November in the garden
Here’s what to do in November in the garden – keep your checklist close to remind yourself.
On trend container gardening
Container gardening is gaining in popularity by the day, and what’s not to love about it?
- You can garden in small spaces and even indoors
- You can take your garden with you if you move home
- You can change your garden according to the seasons or if you get bored with it
- You have total control over the soil. Garden centres are now stocked to the rafters with everything you need to really get stuck into containers – you will find top-quality soil mediums, a wide range of pots, drainage chips, a variety of suitable plants (very few plants are not conducive to growing in pots!), suitable fertilisers, water-retention products and very decorative mulches.
They say that the blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) is one of the world’s most effective super foods due to its high concentration of antioxidants. Good news is that a number of great blueberry varieties are now readily available locally. Plant them in full sun in a space that will allow for a mature height of 1.5m and a spread of up to 2m wide. You can also plant them in large pots. Blueberries like moist, acidic soil so mulch them with acidic compost or pine needles and feed them with a fertiliser formulated for blue hydrangeas.
Petite, but with huge flower power
Dwarf Inca lilies are magnificent for the garden, and also suitable to grow in containers as they reach a height of only 30 – 35cm. They flower profusely from spring to autumn and can be found in a wide range of bright colours. Just like their taller family members, these shorties can be picked as long-lasting cut flowers.
Growth in a nutshell:
- Good for sun or light shade;
- Provide loam soil enriched with compost;
- Water and feed with fertiliser regularly in the summer months for continuous flower production.
Brighten up shady areas with glorious hydrangeas, which are available in flower now. Fill in between them with colour using impatiens, begonias and browallias. Hydrangeas love dappled shade, rich loamy soil and lots of water. If you want to grow them in pots, place them on the southern side of the house for early morning sun and afternoon shade. New Zealand rock lily (Arthropodium cirratum) is well known not only as a perfect shade plant, but also as an excellent coastal plant. This is a clump-forming, herbaceous perennial with soft, lush, lime-green foliage that brings form and colour to any garden bed. The strap-like leaves surround masses of delicate, starry, white flowers that occur abundance in late spring to summer on a flower spike approximately 60cm in height. This is a tough and maintenance-free plant.
Pretty blooms for a dry garden
Statice (Limonium perezii) is an evergreen perennial that forms a rosette of large, leathery leaves. It grows in the sun in most soils as long as it is well drained. It is drought tolerant once established, but needs regular watering when newly planted. This is a reliable, lowmaintenance plant. You only need to remove the old foliage to keep the plant tidy and looking good. The statice plant flowers year-round but has more flowers in spring and summer. It has large clusters of bicolour white and purple-blue blooms on stems ranging from 15 – 60cm tall. The flowers last forever and are excellent cut flowers both fresh and dried as they retain their colour.
Food for the wild ones
Keep planting for birds, bees and butterflies. Wild dagga (Leonotis leonurus), September bush (Polygala myrtifolia), Egyptian star (Pentas lanceolata) and the wonderful Buddleja ‘Buzz’ range of dwarf butterfly bushes are highly recommended for making your garden come alive!
Bedding bestie – portulaca
Portulaca grandiflora varieties are annual succulents that flower their hearts out in summer to autumn. They mature at around 15cm in height and 30 – 40cm in width. The reddish coloured stems are prostrate, and green cylindrical leaves are arranged in clusters around the stem and pointed at the ends. Both the stems and leaves are thick and fleshy. The flowers, formed at the tips of the stems, are rose-like in appearance and have either single, semi-double or double petals. The colours tend to be bright, such as scarlet, orange, yellow, pink and white, although there are some cultivars that have been bred for a more pastel palette. The best uses for this plant are in a rockery, as a groundcover between stepping stones or in a hanging basket. The trailing habit of this plant makes for an ideal companion in containers as it will spill over the edges magnificently. They like sandy, well-draining soil and a hot and sunny position.
Beware the lily borer (a black caterpillar with yellow bands), which bores into the hearts of clivias, agapanthus and arum lilies. Signs of activity are decaying leaves and dying plants. Treat early or preventively with a registered insecticide containing cypermethrin.
Mosquitoes are attracted to body odour, and repellents work by masking the body’s scent and keeping mosquitoes at a distance, especially if they dislike the smell. This is why the leaves of some aromatic herbs work so well. To be effective, however, it is necessary to rub the leaves onto the skin, because it releases their fragrance and leaves the oils on the skin. Try these in pots on your patio: Lemon balm has lemon-scented leaves that keep all biting insects away. It does best in full sun. Citronella geranium has a strong fragrance. This hardy perennial grows 80cm high and wide in full sun. Bruise the leaves to release the fragrance. Sweet basil is not a favourite of mozzies. Rub fresh leaves on your skin as a repellent. The leaves also have an antiseptic action that relieves itching from bites or stings. Basil, especially perennial basil, repels flies too.
Pruning to do
- Fynbos like buchus, leucospermums, ericas and proteas can be pruned after flowering. Also prune confetti bushes quite hard.
- Stop lavenders like Lavandula stoechas from becoming woody by pruning them just after a flowering spell – this will keep them healthy and around for longer. Prune about 2⁄3 of the growth away and never into old wood.
- Prune jasmines, banksia roses, deutzias and spiraeas after flowering.
- Prune shrubs suffering from hail and late frost damage lightly and treat them preventatively with a fungicide.
- Prune ivy geraniums after a first flower flush. Keep on feeding them regularly to encourage another flower flush.
General yard stuff
- Keep emerging summer bulbs moist and start feeding them with bulb fertiliser as soon as their leaves begin unfolding.
- Stake tall perennials to stop them from toppling in strong wind.
- Visit your nearest nursery for all the latest agapanthus varieties to add to your collection. It is also a good month to plant star jasmines, hibiscus, carnations, aquilegias, rudbeckias, echinaceas, gardenias and bougainvilleas.
- Eat your flowers – nothing makes a summer salad look prettier than garden flowers scattered over it, and it is high fashion too! Add some begonias, daylilies, hibiscus, borage and pineapple sage to your garden for culinary use.
- Going on holiday soon? Weed all the beds, feed them with a general fertiliser, water well afterwards and mulch – this will keep your garden healthy until you return. Check that your irrigation system is working perfectly and covering all of the beds.
- If potted plants are sagging it could be a drainage problem. Lift them onto ‘pot feet’ or old bricks to ensure that drainage holes remain functional. Water plants that are under the roof overhang of buildings. While it is wet outside, they can die from drought!
- If you don’t see a dark emerald green lawn before you, fertilise now and water and mow regularly.
- Follow-up spraying of fruit trees when the fruit are still small and green will stop damage by fruit flies.