It’s summertime and life is, or should be a garden in bloom! Spend time this month to keep on feeding fast-growing plants and lawns, and adding lots of summer colour to your garden beds. Make it a priority to pretty up your entertainment area or patio with containers filled with beautiful specimens and flowering plants.
•Marigolds are surely the most cheerful and easy to grow summer annuals. They love heat and full sun and do not require a lot of water. Fertilise them monthly to induce a mass of blooms.
Use dwarf French Marigold varieties as companion plants in herb and veggie gardens to add colour to the foliage and to fend off bugs.
Other annual seedlings to look at adding.
Shade lovers : New Guinea Impatiens, Beacon Impatiens and Begonias for shade, also Sunpatiens.
Sun lovers : Vincas, Dianthus, Petunias, Salvias, Zinnias, Gazanias, Gypsophila, Alyssum, Celosia, Calibrachoa, Verbena and Portulaca for sun.
Plant more of the all-time favourites like Lavenders, Cupheas, Gauras, Angelonias, Agapanthus and Alstroemerias (Inca lilies) – especially the dwarf and extremely prolific hybrids of the latter, which are perfect for container-growing too.
Dahlia tubers should go to ground now, for late-summer and autumn display.
•Going to the coast? Weed all of your beds, feed them with a general fertiliser, water well afterwards and then add mulch – this will keep your garden ticking over until you return. Also check that your irrigation system is working perfectly and covering all of your garden areas.
•Beware the lily borer (a black caterpillar with yellow bands), which bores into the hearts of clivias, agapanthus and arum lilies. Signs of activity are decaying leaves and dying plants. Treat early or preventively with a registered insecticide containing cypermethrin.
-Spray fruit trees when the fruit is still small and green to prevent damage by fruit flies. Treat the kids to something other than the traditional radishes and spinach by planting watermelons, sweet melons and sweet corn for a change.
-All pumpkin types are sown in November, but you can also sow seeds of French beans, climbing beans, mealies, sweetcorn, cucumbers, and melons in situ.
-Plant seedlings of sweet peppers, chillies and tomatoes and remember to do follow-up planting of favourite cooking herbs such as sweet basil, coriander and parsley.
-Keep leafy veggies like salad and spinach healthy with frequent feeding and watering to strengthen them against pests. Use lots of companion plants such as rosemary and chives in the veggie garden as they can help to repel pests.
-Fruiting plants like blueberries, gooseberries and raspberries will be readily available. Plant them in containers or in the veggie garden, feed with a slow release fertiliser and water regularly.
•Semi-shade and acid loving plants like Hydrangeas, Gardenias, Fuchsias and Plectranthus should be at their best now. If not, feed the plants with an acidic foliar feed and mulch around the base with bark chips. Remember to check out the garden centres for new Hydrangeas which should be in flower or bud now – the best time to choose the colours you want!
•Looking for a shrub with bright foliage? Choose Duranta ‘Sheena’s Gold’. Use it as a bright contrast plant in mixed shrubbery, as a formal hedge, or pruned into topiary shapes in containers.
•Plant out new basil plants to get a crop going and also sow seeds of it too, to ensure an abundance of fresh and aromatic leaves. Remove all flower buds to ensure good quality foliage and do not allow them to set seed.
Also plant some of the pretty perennial basil hybrids that should be allowed to flower, as their blooms are quite pretty. They combine well with other garden favourites like Gaura ‘Belezza’, ornamental grasses and perennial Salvias in a pretty meadow-like border.
Pamper your lawn by feeding it with lawn fertiliser and water well before and afterwards. Maintenance includes regular mowing, taking care not to remove too much of the leaf blades. Continue to use selective herbicides to treat persistent patches of broad-leaf weeds if necessary.
If your gravel garden looks a bit worse for wear, top up the gravel with a fresh load of stone after you have weeded the area first. Use different grades of stone, as well as smooth pebbles to create interesting floor patterns with different textures and in different designs, such as spirals.
Elegant containers are not only strong design features or focal elements in any garden, but also give those with very limited planting space a chance to garden in over-drive. Remember, the road to success relies on a top quality soil medium for plants to grow in. Do not dig it up from the yard to save a few bucks! Rather use commercial potting soil which is free of weeds and soil pathogens included. So, if you are going for some container gardening, stock up on bags of potting medium, drainage chip, decorative mulches, slow releasers and water soluble fertiliser to keep your plants in top shape afterwards.