July in the garden
Nectarine images courtesy of plantnet.com.au
July is a good month to tackle jobs like winter pruning of roses and deciduous fruiting plants. Winter gardens can be delightful too, with winter bloomers like camellias, colourful red poinsettias or bold orange trumpet vine putting on a wonderful display and sweetly perfumed daphne scenting the air.
Fruit and citrus
Check citrus trees for lumpy swellings along the stems. These are indications of citrus gall wasp damage. The female wasp lays her eggs just under the soft new bark in spring, and the larvae hatch out and eat the tissue, causing the lumpy swellings. Once tiny pinprick holes appear, the larvae have emerged, so the best control is to remove the galls in winter as you notice the swellings. Prune these off and place in a plastic bag in the rubbish, not the compost.
Many fruiting plants take up nutrients now ready for spring. Boost passionfruit and mango trees with an application of Fruit and Flower Booster Liquid Potash, which contains concentrated potassium to encourage prolific flowering and improved fruit quality. The mixture can be applied over the foliage and the soil, where it’s easily absorbed.
Deciduous fruit trees and berry vines are available in garden centres and specialist fruit nurseries throughout winter. There are plenty of varieties to choose from, suited to your climate, including some fabulous dwarf, compact and skinny trees if space is limited. Dwarf trees make good sense as their compact size makes fruit easier to harvest and the trees are simpler to manage and net, protecting fruit from birds and possums.
Deciduous fruit trees, grape vines, and fruiting berries can be pruned in mid winter when plants are leafless. Prune in winter to reduce size as shorter trees make it easier to pick and maintain, remove any dead, diseased or unproductive wood, open up the plants to improve air circulation and allow in all-important sunlight, and promote new fruiting wood. Immediately after pruning spray trees all over with lime sulphur to control overwintering pests like scale and mites which can hide in bark crevices and fungal diseases such peach leaf curl. In cool climates where pruning can be delayed till later in winter after the frosts have passed, spray this month with lime sulphur.
Flowers, trees and shrubs
Brighten your winter months with the cheerful blooms of Hellebores. These hardy and easy to grow plants can be shown off indoors when in full bloom and planted out when the display is done for years of cool season colour! Hellebores require good light to flower well, so they bloom better in dappled light than dense shade. They’ll cope well with root competition from big trees.
Fabulous winter perfume
New release daphne Perfume Princess has a deliciously sweet winter perfume, and blooms prolifically through winter. Perfume Princess begins flowering earlier and flowers for a very long period. The blooms are larger and more plentiful than daphne odora (common daphne) clustering at the tips of the stems and along the branches. Whether you plant it in a container or in the ground it is bound to fill your garden and your senses with gorgeous winter scent. To grow daphne, good drainage is essential, so select a pot with plenty of drainage holes, or a position in a raised garden bed so water drains away freely.
Enrich the soil under magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas by spreading a 50 mm layer of compost (homemade or quality bagged compost) as mulch. The organic matter in compost protects the surface roots of your flowering trees and shrubs, improves soil structure and encourages worms and beneficial organisms.
Dahlias – lift or leave?
Traditionally growers of dahlias lift tubers from the ground as foliage dies down, then store in a cool dry place until mid spring when they replant. Depending on where you live, your soil and winter weather conditions, dahlias may survive quite happily in ground over winter. Dwarf dahlias, and new generation, multi-branching varieties, such as Love Affair and Home Run can remain in the ground for many years. However, in areas with wet winters, where soil stays moist and cold for long periods, dahlia tubers may rot off in the ground, so digging and storing is wise.
Carpet of colour
Alyssum Cameo Mix is a delightful, easy to grow annual. It’s a pretty, low grower with a mix of lilac, cream, pink and white flowers. Sow seeds directly into garden beds or pots and cover with a fine layer of mix and keep moist. Seeds will germinate in 7-14 days. The long lasting blooms have a soft honey scent, and once it’s sown, readily self-seeds, so it will pop up again year after year. If you prefer an all white look, choose alyssum Carpet of Snow.
Vegetables and herbs
Keep liquid feeding vegies, especially leafy crops like winter lettuce, spinach, kale and all the steadily growing brassicas to encourage more delicious growth. You can still sow seeds of broad beans, spinach, peas, sugar snap peas, radish, beetroot, onions, silverbeet and repeat crops of winter lettuce in most areas. Speedy Asian greens can be sowed to fill gaps around slower growing crops like cabbages, cauliflowers and broccoli. In cool zones place protective cloches (made from old plastic drink bottles) over young seedlings to keep them warm and protect from frost.
Long lived vegetables like asparagus, rhubarb, garlic and globe artichoke can be planted during winter, along with strawberries in most areas (except the tropics and sub tropics). In the warm sub tropics and tropical areas, vegie gardens are at peak growing and production, so keep watering well and liquid feeding.
More information: yates.com.au.