Kynoch’s Dirt Diaries – January

Dear Tanya…

I want to know what the light requirements are for hydrangeas? Is it semi-shade? I see a friend’s plants are under trees and look like they have too much shade. Also do they grow in alkaline or acid soil and do they need mulching? – Jan Venter

Hi Jan,

Hydrangeas will do best in a spot that receives partial shade – ideally, sun in the mornings and shade in the afternoon. The key thing to remember about the soil is that the level of acidity or alkalinity will determine the colour – from blue to purple to pink. For a bluer shade, make sure your soil is acidic. For pinker blooms, amend it to be more alkaline. A good mulch of compost or leaf mould will help your hydrangeas and feed with a fertiliser like Kynoch Garden every 4-6 weeks.

Happy gardening, Tanya

Please can you help. I want to grow garlic in a pot. Does garlic have any special requirements than other herbs? Could you please advise. I live in Pretoria – Sannie

Hi Sannie,

The bulbs should be planted in autumn (March or April). Garlic grows best if planted in full sun, in soil that drains well and has been enriched with compost. When planting, break up the garlic head into individual cloves. Plant each clove deeply (about 5cm) with the tip of the clove pointing upwards. Make sure the tip is covered with soil. Firm down gently. Space cloves 15cm apart. Cover with a layer of mulch. In your pots, use good-quality potting soil, or a mix of potting soil and home-made compost. Keep soil moist but don’t over water during sprouting. Young plants can be kept in the pots over winter and planted out in early spring.

All the best and happy gardening, Tanya

What type of soil do clivias need? I have 12 plants and would like to plant them out from their grow packets. What compost/soil should I use? – Marie

Hi Marie,

Clivias need humus-rich, well-draining soil. They will also do well with a dose of fertiliser during summer and autumn.

Wishing you all the best! Tanya

Send your questions to info@thegardener.co.za using the subject line Kynoch’s Dirt Diaries.

The Gardener