Category: Fact Sheets

Cymbidium Orchids 05

Cymbidium Orchids

cymbidium colors1

Cymbidiums are easy to grow and readily available in the temperate regions of Australia. Their spectacular long lasting blooms can occur from May through to December and make an excellent gift or display for indoors.  There are a wide selection of colours available and a range of habits such as upright or pendulous and even the number of flowers on each spike. The life span of flowers can be anywhere from 4 – 12 weeks and up to 3 weeks as a cut flower.

Growing Conditions

Providing a few basic conditions are met Cymbidiums do well in our temperate climate. A lot of growers provide shade houses to protect their orchids from the summer sun or winter frost and hail. 50% shade cloth is suitable, although some further shade may be needed in extreme temperatures. Place the orchids on raised benches with gravel underneath. This helps provide the humidity that orchids enjoy in summer. If you have only one or two plants or don’t have room for a shade house, placing under a deciduous tree also works well as long all the other growing conditions are met.

Cymbidium Orchids 02If you have a large collection of orchids an overhead sprinkler system helps maintain your orchids in peak condition. For smaller collections hand watering is adequate and also helps you monitor your plants health. Space your plants to receive maximum light and air flow.

One of the main reasons for lack of flowering in cymbidiums is not enough sunlight. When there is enough light the leaves tend to be a golden green rather than a darker green which indicates not enough light. Plants can be placed out in the winter sunshine being careful to protect them from frosts and watch out for snails and slugs that love the developing flower spikes. The more light the plants receive the sturdier the spikes and blooms will be. Make sure you stake the spikes and face towards the strongest light source.

Potting Mix and Repotting 

Cymbidium Orchids 01Cymbidiums are semi-terrestrial with fleshy roots therefore the potting medium needs to be free draining, but also able to hold moisture to nourish and support the plant.  Heynes sell a range of good quality potting mixes to suit your needs.

The best time to repot your Cymbidiums is just after flowering has finished. This gives them a long growing season before next years flowering. Small plants can be repotted most of the year, avoiding times of extreme heat. Cymbidiums do best when potted with room for one or two years growth. Plants will not thrive if potted in too big a pot. Repotting can be done every 2-4 years depending on growth.

Before repotting your plants carefully untangle the root system shaking off all the old potting mix. Large plants with extensive root systems can have the bottom quarter of the roots cut off making it easier to untangle the roots with minimal damage. Remove any shrivelled dead roots. Try to keep each division to 3-4 bulbs with leaves on them. This will give you the best chance of flowering next year. If your new divisions throw up multiple growths, remove all but one to allow for maximum bulb development and better flowering.

Cymbidium Orchids 05Back bulbs, which are the old leafless bulbs, can be removed, cleaned up and planted in small pots to produce new plants. New growth should be seen anywhere from 3-6 months.  It takes about 4 years for these new plants to flower so patience and space is needed if you choose to go down this path. Some sources suggest leaving an old back bulb on your divisions for better flowering.

Your newly potted plants will need some extra shelter for a few weeks before returning to their usual growing position.


Cymbidium Orchids 04Cymbidiums need to watered well during the warm weather and also kept evenly moist throughout the cooler months. Orchids left to dry out will most likely survive but will not flower well, if at all the following season. Rainwater is preferable as you will get less leaf burn, but Adelaide’s saline water is perfectly acceptable. When using tap water be sure to water each pot several times to flush out all the salts that can accumulate at the bottom of the pot. Even if you can occasionally collect rainwater to flush out the salts, this will benefit your plants. Don’t forget to group pots according to their size for ease of watering. Small pots will dry out quicker than larger pots. Water on the flowers can greatly affect the quality of the blooms so it is a good idea to put your orchids under cover or inside when flowering.


Cymbidium Orchids 06To get the best from your cymbidiums apply a slow release fertiliser suitable for orchids in spring. From spring through to may you can use liquid fertilisers such as Thrive Orchid Liquid Plant Food or Manutec Orchid Bloom booster while spikes are forming. At other times of the year you can use Manutec Orchid Food.  Alternating with organic fertilisers such as Powerfeed or Charlie carp at any time of the year should give great results. There are many different views on fertilising which you may want to explore, choosing the routine that gives the best results. Watering mid to late afternoon in the hot weather decreases the temperature of the plant which can encourage flowering.






