We’re planting …cool blue flowers tough enough to take the heat, crunchy radishes for festive salads, and sunflowers for the kids.
Garden toughie, Scaevola Bondi™ Blue takes the heat but keeps its cool, lavender-blue flowers looking fresh throughout summer. Also known as fan flower, it grows best in full sun to partial shade and does well in hot, dry summers. It is a neat garden flower (20cm and 40cm wide) that’s good for edgings, rockeries, and as a ground cover or in hanging baskets and containers. If planted around the edge of a container, it will trail over the edge. Water deeply once a week and don’t over-water. Plants don’t like soggy soil. Snipping off the dead flowers encourages it to flower even more.
Indoor plant of the month: Do you know how hydrangeas got the name of ‘Christmas roses’? Quite simply it is because they flower in December in South Africa. Over Christmas they are also sold as indoor plants, standing in as a long-lasting flower arrangement. ‘All Season’s’ hydrangea is a single head hydrangea that produces a long-lasting spectacular bloom in pink or white. The normal multi-flower pink or blue flowering hydrangeas are also available as indoor plants.
Grown indoors hydrangeas like four hours of bright indirect light a day. The flowers last longer if the plant is kept cool. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Use lime-free water if possible. After flowering the plant can be cut back and planted in the garden.
Veggie of the month – radishes
Easy to sow, quick to grow and crunchy to eat, radishes sown at the beginning of December will be harvest-ready for festive salads and skewers over the holiday season. Radish ‘Sparkler’ (scarlet with white tip) and ‘Cherry Belle’ are easily available picture packet varieties from Kirchhoffs.
- Sow radishes directly into the soil, that’s been enriched with compost. Radishes also grow well in containers, with good quality potting soil.
- Keep the soil moist during germination within five to seven days.
- Sow thickly and use the thinned out small leaves in salad.
- Water regularly because radishes need to grow quickly if they are to be plump and crunchy. Uneven or irregular watering can cause radishes to split.
Try this: Combine radishes with baby marrows, sweet peppers, and chunks of fresh pineapple, or kiwi fruit on skewers. Splash over a chilli-based dressing for a kick and decorate with herbs from the garden as well.
Garden tasks for December
- Sow sunflowers with the kids. The seeds are big so they are easy to work with and they can be sown directly into the soil.
- Water deeply and regularly, cut off dead flowers and give annuals a weekly drench of liquid fertiliser to keep everything fresh and blooming for Christmas.
- Water the lawn once a week but don’t fertilise if you are going away.
- Water containers and hanging baskets once a day and feed with a diluted liquid fertiliser once a week for lush growth and lots of flowers.
- In most areas, except the Lowveld and KwaZulu Natal coast, you can sow tomatoes, beans, carrots, spinach, and cabbage (in cooler areas).
* Compiled by Alice Coetzee