Camellia sasanquas are an attractive feature in many autumn gardens. They are very versatile plants as they tolerate drier positions, requiring a minimum of water.
Sasanqua camellias can be grown in positions that are more exposed to sun and wind. Despite this tolerance for garden positions that may be more extreme, sasanqua camellias produce flowers that appear to be delightfully fragile in structure.
They produce an abundance of flowers in a range of colours from white through pale and darker pinks to reds, with some varieties having multi-coloured flowers. Sasanqua camellias differ in their flowering habit from the more well-known camellia japonica in that their flowers generally last for only a few days, whereas flowers on a camellia japonica bush can remain there for periods of up to a week.
However, sasanqua camellias make up for this by producing many more flowers, so that the bush appears to be covered in blooms for an extended period. As the flowers fall, they create a most attractive carpet of colour on the ground.
The flowers help encourage native birds, especially honey eaters, into the home garden as they enjoy the nectar produced in the blossoms.
As sasanqua camellias start their flowering season, this is a good time to choose varieties that you might wish to include in your garden plantings. Flower colour, structure, growth habit and size are all factors to be considered.
Sasanqua camellias are most adaptable and make ideal specimens for topiary subjects, particularly the popular "lollipop" form. They can also be grown as hedges, wind breaks and screens.
Varieties that can be used as ground covers are also available. Because of the nature of their trunks, the removal of lower growth exposes an attractive pattern of shapes on more mature plants, especially if they have been grown along a fence.
They respond very well to trimming with hedge clippers and, therefore, they are ideal for narrow garden beds such as those beside a driveway.
Gardeners wanting new plants without having to buy them may enjoy the challenge of growing plants from cuttings. This may be to produce new plants for the garden, or to provide plants to give to family or friends.
Early autumn is a suitable time for this activity as the new growth that was produced earlier is now at a suitable stage for use as cutting material. Geraniums, azaleas, hibiscus, fuchsias, grevilleas, camellias and lavender are all suitable for this treatment. The plant material selected should be semi-hardwood; new growth that has started to become stronger and less full of sap. Pieces about 10cm long are ideal.
If old flowers or buds are present on the end of the selected piece, they should be removed. Remove any leaves from the lower part of the cutting, leaving only the top one or two sets of leaves. If these leaves are reasonably large, cutting off half of the leaf will reduce moisture loss.
After coating the base of the cutting in a hormone-based cutting powder, or in some honey, it should be put into a pre-made hole in coarse potting mixture. The pot can be covered in a plastic bag in order to create a humid environment.
After four to six weeks the bag can be gradually removed to allow air to circulate around the young plant. Young roots should have formed at the base of the cutting. All the plant material should then be put carefully into a larger pot, avoiding damage to the tender new root system, and using a good quality potting mix.
Cymbidium orchids that have been put in a suitable position will soon produce flower spikes.
These spikes will appear near the base of the plant and are usually thick and shiny in appearance.
The most commonly grown cymbidium orchids flower through August and September. As the flower spikes develop they become quite heavy, so some support will be required. These can be thin stakes, sometimes with a loop at the end.
Snails enjoy the new spikes, so some form of protection will be required.
As the weather cools, the orchid plants can be moved out of their semi-shade / shade area and placed into a position of full sun until spring.
As the flower spikes develop, they will begin to show some colour, until the individual blooms open. At this stage plants can be brought inside for a week or two so that their blooms can be enjoyed.
Alternatively, once a couple of the blooms have opened, the spikes can be cut from the plant and put into a tall vase of water, where they will continue to open.
Black or brown spots on leaves of cymbidium orchids indicate a disease. These plants should be isolated from other plants in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease.
Citrus plants that are growing in the general garden or vegetable area will benefit from a feed from an application of poultry manure. This should be applied to the drip line of the tree, the area under the extremities of the branches, after the soil has been well watered.
Two weeks later, a general citrus food can be applied, under the same conditions.
Container plants should be fed with an appropriate slow-release food.