Key to plant survival this December


Here we are in the first week of December when Christmas takes precedence over garden care, but perhaps not so much this year as gardens are suffering from lack of water and some plants are even absorbing the smoke haze causing discoloration of leaves.

The key words to plant survival are mulch, water crystals, Saturaid and peat moss around the roots of azaleas and camellias.

I find sugar cane mulch ideal for my garden as it breaks down it adds nitrogen to the soil but, doing Garden Talkback this week on 2NURFM, I did have an interesting call from one listener which I feel I should pass on to any readers adjoining bushland.

He suggested, from experience, that living in that situation if a fire occurs and embers are blown into mulch, this can stimulate a fire. He felt it is safer under these conditions that garden beds aren’t mulched close to the house – perhaps if gardens have been created near your home it would be wise to dig in Saturaid or water crystals to hold moisture in the soil, which is necessary until regular rain fall occurs.

This brings me to holidaymakers – don’t leave for weeks without preparing. That is asking family, friends or neighbours to water anything precious.

Don’t worry about the lawn as it will soon shoot again when being watered every three days, but pots and hanging plants should be grouped in a shaded area and it will help retain moisture if you mulch with sphagnum moss or peat – having hoses nearby will encourage their help.

Now to those lucky gardeners who are staying home and not battling the holidays crowds – there is plenty of work to do as summer pests will be out with a vengeance; if the dry conditions continue lawn pests will have a ball.

This season gardenias are flowering beautifully considering the lack of water, which often causes yellow leaves – after flowering has finished fertilise with cow manure to encourage new growth.  Apply on a cooler day and water well. If gardenias are being grown as potted plants feed with Organic Life and top up the surface with peat moss.

Preparation of garden beds for Christmas should have been completed weeks ago, if you missed the boat, quickly plant some advanced petunias and fertilise with Flourish which can be applied each week.

Now to the living Christmas tree. Last weekend I had toddlers coming in with mum and dad to secure a live tree to grow each year with their little one.  They do need a little care; position it on a saucer so it can be watered each week, possibly near a window where it can get fresh air and, after Christmas, please don’t plunge it straight out into the full sun.

More hints on this later in December.

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