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Wise to water in cool conditions

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Winter has arrived, although during May it felt like it already had, and gardens have been getting more attention than usual as we have been avoiding the virus, complying with the government and health departments warnings.

As the soil temperatures become colder, plant growth does slow down, but winter is an ideal time to complete reconstruction of new gardens, correction of drainage problems, highlighted by recent rains.

Don’t be deceived now the weather is cooler into thinking it isn’t necessary to water – it is wise to water in the morning to give soils a chance to warm up before night.

Remember potted plants which are undercover don’t get rain and, if establishing new plants, they will require a daily drink.

Now to pruning. Please don’t be tempted to prune roses during June – they may be looking untidy but resist until next month; just apply a handful of dolomite to sweeten the soil. Most trees and shrubs will object to being pruned during winter, particularly areas subjected to frost.

Abelia, pumbago and grapes, both fruiting and ornamental could be pruned now. If pruning spring flowering trees at this time, take care not to cut out wood that will bloom in spring.

Tropical plants should not be pruned during winter as the cold will burn them. Sasanqua camellias are still flowering – they are wonderful as a specimen, for espaliering and for screening along a narrow driveway.  

Once they have finished flowering, they can be pruned into a dense hedge and fertilised with cow manure to encourage new growth. Don’t forget to disbud Japonica camellias, which will begin to bloom during June.

This process is to encourage better flowers and to give buds space to open.

Once spring bulbs begin to emerge, remember to fertilise to encourage better flowers. Pansies will begin to bloom through winter – apply Flourish weekly to encourage growth and flowering.

It is now time to assess watering of houseplants – there are some varieties, such as the ficus family, that don’t like too much water during winter, whereas others, such as ferns, particularly in heated rooms, will require misting to prevent evaporation.

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