Building A Garden

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The Sedum “Blob” range are a versatile and low maintenance group of plants and are the perfect solution for a small space.sedum crop

There are five great colours to choose from, all with ornamental, fleshy foliage providing year-round interes

t. These plants form a
cushion-like mound, creating a highly textured ground cover which also looks effective spilling between rocks and over rock walls.

These plants prefer a sunny location and well-draining soil. Once established, water sparingly. These plants are succulents

and typically only require watering during extended periods of heat. A slow release fertiliser during spring would be beneficial.

 Suggested Uses.

  • Ground cover or edging for paths/driveways.
  • Rockeries, gravel or dry garden landscapes.
  • Pots/Containers
  • General garden use.




Bare Root Rose

Winter is a great time for planting. Getting plants in the ground at this time of year gives roses plenty of time to establish before the hot summer and the long awaited bare rooted plants are available. During winter, rose that have been field grown are dug up when they’re dormant, and sold, ready for planting. Bare-rooted roses are only available in winter – June, July and August. With so many new varieties of bare root rose available, there is no excuse not to get planting.

See Heynes list for varieties of Rose.

When selecting a bare rooted plant, try to ensure there is no obvious physical damage and look for a good, even structure and also look for good strong graft. Don’t leave the rose sitting round for extended period of time, and remember the roots of these plants need to stay moist from the point when dug out of the ground until planting time. If not planting straight away make sure to keep them moist, not wet.It is most important to NEVER allow the roots to become dry. In Australian bare root rose should be planted over the June to September months and should be in the ground by the time rose bring to “shoot”.



Roses like to be planted in a sunny, open aspect and the soil needs to have good drainage. So select a location where they’ll receive at least six hours of sun and have good drainage.


At planting time it is recommend to prune, because when the rose are dug, the roots are pruned, and for a balanced tree the tops should be pruned to balance the root size. Prune new roses back by one-third in an even manner to an outwards facing bud, make cuts on a sight angle, and use clean secateurs.  Also remove any dead or broken wood.


Dig a hole around twice as wide as the root ball. To allow the rose roots to spread the inside of the hole should have nice, rough edges, to ensure the effective movement of water and air. Thoroughly mix the soil from the hole with plenty of gypsum and some SA compost, then put a good shovel of gypsum into the bottom of the hole and fork in through.


Unpack the bare root rose, remove all packing materials, and carefully untangle the roots. If in sawdust carefully remove most of it. Before planting remove any diseased, or damaged roots.  

Set the rose in the hole and spread the roots out in a natural position. It can help to mound a pile of soil at the base to support the root system. Position the rose so the bud union is above the soil level, its best to plant the rose at the same level as when it was originally in the ground. Back fill the hole, lightly firm the soil, make a well around the base and water in. Also it’s very important to stake standard roses.


Water as needed however do not overwater. Now that bare root roses are in the ground it is important to remember that over watering and mulching roses at this early time will set them back. The soil around the rose should be kept moist but not soggy.

Consistent watering is important in the dry months (summer). Before watering, check the soil if it’s damp, it will be fine.

No need to fertilise until the rose starts growing in spring. (If you feel inclined to, add a small amount of fertilise at time of planting). When summer arrives it is recommend to mulch. 

Phalaenopsis – Moth orchid

A beautiful orchid that will grow and flower quite freely if all its growing conditions are met. With varying shades of white, pink, yellow and green, sometimes striped or spotted they make an excellent gift or magnificent long-lasting display in the home.

Orchid1Growing Conditions

These epiphytic plants are found growing in trees in tropical jungles but will happily grow inside or outside in a purpose built environmentally controlled glasshouse. Creating a glasshouse is for the real enthusiast and needs some research and dedication. By growing the orchids inside on a light airy windowsill, the home gardener can easily create the environment needed for Phalaenopsis. You can create the humidity that the orchids need by placing some gravel in the bottom of a saucer, filling with water and placing the pot on the gravel but not sitting in the water. Of course the higher the temperature the higher the humidity needs to be. At temperatures above 30°c the orchids growth will slow down or stop. Fluctuating temperatures can cause the buds to drop.

Potting Mix and Repotting

Orchid2Choose an open pine bark mix (10-18mm) and repot carefully as the roots can easily be broken. Repot about every 2-3 years by gently removing all the mix from the roots and cutting off any dead or damaged roots. It is quite normal for roots to grow out of the pot. The best time for repotting is just after flowering and before the main growth season in spring and summer. Placing sphagnum moss on top of the pot will aid in water retention especially during the warmer months.


