This week 29 Dec 2006

  • It is time for cuttings. Some plants root much more easily than others (camellias and rhododendrons are difficult without a propagation set up). But perennials, fuchsias, hydrangeas and vireyas are very easy. Find new season’s growth which has just hardened (in other words it does not snap easily when you bend it). Make a clean angled cut across the base, take a sliver off the outside of the stem for a couple of centimetres (two sides for vireyas), cut the leaves in half with a pair of scissors (it prevents excessive drying out) and stick in a pot filled with a free draining potting mix. Place in the shade and water gently on a regular basis. Rooting hormone will help but is not absolutely necessary for easy cuttings. Handle rooting hormones with care and make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • If you have an accident with spray at any time and get it on your skin, wash it off with copious amounts of cold water. Hot water opens the pores of the skin and increases the risk of absorbing the chemicals. So remember the cold water rule.
  • You can still sow seed of practically everything in the flowering line from ageratum to marigolds to zinnias to give you late summer and autumn colour.
  • Otherwise it is a maintenance time in the ornamental gardens – deadheading, weeding, staking but it is not likely that watering will be required.
  • Summer feed roses. In case you haven’t noticed, roses have pathetic little root systems considering the terrific amount of seasonal growth and the mass display they put on so a bit of feeding assistance helps them. If you are into spraying roses, they will almost certainly need a dose of Shield now.
  • You can still sow most plants from seed in the vegetable garden, from beans to tomatoes. The tomatoes will develop and crop through the autumn and into winter in mild areas. Keep successional plantings of sweetcorn going. Corn is another vegetable that is infinitely superior picked from your own garden – all the sugars have not turned to starch and it is sweeter and more tender than cobs picked days before for market.
  • It is the important time to spray citrus trees with copper and to fertilise if you haven’t done so already. Copper prevents all sorts of nasties on citrus trees.
  • Powdery mildew is the dominant disease at the moment on tamarillos, citrus, apples, even clematis. If you have to spray, there are several sprays which are the equivalent of Bravo and Topsin mixed – Taratek (a Taranaki product) or Greenguard are two to look for.