So Long Summer, Hello Autumn

Welcome to March. Refreshingly cool mornings usher in the start of autumn. While days can still be warm, it’s the beginning of a new cycle of renewal and growth in the garden. Autumn is a season that is now on par with spring when it comes to gardening. There’s plenty to do, planting, planning and preparing. So let’s get started!

March is the perfect time to plant: Advanced trees, alstroemeria, acalypha, begonias, boston ivy, bougainvilleas, breynia, cassia (Golden Shower Tree), crepe myrtles, geraniums, gardenias, gazanias, grevillea,  hibiscus, jacaranda,  lavender, magnolia, mandevilla, murraya, natives, nandina, oleander, ornamental plums, pandorea, petunia, plumbago, pomegranate, petunias, portulaca, poinciana, roses, scaevola, salvia, star jasmine, syzygium (lilly pillies), succulents, vinca and westringia.

Plant now in your edible garden: Apples, basil, beetroot, blueberries, broccoli capsicum, capers, carrot, celery, chicory, chilli, cabbage, chives, citrus trees, coriander, climbing beans,  endive, egg plant, fennel, figs, globe artichokes, goji berry, grapes, kale, leeks, lettuce, mangoes, marjoram, mint, nectarines, olives, onions, oregano, pak choy, parsley, passionfruit, paw paw, peaches, quince, radish, rhubarb, rocket, rosemary, sage, silverbeet, spring onions, spinach, squash, stevia, sweet corn, tarragon, thyme, tomatoes, and zucchini.

What’s In Flower This Month: Agapanthus, banksias, begonia, bougainvillea, butterkins (Sida), canna, cassia (Golden Shower Tree), crown of thorns (Euphorbia), cuphea, delonix (Poinciana Tree), duranta, eremophila, erigeron, frangipani, gardenia, geranium, grevillea, hibiscus, illyarrie (Eucalyptus erythrocorys), Kangaroo Paws, magnolia, mandevilla, marigold, marri (Corymbia/ Eucalyptus Calophylla), oleander, ozothamnus, pandorea, petunia, plumbago, red flowering gum (Corymbia/Eucalyptus ficifolia), roses, salvia, stephanotis, strelitzia, and vincas.

Garden Jobs for March

1.  March is a good time to give roses an autumn trim to encourage spectacular, end of season blooming in April and May. To do this cut back canes by about one third their length. Also take the opportunity to remove any diseased or crossing branches. Following your autumn trim, feed roses with Dawson’s All Purpose Fertiliser, to help promote autumn growth.

2. Control mealy bugs. Mealy bugs populations can build up quickly over late summer and autumn. To control spray with Confidor.

3. Prune back rampant growth on grapes and ornamental climbers.

 4. Select Spring flowering bulbs. Bulbs such as Tulips and Hyacinths will benefit from some chilling prior to planting. Store in brown paper bags in your crisper (not freezer) for 4-8 weeks prior to planting. Aim to have bulbs planted by the end May-early June.

5. Prune Olives to open up the centre of trees. This allows more even light penetration though the canopy, leading to increased cropping. Remove branches and shoots growing into the centre of the tree, aiming to keep the centre relatively open.

6. Feed Hibiscus monthly until late autumn with a good, balanced fertiliser like Dawson’s All Purpose Fertiliser or Eco Prime.

7.  Select seed garlic bulbs for planting late March and April. Growing your own full flavoured garlic is easy, and means you’ll have a fantastic home-grown alternative to the tasteless imported, supermarket garlic. Customers be quick to secure your seed garlic, stock are limited. For detailed garlic growing information see our Garlic Fact Sheet

8. It’s time to prepare vegetable beds for autumn plantings. Prepare beds by cultivating to a depth of 25-30cm. Blend in organic materials such as Dawson’s Soil Improver. Treat soil with a wetting agent like Eco Wet or consider blending in Soil Solver, a mineral clay soil builder. The clay changes the physical properties of the soil allowing it to hold more water and nutrients. Rake over and level off soil.

9. Remove spent flowers from geraniums to encourage repeat flowering and liquid feed fortnightly with Seasol or Flourish.

10. Look out for citrus leaf miner. Spray fortnightly with Eco Oil or Eco Neem to protect young  developing foliage from attack by disfiguring Citrus leaf miner (A moth which injects its eggs into young citrus  foliage). It’s usually just the young soft foliage which is vulnerable to attack, so spraying can stop once it has hardened off.

March Planting Guide

1. Autumn Camellias The camellia season is about to begin. Our bumper new seasons crop of Sasanqua Camellias are in full bud and ready to bloom this autumn! Sasanquas are often called “Autumn Camellias” because of their happy knack of flowering over autumn, with varieties beginning to flower as early as March. Sananquas are the hardiest of the Camellias with an almost “bullet proof” constitution. They are relatively fast growers, growing to between 1.5m and 3-4m high. This makes them perfect for screening and hedging use. But that’s not all! They make wonderful container plants when planted in large tubs. You can even try your hand at espalier, training them on walls and fences. Like most Camellias, sasanquas favour positions in dappled light or morning sun and afternoon shade, but they will also tolerate full sun provided they are well mulched and watered over the warmer months. Camellias require slightly acidic soil conditions, so to grow them successfully in Perth’s limey sands, blend in Dawson’s Soil Improver at the rate of 2 parts soil improver to 2 parts soil (a 50: 50 mix). Follow up by applying coarse grade acidic mulch like chunky Pine Bark Mulch, leaving a 10-15cm bare circle around the stem. Begin or add to your Camellia collection with these beautiful Autumn flowering varieties; Beatrice Emily, Hiryu, Jean May, Jennifer Susan, Pure Silk, Rose Ann, Setsugekka, Shishi Gashira, Snow Cloud, Yuletide and more!

