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Tropic wonder


Could we call this month tropical or just plain hot? I haven’t felt that it has been as humid as a normal summer.
I have noticed plants in my garden burning, despite being watered. I think it is so hot and lacking in moisture that it’s making broad-leaved plants susceptible.   
Although it isn’t wise to plant during the heat of January, it is an interesting time to plan a tropical garden as there are many plants available to create this effect.
A frangipani can be used as a centrepiece and underplant with colourful gingers and cordylines.
Adding many varying crotons will inject brightness, then border the bed with Alternanthera “Little Ruby” which is burgundy coloured and the border will unify the variety of plants and colours.
Once shade has been created by the frangipani, orange and yellow clivias will produce a great display in spring.
If your garden is large, there is plenty of scope to plant umbrella trees, elephant’s ears and strelitzia.
Again, once shade is developed, tree ferns and even peace lillies will be happy.
A tropical garden wouldn’t be complete without a Bougainvillea, but remember, space is needed and take care when planting as they often don’t have well developed root system.
Make sure the soil adheres to the root ball as you take it out of the pot.
It wouldn’t be a tropical garden without hibiscus, which are extremely easy to grow.
However, they do like to be fertilised with cow manure regularly to prevent lack of iron and yellow leaves.
If you choose to plant out such a garden now, remember a drink a day keeps the doctor away!

This week

  • Watch for leaf curl on citrus trees – it attacks new growth and is now hard to control as many of the products used are no longer available. An Ecofend spray and a light prune will help.
  • Tomatoes and stone fruit attacked by fruit fly should be cleaned up, bagged and binned.
  • Prune back long shoots on Golden Durantas on a cooler day.
  • Give roses a handful of Sudden Impact to boost flowering.

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