Mandevillas are very popular, easy-care climbers that are now full of flowers.
Mandevillas are also known as Dipladenias and are known for their long lasting flowers that appear over a long flowering period from early summer through to autumn. Flowers may be deep red, bright red, pink or white. Mandevillas make great subjects for pot culture.
Plants that are to be grown in the garden should be placed in a well-drained soil, in full sun to part shade. The addition of compost prior to planting will assist plants to establish quickly.
The main nutrients in fertilisers are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K). Nitrogen is required for foliage growth, Phosphorous assists in the development of a good root system and Potassium is necessary for fruit and flower production.
During the flowering period, plants should be fed regularly every two weeks with a fertiliser higher in levels of Potassium. The use of a soil improver in autumn and spring will assist the development of strong roots.
While Mandevillas require watering, especially during periods of high temperatures, they do not grow well if the soil becomes waterlogged and may flower better if kept somewhat dry.
Mandevillas are climbing plants, so the provisions of a strong support will help in the development of good flowering displays. Plants may be grown along railings on balconies or fences, or over upright structures.
As plants produce a silky sap that may be an irritant to some gardeners, the wearing of gloves may be necessary when cutting back the stems.
Being able to pick fresh herbs from one's own garden is one of the delights of the home gardener, especially if they also enjoy cooking. Knowing how the herbs have been grown, especially without the use of harmful chemicals, adds to this enjoyment.
A wide range of herbs may be planted out at this time of the year. Basil, chives, coriander, lemongrass, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, tarragon and thyme are all suitable for planting.
The smaller herbs are suitable for pot culture and, in fact, a selection of herbs can be grown in the one large pot. Larger herbs, such as rosemary and lemongrass, can be grown in the vegetable garden, or individual pots.
A tub of fresh, well-grown parsley looks most attractive It also provides a ready and convenient source for the flavourful stems and leaves that add a distinct flavour to egg dishes.
Parsley will grow in a position that receives a good amount of sun, although it will also grow in a position of part shade, preferably in the middle of the day or afternoon. It grows quite successfully in the flower-bed, with the distinctive leaves adding interest and variety to the garden.
There are two main varieties of parsley available - flat leaf and curly leaf. Flat leaf parsley is often labelled as Italian or Continental parsley. It has a stronger flavour than the more traditional form.
Parsley can be grown from either seed or seedlings. Late spring to early summer is an ideal time in which to plant out parsley. If growing parsley from seedlings care should be taken to avoid damage to the root system at transplant time.
An application of Seasol at planting will help the plants develop new roots. This should be repeated fortnightly until the seedlings are well established.
Seeds generally take from three to four weeks to germinate, unless the seeds have been soaked in water overnight. This may speed up germination time. Plants can be fertilized with a liquid plant food on a monthly basis.
Regular harvesting of the leaves, once they have reached a suitable size, will encourage better, denser growth.
Plants will probably need to be replaced every two years, or when seed heads are produced. Seed heads that are allowed to mature should result in seedlings appearing in the garden bed.
An attractive pot in which are growing a couple of parsley plants would form a welcome and useful gift for Christmas.
Indoor plants will make more growth during the warmer months than at other times of the year. The application of a soluble fertiliser, suitable for indoor plants, will be most beneficial for the plants.
A number of plants can be brought inside for added decorations during the festive season. Poinsettias are bred specially to flower at this time as their large red bracts are most suitable for decorative purposes.
Trees that normally grow in pots outdoors can be placed inside for limited times, with decorations added to make them festive. Ensure the plants are placed in a position that receives a good flow of fresh air. Varieties of pine trees, including the Wollemi pine, are ideal for this purpose, provided they are placed back outside by New Year.
Because indoor air is drier, extra watering will be required. A saucer or dish should be placed under the pot to provide some humidity, as well as protecting the floor surface. A gentle hose down will remove any dust that may have accumulated on the stems. The plants should gradually be returned to their original positions, increasing the amount of sunlight they receive every few days.
- Watch for fruit fly activity, especially in tomatoes, citrus and capsicums, monitoring their presence with commercially available traps.
- Irregular watering of tomatoes often is responsible for blossom end rot where a dark patch appears at the base of the fruit, making then inedible.
- Dahlia tubers and gladioli corms that are planted now will produce flowers in approximately three months, making them ideal if flowers are required for next Easter.
Maitland and District Garden Club