2. Dracaena  Known has Dragon Trees these versatile plants bring plenty of designer looks to indoor, patio and outdoor areas. The various forms of Dracaena marginata, generally grow into multi branched, architectural looking large shrubs. The grey-green branches are clothed with attractive sword shaped foliage. They are amongst the hardiest of plants and will grow happily in well lit indoor areas, or equally well as feature plant on patios, decks and verandas. They can also be hardened off to grow outside in full sun position. Dragon trees look magnificent planted in feature planters and tubs. Choose from dracaena marginata with green foliage, black blushed Black Knight and richly coloured variegated types. They can grow to several metres high, but height can be restricted by pruning which encourages further branching.

3. Fragrant Frangipanis Bring tropical magic to sunny courtyard pots and sunny garden spots. These slow growing tropical trees can be kept for many years in large tubs. Alternatively plant in a sunny, protected garden positions where they will slowly grow into small to medium sized trees of 3-4m. Select from Cream, Pink, Red or Tricolour.

4. Golden Shower Tree This sought after collectors tree is now available for a limited period. The Golden Shower is a tropical, deciduous tree, flowering over summer and autumn, producing glorious, cascading clusters of golden-yellow flowers. It is best grown in frost free areas and prefers sunny protected positions. The tree is particularly fast growing when young and eventually grows to around 4-8m tall. It’s simply magic! It makes a magnificent lawn specimen tree.

5. Papaya /Paw Paws These hard to get, quick growing tropical perennials are in season now. Plant into rich improved soil, in a sunny protected position and aim to maintain some soil moisture at all times. Paw Paws can be susceptible to heat scorch when young, so it’s a good idea to provide some temporary shade until established. To optimize chances of cross pollination, we recommend planting Paw Paws in groups of three. Customers- limited stocks available, so get in quick to avoid disappointment.

6. Poinciana Thought by many to be the most spectacular flowering tree on earth. In summer and autumn the tree’s ferny foliage is covered with breathtaking, fiery-red flowers. Poincianas usually grow to between 4-10 metres high with characteristic, spreading canopies. This tropical tree tends to be winter-time deciduous in our climate. It performs well in most frost frees areas and along the coast. While not suited to small gardens where space permits, it’s a truly spectacular specimen and shade tree. While it can take trees 5-8 years to commence flowering, it’s well worth the wait. When the Poinciana flowers it’s like letting the genie out of the bottle!

7.  Bougainvillea Penelope Bougainvilleas like the pure white flowering Penelope, are at their brilliant best during the balmy days of autumn. Use them to cover walls fences or pergolas, for screening or security hedging, grow them in large tubs or allow them to scramble up old tree stumps. They are real sun lovers and very tough once established. Right now is a good time to plant and establish Bougainvilleas.Select from colourful varieties including Scarlet O’Hara (red/scarlet), Hawaiian Gold (yellow), Sanderiana (purple) and White Cascade (cream/white).

8.  Chinese Tallow Trees- One of the most popular, autumn foliage trees grown in Perth and deservedly so. A medium sized specimen tree suitable for gardens small and large. Lovely rounded canopy. Grows to 5-8m high and 3-4mwide. Plant now and enjoy its autumn colour parade as leaves turn shades of yellow, red, orange and tan. Beautiful advanced trees available now.

9. Hibiscus Covakanic A true, large flowered Hawaiian type. Multi-coloured blooms of orange, fawn and pink with gold towards the petal edges. Covakanic grows to 2.5mhigh, making it a great addition to mixed plantings or use it as a medium flowering hedge. Like all Hibiscus it’s a long flowering beauty and easy to grow. These versatile plants make ideal hedges, screens or windbreaks and are just the thing for hiding the fence line. They look great around pools and perform well in coastal gardens. Try favourite varieties like; Apple Blossom, Celia, Cuban Variety, Full Moon, Kerry Wilson, Mrs George Davis, Pendunculatum, Red Rover, Sabrina, Swan Lake and Tiny Tina.

10. Aeonium haworthii x urbicum Succulents like Aeoniums are the ultimate waterwise plants. Their ability to store water in their fleshy leaves and stems gives them great heat and drought tolerance. Aeonium haworthii x urbicum is an attractive succulent with rosettes of grey-green foliage. The leaf edges have a pink margin which is more prominent when grown in full sun. This Aeonium brings great texture and interest to sunny, warm spots whether used in pots or in garden beds.

Feature Roses – Fire Fighter

Fire Fighter

A great example of a modern, fragrant, red rose. Fire Fighter was a medal winner at the Australian National Rose Trial Gardens in 2008 and was released nationally in 2009. It is without doubt one of the best newer red roses to be released in recent years.  Fire Fighter is an intensely fragrant, rich red, hybrid tea rose.  It produces wonderful picking quality, beautifully folded blooms. A bonus is that the long flower stems are relatively free of thorns, making it easy to work with.  In the garden it is a good all-round performer. It grows to around 160cm tall.