Conifers are a great addition to any South African garden – they’re waterwise, drought tolerant and cope well with frost. They also have non-invasive root systems, so they can be planted next to walls or swimming pools without the fear that they will lift paving stones or walls.
Conifers are available in a wide variety of shapes, ranging from tall upright ‘skyrocket’ varieties to types that grow in column and ball shapes, and even creeping ground cover types. Colours range from dark green to lime yellow, gold and silver and their foliage looks at its best during the heart of winter.
Here’s how to get the most out of these versatile plants :
- Plant conifers in medium to well-drained soil.
- Choose a sunny spot in the garden, although dark green and silver varieties will cope with dappled shade.
- Fertilise your conifer monthly with liquid fertiliser.
- Treat your conifer fortnightly between March and August with an insecticide such as Metasystox (this can be sprayed on or watered in at the base of the plant) to ward off cypress aphids. An infestation of cypress aphids causes dead and brown patches in your plant. If the plant is not treated, it will eventually die.
- Conifers like being pruned regularly. Cut off growth from the top if they get too tall and prune the sides when necessary.
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