The coolest months are an opportunity to tackle some important gardening jobs and give the garden a thorough tidy up after a busy growing season. It will also help make your garden a lot happier and healthier come spring. So grab your beanie, a warm jacket and get started!
Cold winter weather and frosts can damage plant foliage and shoots, particularly if unseasonable conditions have resulted in the autumn growth flush continuing later than usual, or tender new growth emerges prior to spring.
Plants can be injured by cold temperatures when ice crystals form inside plant tissues, leading to the cells rupturing, desiccating or bursting. It is believed that the amount of damage is influenced by how rapidly the temperature drops, rather than how long the cold snap lasts for. It is also thought that the speed of thawing can affect the amount of damage, with a slower thaw potentially helping to minimise plant cell injury.
To help protect vulnerable plants from cold and frost:
- Move potted plants to a protected area such as on a veranda or up against a north facing wall.
- Don’t dig or disturb the soil around plants, which can make the soil cooler and increase potential cold damage.
- Drape frost or shade cloth over sensitive plants.
- Water the garden well during the morning so the soil is moist – moist soil holds more warmth than dry soil.
- Avoid watering plants in the afternoon, so that the foliage has a chance to dry off before nightfall.
- Remove weeds and grasses under and around trees and shrubs, to allow more sunlight and warmth to penetrate into the soil.
- Spray foliage with Yates Waterwise DroughtShield, it forms a protective, flexible film over leaves which helps reduce frost damage.
- Don’t prune off any damaged foliage until the risk of frost has passed, as the damaged leaves can help protect the rest of the plant.
If you haven’t already treated your lawn for Winter Grass, there’s no time to lose! Winter Grass seed germinates when the soil temperature reaches around 12°C, and young Winter Grass seedlings begin to establish during autumn. An application of Munns Professional Winter Grass Killer will help control young Winter Grass seedlings before they have a chance to flower and set seed, helping to prevent future generations of Winter Grass.
Moss & Algae Control
Prolonged wet weather, poor drainage and shade, can create ideal conditions for moss and algae, making pathways slippery and dangerous. To kill moss and algae, spray paths and hard surfaces with Yates Nature’s Way Organic Weed Spray Killer, which is approved for use in organic gardening. To reduce the chance of moss and algae returning, cut back any overhanging trees and shrubs to allow more light into the area. Yates Nature's Way Organic Weed Killer will also control broadleaf weeds and grasses in pathways, with visible symptoms appearing on some weeds after 1 hour.
Soil Care for Acid-Loving Plants
Plants such as Azaleas, Camellias and Blueberries prefer the soil to be acidic, that is, below pH 7. This allows the plants to access the nutrients they require, including iron. Acid loving plants growing alkaline soil (pH above 7) will often be deficient in iron, which shows up as pale leaves with darker green veins. To help make soil more acidic, apply some Yates Soil Acidifier Liquid Sulfur. It’s easy to apply using a watering can and can be reapplied every 4 weeks until the required pH is achieved.
Orchids (see Moth and Cymbidium) that flower during the cooler months will appreciate a feed. It takes a lot of energy to put on a fabulous flower show! It's as easy as inserting a Yates Thrive Orchid Plant Food Spike into the potting mix. The spikes have been specially formulated to provide the right balance of nutrients for orchids and are easy to use, no mess, and out of sight. The spikes contain a concentrated blend of slow release nutrients to feed your orchids for up to 2 months.