Regular watering is essential for healthy growth. How often depends on the potting media used and the temperature. On average every 3 days in the heat of summer, but if your mix has a lot of sphagnum moss it will need watering less. Phalaenopsis need watering when just starting to dry out but do not like to be constantly wet. With time you will get to know your orchid and its watering needs.


Orchid4Feed weekly during the warmer months with liquid fertilisers recommended for orchids. Once the weather starts to cool you can cut back to every fortnight.






Bare Root Trees

bareroottreeWinter is a great time for planting. Getting plants in the ground at this time of year gives trees plenty of time to establish before the hot summer and the long awaited bare rooted plants are available. During winter, trees that have been field grown are dug up when they’re dormant, and sold, ready for planting. Deciduous bare-rooted fruit and ornamentals trees are only available in winterJune, July and August. With so many new and dwarf varieties of bare rooted trees available, there is no excuse not to get planting.

See Heynes list for varieties of Bare-root Fruit and Ornamental.

When selecting a bare rooted plant, try to ensure there is no obvious physical damage and look for a good, even branch structure. As most fruit and ornamental trees in nursery are grafted also look for a strong graft. Don’t leave the trees sitting round for extended period of time, and remember the roots of these plants need to stay moist from the point when dug out of the ground until planting time. In Australian bare root trees should be planted over the June to September months and should be in the ground by the time trees bring to “shoot”.



At planting time it is recommend to prune, because when the trees are dug, the roots are pruned, and for a balanced tree the tops should be pruned to balance the root size. Trees can be cut back to about 1/3 in an even manner to an outwards face bud, use clean secateurs. To encourage a nice branching habit or vase shape for fruit trees remove the leader.

Dig a hole around twice as wide as the root ball. To allow the trees roots to spread the inside of the hole should have nice, rough edges, to ensure the effective movement of water and air. Thoroughly mix the soil from the hold with plenty of gypsum and some SA compost, then put a good shovel of gypsum into the bottom of the hole and flock in through.Remove any grass within a meter circular area.

Before planting remove any diseased, or even damaged, roots. Spread the roots out in a natural position. It can help to mound a pile of soil at the base to support the root system. Plant the tree at the same level as when it was originally in the ground, at the base. So to help minimize the risk of disease, issues like collar rot. The graft/bud should be above the soil level, the exception bring lilacs.

Back fill the hole, lightly firm the soil, make a well around the base of tree and water in. You’ve planted a bare root tree!


PlantingBareRootWater as needed however do not overwater. Consistent watering is important in the dry months. No need to fertilise until the tree starts growing in spring. (If you feel inclined to, add a small amount of fertilise at time of planting).

If the tree is bit loose or has been planted in high wind area, loosely stake it until the tree is established. Place two stakes in the ground, one both side of the tree well away the root zone and loosely tie the tree to the stakes with a soft tie around the trunk of the tree.



Although they have a limited place in small home gardens, poplars are among the most attractive and useful trees for large scale ornamental and commercial landscape work. They are hardy, quick growing trees with uniform symmetrical outlines and distinct foliage effects.

Columnar varieties make excellent avenues, screens and windbreaks, whilst the broader growing trees provide shade and shelter.

Development work in both breeding and grafting techniques has seen a range of non-suckering trees for almost any commercial landscape application.

P. alba bolleana Medium size tree, columnar in shape. Foliage is dark green with silver reverse, turning bright gold in autumn. Generally resistant to leaf rust. Silver poplars sucker freely and should only be planted where this is not going to cause problems.

P. candicans Balm of Gilead. A medium sized ornamental shade tree with broad green leaves. The swelling buds emit a strong and pleasant balsam fragrance in spring.

P. deltoides “Evergreen Hybrid”:- also known as “W.A. Hybrid”. A beautiful pyramidal shaped tree, with bright green medium sized heart shaped leaves. An excellent tree for windbreaks, screens and avenue planting. Semi-evergreen and generally rust resistant. Highly recommended. (Trees grafted onto non-suckering root stocks are available).

P. deltoids “Cottonwood”:- This recently introduced cottonwood grows quickly into a large, handsome, ornamental shade tree. The heart shaped leaves appear to be completely immune to leaf rust. (Trees grafted onto non-suckering root stocks are available).

P. nigra italica   This well-known Lombardy poplar is the proven quick growing, tall avenue or windbreak tree. Distinctive both in and out of leaf, the golden foliage in autumn is spectacular. Commonly planted around orchards, vineyards and property boundaries, suckering has been a problem in some circumstances. To alleviate this problem we have developed a technique to compatibly graft this tree onto non-suckering root stock. Limited supplies of grafted trees are available this year, however we should be in a position to supply much larger quantities in 2000. Good supplies of non-grafted trees are held.

