Plant parent

Grow and nurture more houseplants to brighten your home

We’re planting …the early spring flowering Verbena ‘Cadet’ that doesn’t spread like most verbena but grows upright, neat and compact. It has a good range of colours, pink, purple, red, violet and white. It grows 25cm high and 30cm wide to form a round, mounded plant that grows in sun or partial shade and is a good filler for small gardens or containers. It reblooms so quickly that the plant never seems to be without flowers. Being heat tolerant and highly mildew resistant, it stays healthy and vigorous throughout a long, hot summer. Details: ballstraathof.co.za

 

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Veggie of the month
A pink tomato, that’s sweet, yet tangy? ‘Clear Pink’ (RAW seed) is an heirloom variety that grows into a compact plant 1,2m high, that produces long trusses of round, smooth pink tomatoes. It can be started early by germinating the seed indoors in August and planting out into the garden, or in a pot, towards the end of September after the last frost. Fill the seed tray with a fine seedling mix, sow the seed and water gently. Cover the seed tray with plastic cling wrap and place it on a heating pad (from a vet shop for reptiles or a hot tray set on low). Once the tomatoes have germinated, remove the cling wrap. To water, take the seed tray off the heat and let it drain before putting it back on the heat. A weekly application of Margaret Roberts Organic Supercharger, which contains both macro and micronutrients will encourage strong growth. Harden the young seedlings by putting the seed tray outside in the sun during the day but bring it indoors at night. Details: rawliving.co.za

Indoor plant of the month
String of bananas (Curio radicans) is a trailing succulent with green banana-shaped leaves. Like other string plants (string of pearls, string of dolphins, string of turtles) its high on novelty value, requires minimal care and is indigenous with small white flowers that appear in spring. It grows best in a hanging basket that receives plenty of bright, indirect light, for instance near a sunny window indoors. Only water when the soil is dry. For a fuller plant and to encourage new strings, snips off an existing string half-way down and new stems will emerge from the cut. Details: lvgplant.co.za

You’ve just bought a new house plant. And you have no idea how to care for it. Bright light or shade. Dry out or always moist. Pet and child friendly or keep out of reach. The Unkillables is Jo Lambell’s jolly handy book featuring her top 40 resilient houseplants for new plant parents. From finding your plant soulmate to really clever tips for each of the plants featured, it’s a great addition to a gardener’s library. Wellbeck Publishing, R270

Garden tasks for August
• Water more often as is gets warmer and feed spring flowering annuals with a liquid fertiliser every two weeks. • Fertilise perennial flowers and shrubs with 3:1:5 fertiliser and water well afterwards • Towards the end of August, start sowing summer annuals like alyssum, dianthus, California poppies, marigolds, verbena and zinnias. • Add compost to the flower beds and top dress lawns that need to be levelled. • Trim and tidy up groundcovers, cutting them back to get rid of any stalky growth. • Keep on watering and feeding winter veggies. • Be on the lookout for snails and use an organic snail bait if possible. Control aphids with organic insecticides.

Text: ALICE COETZEE

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