Pan­sies that are not grow­ing all that well, with a trace el­e­ment mix­ture like Trelmix or Sea­gro.

Fall­ing leaves can clog up ponds. They sink to the bot­tom, de­com­pose and cause harm­ful by-prod­ucts.

Re­move them from the pond, and to pre­vent them from fall­ing in the wa­ter you can place fine mesh net­ting across the top and se­cure the edges with bricks.

Helle­bores, those old stal­warts in cold gar­dens, will be sprout­ing new fo­liage so you can re­move the old, tatty leaves and give them a fresh layer of com­post. They will soon be in flower.

Happy gar­den­ing! • For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.the­gar­dener. or www.tanyavisse­

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