Set the mood in your garden with gorgeous blooms
HEART AND SOUL
It may be a bit cheesy but we don’t care … after all, who can resist hearts during Valentine’s Month? Look carefully at the new ‘Heart and Soul’ petunia and you will see the pretty hearts on the petals.
Clever! This novelty petunia produces lots of large single flowers on a nicely compact and bushy plant. To bring out the hearts, plant it in full sun, in soil that drains well and give it the tender loving care of fertiliser once a month. It’s also a great option for hanging baskets and containers. Details: ballstraathof.co.za
INDOOR PLANT OF THE MONTH
Roses are always a winner during Valentine’s Month, and for long-lasting blooms, pot roses are the best. Choose one with a good selection of buds in addition to the open flowers. There are so many colours that it is easy to give your loved one their favourite. And let’s face it, there is nothing more appealing than a perfect rose bloom in miniature. Pot roses can be displayed in any position that receives bright light, indoors or on the patio. Remember roses love water, so keep the soil moist. After flowering, take the pot outdoors and cut back the stems to 5cm above the ground. As soon as it shoots, fertilise with a liquid feed and after two months it will flower again. It can then be taken back indoors, kept as an outdoor pot rose, or planted in the soil where it will receive at least six hours of sun a day. Details: lvgplant.co.za
VEGGIE OF THE MONTH
For those who like it hot, the range of table-top dwarf pot peppers grow happily indoors, producing mild to hot chillies. The compact plants (15 to 35cm tall) bear fruit in the pot and can be harvested when needed. Grown indoors they need bright light and medium watering; let the soil almost dry out before watering again. For good fruit production, apply a liquid fertiliser at half strength every two weeks. Plants can remain in the pot (both indoors or outdoors) or transplanted into the garden, where they need morning sun and afternoon shade. The names say it all: hot burrito (Red), hot carrot (yellow), hot fajita (red), macho (red), cosmo (purple) and the ever-popular jalapeño. Details: ballstraathof.co.za
GARDEN TASKS FOR FEBRUARY
Help plants to survive the heat by watering regularly and mulching beds to keep the soil cool. • Summer annuals looking tired? Replace them with heat-hardy marigolds, zinnia, salvia, and portulaca. • Cut back pelargoniums and trim ivy leaf varieties that have become untidy. • Water the lawn regularly and in very hot weather set the mower so that the grass is higher to shade the roots. • Delay fertilising until the end of February or early March when it is cooler. • Vegetables that get midday and afternoon sun can be protected with a 20 or 40 per cent shade cloth. This also helps to save water because they do not need watering as much. • Keep pests under control with an organic insecticide like Ludwig’s Insect Spray or Margaret Roberts Organic Insect Spray. • Keep your birdbaths filled with fresh water for the birds and butterflies.
Text: ALICE COTZEE