August is the time to get ready for growing season
HAVE you noticed the change in the weather? Particularly late in the afternoon, it feels a little warmer, and to me that has always been the sign to begin preparing for spring. With plants like Grevilleas and Bottlebrushes in full bloom already I think spring has sprung.
August is always the month when you should get ready for the coming growing season, when the garden is bursting into life with colour and vitality. Most annual gardens should once again be seeing the results of careful culture of those annual flowerbeds literally bursting into colour. Annual gardeners will now need a good fertiliser, such as Q-5, around the plants. Remember to cut all spent blooms off your garden plants to increase flower production.
This is a very busy time for tub plant enthusiasts, as it is probably one of the best times of the year to start potting and repotting many of your tubbed plants. For plants around the pool, pergola, veranda and even the hanging baskets, that are starting to look a little tired after winter, this is the perfect time to plant them into a larger tub, so that you get the attractive new growth and blooms for spring.
It is also time for herbaceous perennials to be lifted, divided and replanted. This would include plants such as Agapanthus, Cannas and Spider Lillies. When replanting, make sure the raised beds are well mulched and the soil used contains at least 50% vegetable matter. Even some cow manure would help. A word of warning - when you divide Agapanthus, they may take two to three years to reach flowering maturity again. Gerbera enthusiasts will now find the green light is there to start dividing the plants to give that best summer display.
Feral plants of the gardens, such as Bougainvilleas, Hibiscus and Calliandras to name a few, can be cut back, especially if they are not flowering. Pruning of most garden plants can be commenced this month. Poinsettias can be pruned hard now, although if you would like to develop your plant into a taller screening plant, simply cut back to three buds on each plant.
For those gardeners with native plants, you should be tip pruning at every opportunity, as the dry weather should bring out spectacular flowering displays. If your native plants have become long and spindly, now is the time to be brutal and cut them back to a stump, within 300mm or one foot from the ground. Don't forget to use a tree wound dressing on the freshly cut wounds to prevent borers from attacking these plants. Importantly, roses will also need to be pruned now, as leaving it much later than the end of this month would be to the detriment of the plant.
Top dressing of the lawn could also be started now. Now this does not mean to go and put on a large volume of soil above the grass level. It is more a process of just filling in the gaps between the runners and your lawn. Vigilance will be needed in watching for the fungal disease Dollar Spot, which spreads rapidly with foggy, dewy mornings and warm days.
The only other important thing to remember with August the month always deliveries strong winds that seem to make almost every plant in the garden want to bend down to the ground. So keep an eye on any of the shrubs that are starting to produce massive new growth as these may need to be tip-pruned. In some cases even having a point to which they can be fixed, either by putting in a few garden stakes, or even just having another plant that they can be loosely tied during that troublesome time.
This weekend also has a number advantages for Rockhampton Garden Competition entrants as those final changes to the garden before the judges arrive in about 10 days' time. If you have not entered the Rockhampton Garden Competition you have until this Thursday to enter. Entry forms can be found online at ww.rrc.qld.gov.au or by contacting your local Rockhampton Regional Councillor.