Taking us to Chelsea in 2007.
Live images from Chelsea on May 21st at 8pm.
Please tell your friends. No one else will.
Written by Wally Richards. 19th May 2007
CONTAINER PLANTS IN WINTER
Winter can be a tough time for plants that grow in containers either outside
or indoors, unless you take some special care of them.
Before we look at the problems these plants face, let us consider the
difference between plants growing in the garden and the ones in containers.
Garden plants have nature to look after them, sunlight, rain and the soil
provide for their basic needs.
It is only during times of low rainfall that you need to assist in keeping
them alive with regular waterings.
There are other functions that you provide such as preventing them from
choking out each other with a bit of pruning, removal of competing plants
(weeds), staking against damage from wind and providing extra nourishment
as need be.
By in large most of the time plants in the garden can fend for themselves
with what nature and the weather provides.
When we take a plant and place it in a container, we become very responsible
for its well being.
Outdoor container mixes dry out quickly during the summer and daily or
even twice daily waterings maybe needed. During wet times we need to ensure
that the outdoor container plants have free drainage if they are rained
on. This means removing any saucers and raising the containers off the
ground with a couple of slats of wood.
Over the next few months, without rain, you are likely to be only giving
these containers an occasional light watering, maybe once or twice a week.
Indoor plants are much more dependant on your care as they have a harder
life because many of them are living in a space where there is no natural
In most homes, light comes only through windows and dependant on which
direction a window faces will determine the amount of light the plant
receives. Windows facing north obtain the most direct light where east
and west facing windows are likely to receive only half as much direct
light in a day.
South facing windows receive little if any direct light from the sun.
These same rooms will be the coolest or coldest rooms in the house dependant
on the time of the year.
A plant sitting in front of a window facing either west, north or east
will receive very good light in summer and only a fraction of that in
winter. If you have a sun screen curtain across the window, you have likely
reduced the amount of light the plant receives by half. Move a plant a
metre or more away from a window then the amount of direct light drops
off. The futher away the less light which becomes then reflected light.
We all have seen plants that are stretching towards the window to gain
more light, becoming ungainly and weak. There is a big selection of different
types of house plants each with a different requirement for the amount
of light it receives. A general rule of thumb is the plants with the largest
leaves will survive better in lessor light situations compared to smaller
leaf plants. Most flowering plants require plenty of direct light to be
able to produce buds and have those buds open. If you have an indoor flowering
plant and it either does not produce flower buds or the buds fail to open,
falling off after forming, then the plant is telling you it needs more
In winter the light situation becomes even worse for indoor plants. The
hours of natural light are shorter and the sun is at a lower position
in relation to the horizon. Plants need light to grow and as the amount
of light decreases so their growth slows or stops. Indoor plants do receive
a bit of extra light from us when we turn the light switch on after dusk.
If we are using the new power saving lights then the type of light the
plants receive is better suited to their requirements compared to the
When indoor plants are receiving less light their needs for moisture greatly
This is a key point at this time of the year and one of the main causes
of plants dying.
Wet potting mix in cool weather means root rots, which cause leaves to
fall and likely a loss eventually of that plant.
So in winter you must be very careful with your watering of indoor plants.
You need to check every plant every few days and basically only give them
a little drink when the foliage starts to droop through lack of moisture.
(Beware also that plants that are too wet will also have drooping foliage
and to give them more water is likely to be fatal.)
Plant food is not needed for house plants at this time of the year unless
they are flowering or still actively growing. Wait till the plants start
showing signs of new growth in the spring before you start to feed again.
Avoid repotting into larger containers in winter as this also can cause
wet feet till the roots once again fill the container.
You are the care giver of your container plants both indoors and outside
so be aware of their needs and look after them accordantly.
GRASS GRUBS AND PORINA
Gardeners that have problems in the lawn with either of these two pests
should take note that both are coming up towards maturity at this time
and will do the maximum amount of damage.
With porina caterpillars, they live in the soil and come out after dusk
to feed at the base of your grasses.
They are fairly easy to control with a spray of Neem Tree Oil. This should
be applied late in the day to the lawn after it has been recently mowed.
Repeat again about 4 weeks later.
Grass grubs on the other hand are much more difficult to control and dependant
on the size of your lawn a more expensive job. Likely there is little
need to treat the whole lawn with a control as the biggest number of the
grubs will be where there has been problems in the past. This is also
true in areas where they are lite after dark, by street lights or security
lighting. In my book, Wally’s Down to Earth Gardening Guide I give an
excellent way to control the pest in early summer when the adults are
on the wing.
Before you start to spend your money to treat the lawn you should check
to see how many grubs are in the lawn. This is done by cutting several
small squares with the spade and lifting the turf. Examine both the hole
and lifted section for the number of grubs. If there are none or only
a few then it is not worth worrying about. (Use the summer control of
the beetles) But if a good number is found then that area should be treated.
There are two treatments that you can use and the first of these is Neem
Tree Granules sprinkled on the lawn and lightly watered in. The granules
break down and release the Neem properties which are taken up by the roots.
When a treated root is chewed on by a grub, that will be the last bite
it ever takes.
Safe for pets and wildlife including birds as Neem only harms insect pests.
For those gardeners that like to use a strong chemical then use Pyrifos
G. It too is a granule that is spread at the rate of 2 grams per square
metre. (Needs to be applied with a spreader)
It is a strong poison and you need to take great care in handling and
prevent pets and children from using the target area till it is well absorbed
into the soil.
Diazinon is another chemical treatment but does not work well in all soil
types (best used only in light, sandy or volcanic soils) otherwise it
can be a costly exercise for no advantage.
The utmost care must be taken if using either of these two chemical products.
Problems ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages at www.sharpei.co.nz
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