Indoor plant of the month Colourful calla lilies (Zantedeschia sp) are guaranteed to brighten up a room … just what is needed as the days get cooler. The mini trumpet-shaped flowers come in a wide range of colours, standing out against the glossy, dark green leaves. Use them as table arrangements, to brighten a corner of the room or as a centrepiece on the coffee table. Display plants in a warm room with bright light; they’ll even be happy with some morning sun, but keep away from heaters or air conditioning. Water lightly to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Remove dead flowers to encourage growth. Details: lvgplants.co.za
Veggie of the month – broad beans
One of the easiest Winter crops to grow is broad beans, and it likes the cold, which encourages it to set pods.
Broad beans are sturdy upright growing plants, about 1m high, which are rarely bothered by pests or diseases. From seed sown in May you should be able to start harvesting from the end of July or early August through to late September or October.
They may be easy, but they’re heavy feeders, needing well-composted soil with additional fertiliser (2:3:2 or 3:1:5). And while they grow in all kinds of soil, they do need full sun and shelter from the wind.
Sow seeds directly into the soil where the plants are to mature, keep them moist during germination and then water regularly once the seedlings have germinated. As they grow, the plants will need to be staked.
Beans should be ready for harvesting within 12 to 16 weeks. The pods are ready for picking when they have filled out and before they burst open.
Fresh beans have a delicious earthy flavour that fits in well with Winter cooking, in stews, casseroles and soup. And being a legume, the broad bean is an excellent source of high-quality plant protein.
We’re planting …
Calibrachoa Cha-Cha Diva Hot Pink, which is exactly the kind of showstopper that the name implies. A great performer in containers, hanging baskets and in sunny raised garden beds, which, for all its star quality, is a plant that is really easy to grow and care for. Plant it in well-drained soil or good quality potting soil, water regularly (especially containers) and fertilise once or twice a month to keep up the quality of flowers. Containers and baskets do best with morning sun. Details: ballstraathof.co.za
Garden tasks for May
- There is still time to plant Spring bulbs If you have ordered tulips, plant them as soon as possible after they arrive.
- Water Winter annuals at least once a week and give them a weekly feed with a liquid fertiliser to keep them flowering.
- Train climbing sweet peas up their supports and check for aphids. Use an organic insecticide or soapy water (but not too strong a mixture).
- Trays of pansies, violas and primulas can all still be planted out.
- Pelargoniums, succulents, cacti, ferns, agapanthus, and day lilies can receive less water but don’t let camellias and azaleas dry out or their Spring flowers will be affected.
- This is a good time to plant flowering shrubs like abelia, buddleia, Cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis), Calliandra, escallonia, may (Spiraea), Mackaya bella, and viburnum.
- If you are in a frost belt, stock up on frost cloth and watch the weather report.
- Pot up some of your favourite perennial herbs and pop them in a sunny sheltered area.
- Go on a snail blitz and get rid of snails that are overwintering in old pots or among the clumps of perennials. Put out snail bait or traps to protect young seedlings.