Durban - When it comes to roses, a regular spraying and feeding programme is essential for quality flowers, and it is well worth the effort.
I do not know of any other plant that responds so favourably to a little care and attention than the rose.
Thirty minutes a week spent on your roses will reward you with great bunches of blooms.
Ask your nurseryman to recommend one of the rose care products that combine an insecticide with a fungicide, so that you kill two birds with one stone.
Blackspot and mildew can be a problem with the high humidity in Durban, so it is better to spray once a week, rather than every fortnight – prevention is better than cure.
If these fungus infections do appear, then a stronger spray mix is needed – read the instructions.
Roses need four things to do well: a little attention, lots of sun, lots of water, and lots of food. They flower best when they are happy – so spray and feed regularly.
Your nurseryman will be able to advise you on a suitable feeding programme. Ask for both an organic fertiliser and an inorganic fertiliser to ensure a wide range of nutrients.
There is now a long-lasting insecticide for aphids and ants that will last all year. It is systemic and gets into the juices of the plant – so is NOT to be used on edible plants.
* All kinds of daisies are in full bloom now.
South Africa is home to a huge variety of indigenous daisies. Your local nursery will have lots of these on display.
They are all easy to grow, flower for months and provide a riot of colour.
Barberton Daisies (or Gerbera jamiesonii) are old favourites, and come in red, pink, orange, yellow and white. There are even double-flowered varieties.
They all do well in rockeries and mixed borders.
Gerberas have been extensively hybridised for the cut flower and pot-plant industries.
These hybrids do not do as well in the garden, so be sure to buy the “garden” varieties.
Gazanias are also famous indigenous daisies available in many bright colours with huge flowers – some with stripes in the flower and with either green or grey leaves. They come in clump-forming or trailing varieties.
Kingfisher daisies (or Felicia) are a vivid blue with a yellow centre, and are an all-time favourite.
These are also available in bush or trailing types – there is even a variety with variegated leaves.
Euryops pectinatus is another worthy daisy. They are tall growing, very hardy and have bright yellow flowers and deep green leaves.
There are grey leaf and variegated leaf forms as well. Cape Daisies (or Osteospermum) have had a radical make-over in recent years with a plethora of multicoloured hybrids on offer. Colours range from purple through mauve to pink to white. Newer hybrids include yellow and apricot colours and shades in-between.
All the above daisies are indigenous to South Africa, but the daisy family is huge. Well-known exotic varieties include the white Shasta daisy from western US, the Michaelmas daisy in white, pink, or mauve from the eastern US, and the ever popular Marguerite daisy, originally from Madeira and the Canary Islands.
Marguerites thus do very well in coastal conditions, and are a must for every garden.
They flower profusely, with the entire plant often covered with flowers over a long time.
Modern hybrids are more dwarf and better bloomers than their parents, and come in a range of colours – from deep pink, to yellow, white and apricot, with single or double flowers.
Plant all types of daisies in full sun. They prefer a well-composted fertile soil. Good drainage is important, as is regular feeding for best results.
Use a “flowering and fruiting” type fertiliser such as 3:1:6 or 5:1:5. They are all relatively disease-free.
Remove old flowers as soon as they fade to encourage repeat flowering, and to keep plants tidy and well shaped.
* Citrus plants (oranges and lemons) will also be flowering now. Keep plants regularly watered, to prevent fruit drop, and feed with a “flowering and fruiting” fertiliser such as 3:1:6 or 5:1:5.
New leaf growth on members of the citrus family (which also includes Murraya exotica and the curry leaf tree) can be attacked by Citrus Psylla, a small insect that causes bumps or blisters and wrinkles on the leaves.
Spray the new growth with an insecticide containing dimethoate – it is systemic and gets into the juices of the plant and therefore travels to all parts of the plant.
There is a safety period to observe on edible plants, so read the instructions.
* A super selection of dahlia tubers is available now at selected outlets. These are packed in plastic sleeves with pictures.
They make a wonderful show in the garden, are good cut flowers, easy to grow, tolerate lots of sun, need regular watering, and even though they die back in winter, they last for years.
The summer range of bedding plants or flower seedlings is now on the shelves. For a blaze of colour look for allysum, lobelia or portulaca for borders, baskets or troughs. Dianthus, marigolds, petunias, torenias, salvia and zinnia are all colourful in sunny beds and rockeries.
Begonia, red salvia and torenia will grow in some shade. Remember to “dead head”, and feed regularly.
With all the rain and warm weather your lawn should be looking good. To keep it at its best apply, fertiliser every six to eight days.
The idea is to keep it actively growing, without overdoing it and having to mow like crazy.
If weeds are a problem, see your nurseryman about a suitable weedkiller. It should have at least three active ingredients so as to kill the widest range of weeds.
They are very effective and easy to apply – all you need is a sunny day and a spray bottle. - Independent on Saturday