Marching into autumn

Plectranthus ecklonii or large spur flower.

Plectranthus ecklonii or large spur flower.

Published Mar 18, 2023


Chris Dalzell

I have just spent the past week hiking in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve in the Western Cape, enjoying the splendours of the Cape floral kingdom.

March brings out the best of the fynbos flora. Erica is in full flower as are many of the restios and bulbs that grow in the Cape. A very famous bulb called Amaryllis belladonna or the March Lily flowers in March, and can be found in many of the natural areas and gardens throughout the Cape region.

Returning to Durban and having experienced the past few months of flowering trees, we now prepare for the cooler autumn months. We are so blessed in Durban in having a subtropical climate that allows most plants to thrive in our ideal growing conditions.

Lots of rain this past summer ignited the explosion of growth of our gardens. Many of our gardens, including mine, have grown out of control and now is the time to prune many of our trees, shrubs, and some groundcovers.

Pruning is one of the most important aspects of gardening that many of us neglect, which in time can affect the health and aesthetics of our plants. If you allow a tree or shrub to grow too big, this quite often may lead to its death if pruned too hard. Pruning needs to be practised at least once a year for all shrubs and sometimes twice a year to ensure healthy growth.

Make sure you know when shrubs flower as you don’t want to prune a shrub just before it flowers.

Plumbago auriculata or blue Plumbago needs pruning in March.

Here are a few ideas of what to do when preparing your plants for pruning plus all the reasons why pruning is important.

  • Repairing damaged plants:
  • Reducing the size of the plant:
  • To direct and control growth:
  • Special effects:
  • Transplanting trees and shrubs:
  • Improve the flower/fruiting/foliage quality:
Karomia speciosa or southern Chinese hats will have finished flowering and should be cut back by half.

Factors influencing pruning

  • Position of cut:
  • Sanitation:
  • Light:
  • Air movement:
  • Level of nutrients:
  • Temperature:
Tecoma capensis or Cape honey suckle should only be pruned after it flowers in early winter.

Plants that need pruning in autumn

  • Karomia speciosa (southern Chinese hats):
  • Plectranthus ecklonii (large spur flower):
  • Tecoma capensis (Cape honey suckle):
  • Plumbago auriculata (blue Plumbago):
  • Bauhinia galpinii (Pride of De Kaap):
Bauhinia galpinii or Pride of De Kaap requires regular pruning annually.

Things to do this month

  • Mulching:
  • Repotting indoor plants:
  • Lawns:
  • Weeds:
  • Pests:

Happy gardening.

  • This article is sponsored by Chris Dalzell Landscapes, specialising in landscaping, consultation, plant broking and Botanical tours. Contact [email protected]

The Independent on Saturday