There’s nothing like a little garden work-out for vanquishing winter doldrums. Here’s your guide to August gardening with bonus tips for daffodil care
Your August gardening checklist and daffodil care guide
+ Top up mulches (to 10cm) and pull out or hoe weeds in garden beds, shell paths and bark areas. Leave them too long and they’ll be harder to remove.
+ While you’ve got gumboots on, grab a stiff broom and scrub slippery mosses and moulds off shady paths. Hose off residue. There are plenty of non-toxic mould removers available or you can make your own.
+ Groom native grasses by raking through tufts with your fingers to remove old foliage. Wear gloves for sharp-leaved varieties. Dig up and divide overgrown clumps.
+ Set the lawnmower blades to high when you give lawns their first cut of the season (once frosts are past) and reduce the height gradually for successive cuts until early summer. Use clippings as a thin mulch around trees, shrubs and potatoes.
+ Feed moth orchids once a month as they come into flower and throughout blooming period with diluted orchid food. If your orchid has finished flowering, cut off stem just below lowest bloom to encourage more flowers. If it hasn’t flowered yet, moving it closer to the light (not direct sunlight) might help.
+ Protect low-growing succulents from rain and frost damage by covering with frost cloth or plastic stretched over wire hoops.
+ Slugs and snails love cool, wet weather so, after rain, ferret around under the leaves and feed your pickings to the birds. Alternatively make your own slug and snail traps (plenty of ideas online). For a garden that doesn’t attract snails, try growing plants such as aquilegia, foxglove, euphorbia, fuchsia, geranium, salvia, lavender and sempervivum
+ If you’re a native bird lover, make sure you’ve got plenty for them to feed on during winter. Aloes, bottlebrush, camellia, protea, banksia, leucospermum and flowering cherries will provide food for nectar eaters like tui. Berry eaters such as wood pigeon adore guava, loquat, crab apple, nikau, coprosma and pseudopanax.
+ Hydrangeas should be pruned before they put on new growth. Cut back flowering stems to a pair of fat buds and remove old or diseased stems. Feed with a balanced fertiliser.
+ Plant roses, crab apple, daphne, hebe, viburnum, lilac, kowhai, magnolia, waratah and other spring-flowering shrubs and trees so they’ll be well established by spring.
+ Feed camellias with a fertiliser designed for these acid-loving plants such as Tui Acid Food or Thrive Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Food.
Want your daffodils to shine this spring?
- Make sure you give them a liquid feed when buds first appear and repeat every couple of weeks until foliage starts to yellow.
- Don’t allow the soil to dry out; water daffodils regularly until 2-3 weeks after flowering.
- Don’t cut foliage off after flowering (or tie it in knots). Wait for it to die down naturally in order to supply the bulb with food for next season’s flowers.
- Bulbs should be lifted every 3-4 years and their clumps divided. Overly large clumps mean fewer flowers. Break up and replant with plenty of space between bulbs. Or store in a cool, dry place if you live in a frosty area.
- If growing in pots, check drainage holes are clear or bulbs will rot.
Words by: Carol Bucknell.