Make it a spring resolution to bring back easy-to-grow garden flowers to your garden in September. We show you what you need to do with our spring garden tips.
Get down and dirty start by preparing the soil with compost and bone meal. Follow the instructions on the back of seed packets for each type of seed. The soil should never dry out after sowing. If necessary, give a light sprinkling of water twice a day. As soon as germination is completed and the first true leaves show, you can give less water.
To make things easy we have given spring garden tips for each province.
- There’s no need to replace frost-damaged bedding begonias with new plants. Simply cut them back to remove the damaged parts and dose back to health with a water-soluble fertiliser.
- Feed and start watering the lawn regularly, and fix bare patches in the lawn with a top-dressing of fine compost or commercial lawn dressing.
- Plant charming perennials in your spring garden, like columbines, gauras, carpet geraniums, bearded iris, giant statice and sweet violets.
- Tip: The flower power of some tall-growing perennials that are dormant in winter can be increased by pinching out the main stems in spring, when they have emerged again and are about 20cm high.
- Clivias are in flower! Visit your local nursery to buy more plants to brighten up your shade garden. Don’t be tempted to divide existing plants too often as the clumps prefer to be left undisturbed for years.
- Start spraying fruit trees against fruit fly and codling moth once about 75% of the blossoms have dropped off. Spray every 10–14 days.
- Try growing asparagus — seedlings are available in punnets nowadays. Crowns will form about 12 months after sowing seed, but the wait for spear production is about three years. Provide richly composted soil, water and fertiliser in summer.
- Plant all the waterwise Mediterranean plants like rosemary, thyme, Pelargonium peltatum, olive trees, Agave geminiflora, Salvia leucantha and lavenders in anticipation of summer. All of them love dry and hot conditions and you will appreciate their good looks when other heat-tender plants look tired and wilted.
- Divide and replant Zantedeschia aethiopica (white arum lily) into boggy areas of the garden — you can never have too many of these veld beauties, which also love to grow on the southern side of the house.
- Plug into the ‘local is lekker’ vibe with the many indigenous perennials and groundcovers that flower profusely in gentle weather.
- Plant a row of young Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’. Stake their main stems well and straight and keep removing all the side growth from the bottom two thirds of the plant. As soon as a height of about 1,2m is reached you can start shaping the top growth into balls. You will soon have your own golden-yellow lollypops. Spray all conifers for the last time against Italian cypress aphids. Use a systemic insecticide.
- Plant a wisteria to climb over your pergola. They love cold climates with winter frosts, bloom in spring and will supply cool shade in summer.
- Refresh, top-up or replace pebbles and gravel around the garden. Especially between paving stones where dust and mud accumulate to spoil the effect.
- By the end of the month you can prune away the frost-damaged parts of affected plants to tidy them up and encourage new growth. Give them all a feed with a slow-release fertiliser, mulch well with a fresh layer of compost and water deeply.
- All the summer-flowering seedlings are ready for planting from now into the new year. Bedding begonias, dahlias, salvias, marigolds, New Guinea impatiens, torenias and browallias are just some of the plants coming into season.
- Tip: Combat the fungal disease so prevalent here by watering the garden early in the morning.
- With the current rapid growth, hedges, topiaries and standards will lose their shape. Do not allow this; rather clip regularly and lightly than one drastic hack now and again.
- In the veggie garden it’s time to plant seed potatoes. Plant out seedlings of tomatoes, chillies, peppers and eggplants as well as lettuces, cabbages, beetroot, spinach and chard. Sow seed of all the pumpkin family, dwarf beans, runner beans, maize and sweetcorn.
- Feed roses every four weeks, and spray weekly with a fungicide. Compost and mulch rose beds and underplant roses with annuals such as lobularia (alyssum), which don’t compete with the rose roots. Aphid problems can be solved with eco oils, strong jets of water or, in severe cases, a systemic root drench, which avoids the need for spraying.
- Annuals to plant now include petunias, dianthus, begonias and portulaca.
- Azaleas and camellias must be exhausted from blooming through winter and spring, so feed them every four weeks with an acidic plant food and mulch with bark chips.
Good garden practice:
- Plant insect- and bird-attracting plants, so that they don’t depend on being fed with nectar and seed feeders. Keep up with weeding from early in the season, as one year’s seeds can quickly become seven year’s weeds.
- Mulching will help to suppress weed growth.
- Plant fruiting crops in your vegetable patch, such as, tomatoes, aubergine and peppers, and tropical fruits like bananas and pawpaws.
- Take cuttings of our favourite foliage plants, like acalypha and crotons. Also clean out stale water from the urns of bromeliads, and remove some of the suckers to plant elsewhere to start a new patch of these beauties.
- In the veggie garden, plant out young plants of all the different basil types. Also sow sweet basil and coriander seed regularly. Prune back any aggressive herbs and fertilise the entire herb garden. Plant young citrus and sub-tropical fruit trees like avocados, mangoes and litchis. Stake them after planting and protect them from sunburn with temporary shade structure over the young tree.
- Make softwood cuttings of herbaceous shrubs like lavender, daisy bushes, fuchsia, pelargoniums and summer herbs.
- Plant some of the colourful arum lilies now in pots to brighten up your patio. There are lots of summer-flowering bulbs like amaryllis, eucomis, galtonia, gladioli, zephyranthes, liliums and dahlias that can be planted too.