Kynoch’s Dirt Diaries – September

Dear Tanya…

Good day, I would like to plant a leaf I received from a friend. I live in the Northern Cape where it’s cold now. Can I just plant the leaf? If not, please would you advise me how to go about it.

Thank you very much, Carlene Fisher

Hi Carlene, I am going to take a guess here but I think the leaf you have is called Kalanchoe tomentosa. Yes, they can be grown by leaves, in fact very successfully. If the leaf has simply fallen off the mother plant or has been removed carefully from the stem the success rate is normally really good. Place the leaf on a tray filled with fine gravel, lay the leaf on it in a well-lit area – not direct sun. Once the end of the leaf wound – the area where it was originally attached to the mother plant – has calloused (formed a scar) then you can spritz the leaf with water about once a week. Just a light spritzing. The leaf will send out roots first to anchor itself into the gravel and then start sending out a new little growth point. Once the group of leaves is big enough to handle, it can be planted into a pot or into the garden. They are beautiful plants with stunning varieties such as ‘Chocolate Soldier’ which has a deep brown velvety colouring – a must have!

All the best, Tanya

Hello Tanya, I am extremely disappointed with my Geraldton wax. Over the years I have planted eight of these beautiful shrubs of which some died after the first flowering season and others are hovering on the point of death. When I read your description of “buckets full of flowers” I wanted to cry! We live in Noordhoek about 5km away from the coast and have slightly sandy soil. I have planted some in the ground and others in pots. We use borehole water with a visible iron content. My other plants flourish under the same conditions though. Can you please give me some advice about feeding – how often and how much, sun, soil and water? I am doing something wrong and is determined to find out what!

Kind regards, Rykie

READ MORE: Kynochs Dirt Diaries August

Hello Rykie, let’s get you on track! I am not convinced that the borehole water is your problem. More than likely, it is over or underwatering – especially in the first three months of the plant’s life. Although they are drought-hardy when established, when they have just been planted, they need to stay well-watered on average twice to three times a week. Your soil, based on where you are living, should be very welldraining, so this is a great advantage for your plant. When planting only add compost to the soil, or even better, if you can get hold of a few bags of Protea potting mix, it would be great. Add nothing else into the planting hole. Create a little furrow around each plant so that when you water it stays trapped and goes straight into the root zone. These particular plants are grown in a very well-draining soil mix which dries out fast, so very often they don’t get enough water in the early months. After three months they would have sent out enough new roots for you to be able to reduce the watering. Then it’s a matter of sitting back and enjoying!

All the best, Tanya

We recently moved into a new property in Crestholme, Durban, with a lovely garden area. The garden is semi-established but has red (clay?) sand. I am not sure what type of plant will thrive in this type of sand. Do I need to do anything to the soil before I plant new plants? Also, which type of plants or flowers will be suitable for this type of soil?

I look forward to hearing from you, Sandy

Hi Sandy, first off, wow you have got a little piece of paradise there! I love the stone walls and the fact that they have been terraced is fantastic. Red soil is generally very nutritious; however, the structure is not that great. What I mean by that is that red soil can be sandy or clayey. To me it looks like your soil is on the sandy side. I would advise the following: Start a compost heap yesterday – this is what your soil is missing, the more organic content you add to this soil the better it will become. Adding organic content in the form of homemade compost or store-bought compost will improve the soil structure, this in turn has many added benefits. The soil will hold water for longer and release ‘trapped’ nutrition. I would also recommend that when planting you add KynoGarden to every planting hole. This dynamic fertiliser has not only the basics that most fertilisers have – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – but it also has added trace elements. This is the winner and will increase good microbial content and make a markable difference to your plants as they get going and settled in. For your other established plants, I would recommend Kyno Shrub Flower & Fruit. This again is going to give your plants the nutrition they need and those added trace elements. Finally, a good mulching around all the plants, try not have any bare soil. Plant suggestions on the bank to cascade include ruschia, erigeron, evolvulus, delosperma and crassula species. Middle planting shrubs suggestions include Crassula ovata, Plectranthus ecklonii and Helichrysum petiolare.

Enjoy this amazing time creating your own piece of paradise, Tanya

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

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