What to do in October


By Chris Dalzell Time of article publishedOct 24, 2019

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Shrubs and ground covers in flower this month

Mackaya bella (Forest bells): like to grow in shade and will flower for the next two months

Tecoma capensis (Cape Honey Suckle): after flowering, can be cut back to a manageable size

Turraea obtusifolia: small honeysuckle-tree which grows best in full sun, Becium obovatum (Cat’s Whiskers): attracts lots of bees and butterflies and must be cut back once a year

Agapanthus praecox (Agapanthus): will flower from now until after Christmas

Tulbaghia violaceae (wild Garlic), Chlorophytum bowker (Hen and Chicken), Clivia miniata (Clivia): different colour forms grow best in deep shade

Crinum macowanii (River lily): keep an eye on as the Amaryllis caterpillar feeds on the fresh new leaves.

Feeding and watering

It’s important to feed your lawns and flower beds during the summer rainy season. The days are longer and warmer and the roots take up lots of water and nutrients.

For lawns use a high nitrogen fertiliser such as LAN or 5.1.5. Apply a handful per m2. Water well after application. For flower beds use a more general fertiliser such 2.3.2 or 3.2.1. Apply the same way as you do for the lawns and water well after


Eliminate alien plants

I mentioned earlier alien plants in New Zealand especially South African and Australian plants that have become very invasive in the North Island and which are now a huge burden on farmers and local municipalities.

If you are not sure whether a plant is alien, send me a photo so I can identify it for you.

Once alien plants have flowered, they produce seeds which are then carried by birds to other gardens and before you know it you have a forest of alien plants. By law you have to remove these plants from your garden. These include Melia azerderach (Syringa), Lantana camara (Tickberry), Chromolaena odorata (Triffid weed) and litsea sebifera (Indian Laurel).


Watch for insects and fungal problems in the humid weather, especially scale, aphids and Mealy bugs. Many Milkweeds will be infested with aphids but don’t

spray because ladybird beetles feed on aphids.

It’s the ideal time to repot indoor and outdoor pots. Remove the plant from the pot and remove most of the old soil from the roots. Rinse off excess soil and then replant with fresh potting medium. Sprinkle some blue chips on the top of the soil. This is a high nitrogen fertiliser that will boost growth.

Pot planting

Hanging baskets should be planted in September/October but it is never too late. Line the basket with palm husks and fill with a mixture of topsoil, compost and river sand. Select what annuals you want in the basket and design your own

hanging basket. Water the basket every four days.

Enjoy the late spring flowering shrubs and groundcovers which provide flowers over the next few months. Examples are Hydrageas, Agapanthus, Tulbagias, plumbago auriculata, Plectranthus zuluensis, Aloe tenuior, Cyrtanthus obliquus, bauhinia galpinii, Crinum bulbispermum.

Split and replant groundcovers such as Dietes, Tulbaghia, Crassula, Cotyledons and Chlorophytum.

The Independent on Saturday


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