This month’s to-do list

Time to sow cornflowers

Time to sow cornflowers

Published Mar 9, 2024


Durban — To ensure you stay on the sassy side of autumn, be sure to tick off these simple maintenance reminders that will keep your garden looking lush.

First on the list is preparing your soil for winter and spring bulbs and annuals. As soon as temperatures cool down, dig in compost and superphosphate or bone meal at the recommended application amount (see product packaging).

Top tip: It might still be too hot to plant spring-flowering bulbs now. Instead, store them in the veggie drawer of the fridge and plant out when the weather cools down in a few weeks.

If your green fingers are itching to dig into some dirt this week, you can sow California poppies, cornflowers, godetias, bokbaai vygies (known also as Livingstone daisy), as well as Namaqualand daisies. All of these sassy blooms will thrive in full sun spots and reward the winter garden with a vibrant flush of colour.

Godetias grow quickly and should flower in just 90 days. You can enjoy their blooms in shades of lavender, pink, red, salmon, or white.

Bokbaai vygies are indigenous to South Africa and adored worldwide because of their multitude of silky-textured flowers in a flamboyant range of colours like yellow, cream, pink, lavender, magenta, and orange. An added bonus is that they attract butterflies and bees to the garden.

Namaqualand daisies will thrive in full sun spots and reward the winter garden with a vibrant flush of colour.

Speaking of helpful critters in the garden, how is your bird feeding station looking? If you haven’t already made or bought a bird feeder, establish one now in the garden to familiarise the birds with your garden as a food stop. When winter arrives, birds may depend on you for extra food as resources become scarce. Remember to add a birdbath with fresh water where your feathered friends can stop for a drink or splash.

Tidy up any dead leaves on hellebores and mulch around plant bases well to encourage a glorious winter display. Divide strelitzias if there is overcrowding and transplant into other areas of the garden or gift to a loved one. If you have any evergreens or conifers planted in the wrong place, this month is your chance to relocate them. Also start lifting and dividing overgrown perennials like daylilies, dietes, and liriopes. Cut back spent heliconia and cannas and cover root areas with a mulch of compost or kraal manure.

Feed palms with a general fertiliser and water well. Also in need of deep watering are camellias and azaleas. These plants will sadly drop their buds in dry spells, resulting in few or no flowers.

Top pest tip: put snail bait under the foliage of perennials as snails will start looking for places to hibernate for winter.

Independent on Saturday