With summer on the way, it’s time to get your garden ready for vibrant florals and bursts of colour. It’s also wise to prepare your garden for the summer heat. Here are some useful tips to focus on in October:
SPOTLIGHT ON: ROSES
October is one of the best months for roses: after pruning in July and rain in the winter months, roses produce some of their best blooms at the very start of summer while the weather is still mild and the soil still moist. Get the best from your roses with these helpful hints:
Before you plant:
- Decide which roses are going to work best for you: if you’re looking for the hassle-free kind, try floribundas or groundcovers; both are fairly disease-resistant and require little pruning.
- Before planting, place your new roses in their bags in the positions which you have planned for them in the garden. You can then see which colour combinations work and whether they will receive enough light. Keep them well-watered as the bags dry out quickly.
- Another useful planning tool is to check the labels on the plants to see what the final height of the bushes will be – this makes it easier to decide on where to position them in the bed.
When you plant:
- If you are planting in containers, make sure they have a diameter of at least 35cm and add plenty of moisture-retaining granules to the potting soil.
- Plant your roses at the same depth as they were in the black bag you bought them in.
- Feed each rose bush with half a cup of 8:1:5. Sprinkle it at the roots and water it in well.
- Water roses twice a week: a rose bush needs at least 10 litres of water twice weekly in very warm weather.
- Cover the soil surrounding your roses with a 10cm layer of mulch, like bark chips, to conserve moisture in the soil.
Good to know:
- Feed roses once a month with 8:1:5, and water well after feeding.
- Spray roses once every two weeks with an organic insecticide to ward off aphids, red spider mite, beetles and thrips. You can tackle minor infestations simply by spraying the plant with a strong jet of water.
- Once flowers start to fade, it’s best to cut them from the bush. Make sure you cut them with at least three sets of leaves, and the cut back stem is at least pencil thickness so that it can support new shoots.
- Try not to dig around the roots of a rose bush – roses hate having their roots disturbed.
ON YOUR TO-DO LIST FOR OCTOBER
Plant and Sow:
- Plant: summer-flowering bulbs like gladiolus, galtonia, amaryllis, tuberose and dahlia.
- Sow: seeds of candytuft, alyssum, Californian poppy, cornflower, cosmos, dianthus, phlox, verbena, zinnia, marigold, cineraria, lavatera and lobelia.
- Vegetables: beetroot, broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumber, eggplants, lettuce, parsnips, pumpkins, radish, peppers, tomatoes, spinach and Swiss chard.
- Lawn: Plant new lawns in the form of lawn runners or lawn seeds.
- Aquatic plants: Lift and divide aquatic plants such as water lilies. Replant the new sections in containers with fresh potting soil, covered with a layer of stone chips to keep the water clean.
- Give indoor and outdoor container plants extra sustenance with a liquid fertiliser like MultiFeed or Seagro.
- Nourish fuchsias, other spring annuals and bulbs every two weeks with a high potash fertiliser like 3:1:5.
- New lawns should be fed with 2:3:2 to promote strong root growth, while established lawns can be fed with 4:1:1 (a handful per square metre.)
- Feed apricots, peaches, plums and quinces with 3:1:5.
- Summer flowering bulbs require bulb food and lots of water.
Prune and trim:
- Tidy up hibiscus, bottlebrush, proteas, tea bushes, butterfly bush, poinsettia, confetti bush, potato bush, plumbago and conifer.
- Cut back flowering apricots, peaches, plums and quinces to encourage stockier, sturdier growth and enhance light exposure.
- Dead-head pansies and violas regularly to keep them flowering for longer.
- Remove faded flowers from spring annuals and bulbs.
- Raise the mower blades when mowing your lawn, as longer grass will help to keep the roots cool in the hot months ahead.
OTHER FRESH IDEAS
In preparation for the hottest summer months, think seriously about planting hardy, heat-loving plants. This doesn’t mean you have to compromise on colour – hardy summer survivors like Gazanias and Pelargoniums, Vinca and Portaluca bear flowers in a range of bright hues.
Herb of the month: Rocket
Spice up your summer salads with your own, home-grown rocket. Its seeds germinate quickly and easily in summer so it’s worth sewing a new crop every three weeks for constant supply. Good to know: rocket leaves are a rich source of iron, chlorophyll and vitamins.
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