February is the perfect time to protect potted plants from the sun, tackle weeds and create a watering schedule. Here’s your summer gardening checklist
Your February gardening do-to list
+ While you’re moving potted plants into shade during the hot months, be sure to do the same with your worm farm.
+ Rather than the traditional roses of Valentine’s Day, why not give your beloved something more exotic this year, such as a gardenia plant? Those of us with warm, sheltered gardens are lucky to be able to grow these fragrant shrubs outside, although they’ll do well in pots in very frosty places. To keep them flowering well, spray leaves regularly with water and feed with liquid fertiliser. If yellow foliage is a problem, sprinkle iron chelates around the drip line and water in well.
+ Watering the garden may cost a bit more at this time of year, but a regular regime will save you money on lost plants. Avoid doing it in the evening if you can as wet leaves encourage fungal diseases on many plants. Early morning is best for watering so moisture can be absorbed into the soil before the sun dries it out.
+ Leaking hoses in automated watering systems can also crank up those water bills, so give everything a thorough check, particularly if going away. The spray nozzles and dripper holes can block up during winter as well.
+ If you want to grow more of them, leave the flowers on your favourite plants to set seed. Easy flowering plants to grow from seed include aquilegia, cosmos, dietes, helleborus, honesty, nasturtium, rengarenga lily and sweet peas. Keep seed dry and store in a paper bag somewhere cool. Don’t forget to label.
+ As summer flowering finishes you can encourage more blooms by deadheading.
+ Caterpillars will be hatching out everywhere in gardens at this time of year. Check regularly for the progeny of white butterflies and other caterpillar pests as they can strip all the leaves off plants in a matter of days. Feed caterpillars to chooks or wild birds.
+ An organic method for keeping weeds out of gravel paths and driveways is to pour a little household salt or neat white vinegar onto them when they’re small. Don’t use this method for plants in garden beds as the salt and vinegar can linger in the soil, killing desirable plants.
+ Now is a good time to take cuttings from roses, fuchsia, hydrangeas and other woody shrubs. Use a clean, sharp knife and cut just below a leaf joint.
Topiary can add such a sculptural touch to the garden, but that clipping can play havoc with your body! Make the job easy and painless with these new cordless Stihl shrub shears with ultra sharp blades and a long-lasting lithium battery. Visit stihl.co.nz for stockists.
Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Nick Scott / bauersyndication.com.au.