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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Spring promises a burst of colour

Okay readers, I am a little early to write the August job column, but the arrival of August means spring is only four weeks away and, this year, after cold and heavy coastal rains, we will all be looking forward to a burst of colour, which is already happening.

Have you noticed the deciduous magnolias in full bloom? Magnolia soulangeana bears the large pink and white tulip-shaped flowers, which look fabulous until strong winds cause the flowers to fall.

It is amazing how plants know the soil is beginning to warm deep down, which encourages blossoms and new leaves to begin budding during August, ready for spring.

I won’t be surprised, however, if winter conditions last a little longer, so there is still plenty of time to complete those winter jobs, particularly pruning – remember, though, not to prune spring flowering trees and shrubs until after they flower.

Other August jobs include deadheading camellias, azaleas, daffodils and other bulbs as they finish flowering.

Probably one of the most important jobs in early August is to complete rose pruning and fertilising – if you haven’t yet pruned and are waiting for the last frosts, I think the rain has kept the frost away this year and it is safe to now prune.

I am about to prune my bed of standard ‘Ellenas’, then spray with Lime Sulphur and fertilise each rose with a full bucketful of poultry manure.

Yes, a full bucket – one bag will probably be enough for three roses.

Don’t use a pelleted product as it will release slowly. Then, three weeks later, give each rose a handful of rose food.

Thereafter, we will continue a monthly feed such as Sudden Impact, dolomite, sulphate of potash or even blood and bone.

These hints apply to ground-grown roses.

Potted plants should be fed with Sudden Impact.

Geraniums can be tidied now, remembering it is difficult to achieve the perfection of those beautiful European window boxes because our humid climate causes fungal disease and rust.

Regular pruning and feeding will improve flowering quality.

Here’s a tip: plant in a good quality potting mix, such as Martins Premiums Mix, which contains nine months slow release fertiliser, and fertilise each week with Flourish.

It is far too early to fertilise lawns – wait until the grass is actively growing, spray the bindiis and broadleaf weeds early in the morning on a fi ne warm day, giving the chemical six hours to work.

One of the main August jobs is maintenance of citrus. Ground-grown citrus should be fed with poultry manure and citrus food out under the drip line – water the soil before and after application. Container-grown citrus should be fed with care.

Never feed with citrus food as this will cause leaf drop.

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