MUST dos in the garden this month
- Prepare the soil for planting winter and spring annuals and bulbs as soon as the temperatures start cooling. Dig in compost and superphosphate or bone meal at recommended rates.
- Go shopping for winter-and spring-flowering bulbs, but do not plant them yet, as it might still be too hot. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry and dark place.
- In frost prone areas, stop feeding plants and take slips of frost-tender plants to keep them protected from the cold.
Grow from softwood cuttings
A softwood cutting is a shoot terminal with the growing tip intact. They are mostly taken very early in the season before there is any sign of hardening in the new shoot. They can take about 4 - 8 weeks to root and herbaceous plants (those plants that die down in winter) are usually best propagated by taking 8 - 10cm softwood cuttings in Spring. They include: Chrysanthemum, Fuschia, Dahlia, Hydrangea, Impatiens, Pelargonium and geranium. However, in this how-to guide, we took softwood cuttings from lavender which is not a herbaceous plant.
- Take hardwood cuttings of quick-growing shrubs like hibiscus and hydrangeas. Dig into the how-to guide below to learn how to take a hardwood cutting.
Grow from hardwood cuttings
Hardwood cuttings are taken from deciduous trees and plants (ones that lose their leaves in winter) when they are dormant between April and October. Hardwood cuttings are taken from well-ripened wood, and growth is made directly from buds that are dormant when the cutting is taken - the buds are usually visible. Unripened cuttings of this type will not propagate successfully and the best cuttings are made from the middle wood of the long shoot. Cuttings can take anything from 5 - 12 months or longer to take root and shoot be planted out in late autumn or winter.
- Cut back faded perennials and prune mid to late summer-flowering shrubs and trees that have performed well.
- Do boast with your pumpkins, big and small! When harvesting pumpkins and squash leave a little stump of the stalk on the pumpkin.
- Continue to feed the lawn with a 3:1:5 or high potash general fertilizer.
- Deadhead annuals and perennials to encourage prolonged flowering.
- Keep the garden well-watered and feed with copious amounts of compost. Include bonemeal to promote strong root growth.
- Fertilise all container plants and hanging baskets with liquid plant food.
- Prune overgrown conifers and spray preventatively against Italian Cypress aphid infestations.
- Clean out water features before it gets too cold.
Collect and store seeds
Collecting and storing seeds gives you the opportunity to inexpensively increase the plants in your garden and allows you to delay sowing until a more suitable time when conditions are favourable for germination. By collecting and storing seeds this year, you can already look forward to your garden in the next. Follow this easy guide to show you exactly how to grow your favourite plants again, and again, and again.
- Feed roses to prepare them for a beautiful flower flush in Autumn and keep them well-watered.
- Continue to spray for fungal diseases, especially prevalent in the humid coastal areas.
- Read more about what to do in the rose garden in March in the article below.
- Cut back asparagus.
- Fertilise late-bearing fruit trees with 6:1:5 when the last fruit has been picked.
- Complete summer pruning of apricot, nectarine and peach trees.
- Fertilize tropical trees like mangoes, litchi pawpaws, avocados and bananas, and maintain a good mulch.
- Keep citrus trees well-watered as the fruits begin to swell, and maintain a layer of mulch around the tree to preserve moisture.
- Harvest mature apples and pears and give a good post-harvest feed with compost or granular fertilizer.
- Give berries a final feed as they start to ripen and change colour.
- Propagate strawberries by pegging down runners to encourage root development.
Indoor plant care
- As the days grow cooler, adjust your watering programme accordingly.
- Nearing the end of the month, pot up a few bulbs like hyacinths and grape muscari for a beautiful winter indoor display.
- Give your pot plants a last foliar feed with a liquid fertiliser.
Pests and Diseases
- Look out for red scale and orange dog caterpillars on citrus trees.
- Keep an eye out for Tip wilters on dahlias.
- Inspect the soil for Cutworms on newly planted seedlings.
- Lawn caterpillar and harvester termites can cause incredible damage to lawns so keep an eye on your lawn for signs of infestation.