P. italica “Chile”   This evergreen form of the Lombardy poplar has proven to be rapid growing, hardy, tolerant of heat and strong winds. Large numbers are used as shelter belts around Riverland orchards and vineyards. It is susceptible to leaf rust and is recommended for districts where this is not a problem. Grafted trees only available.

P. serotina aurea  Golden poplar. One of the best known and most beautiful of the poplars. The medium size heart shaped leaves have a golden colour in spring and autumn. The tree is medium to large in size and narrowly pyramidal becoming broader as it matures. It tolerates hot conditions if adequate water is provided. Recommended for areas where leaf rust is not a problem.

P. simonii fastigiata Upright Simon poplar. A columnar to narrowly pyramidal non-suckering tree growing to some 10 metres high and 2-3 metres wide. An excellent tree for avenues, screens, driveways and windbreaks, which has proved hardy in nearly all districts. This is a particularly versatile and useful tree with a very short dormant period.

P. szechuanica tibetica This Chinese tree has been described as the most ornamental of all the poplars. It has very large heart shaped leaves with prominent red veins and leaf stalks. The young foliage is coloured in shades of copper and red. It makes a shapely medium sized tree, and although hardy, is best sheltered from strong winds.

P. x Tasman  This new hybrid has come to us with an excellent reputation. It is a strong grower, upright in habit, and is one of the quickest windbreak providers. The green-gold foliage is beautiful in spring and changes to bright green in summer.

P. yunnanensis Yunnan Poplar. A beautiful medium to large shade tree. It is semi-evergreen in mild climates, is rust resistant and does not sucker. We have no hesitation in recommending this tree for larger properties.

P. x 65/31 Bryant and May. Another new hybrid of exceptional vigour having been bred primarily for timber production. It makes a tall, narrowly pyramidal tree and in commercial plantations has attained a height of 26 metres in 8 years. It is rust resistant, hardy and has shiny dark green foliage. A very good substitute for the Lombardy poplar in areas where rust may be a problem. Trees grafted onto non-suckering root stocks are available.

P. x 74/31 This is a handsome tree of great vigour, columnar to narrowly pyramidal with dense deep green foliage. It appears to be sucker free and the foliage immune to rust. We recommend it for large scale landscape work.

P. x euramericana “Veronese” & P. deltoides x yunnanensis “Kawa”:– Two new hybrids that have been bred in New Zealand as windbreak trees. Both are recommended by the larger Victorian growers, however our first hand experience is limited. P. Veronese appears to be the more vigorous of the two and more upright in habit.



Poisonous Plants

NAME                    TOXIC PART       EFFECTS

Apricots                       Kernels                     Cyanide poisoning

Asparagus Fern          Entire plant               Seizures

Azalea                         Entire plant               Muscle paralysis

Bird of Paradise          Seeds & pods           Vomiting & diarrhoea




ASPECT:  Full sun is best, but good bloom can still be obtained with half a day’s sun. The heavier the shade the less likely they are to flower.

CLIMATE:  Best suited to dry summers and cold to frosty winters. If there is not enough cold then flowers are not initiated and blooming will be poor and on very short stems, even to being right down in the fan. (See State by State headings). High summer rainfall can cause problems with rot.

SOIL TYPE: Bearded Iris prefer a neutral to alkaline well-drained soil, but will grow in acidic soils. A friable, well-drained soil with sufficient nutrients to support growth is best.

WHEN TO PLANT: The best time to plant is immediately after flowering. That is November through till after the end of March. Later planting is acceptable, but the later they are planted, the lower percentage of bloom can be expected the following spring. The Iris experts who grow their Iris for showing have their planting completed by Christmas to give maximum growing time to give quality flower stems.

REPLANTING: The optimum length of time can vary according to climate and soil type. On a light sandy soil around Melbourne they are best replanted every year and again the people who show the blooms usually replant every year. In general garden conditions, two years on a light soil and 3 to 4 years on a heavier soil in a cooler climate should suffice for continual good blooming. An idea to assess the plants after two seasons and select those clumps that are really looking crowded, lift and divide them and the following year lift those remaining. This breaks up the work load and it keeps up a full display.

iris1DEPTH OF PLANTING: Rhizomes need to be planted just at soil level. Make a mound of soil in a small hole, sit the rhizome on top of the mound so the roots hang into the hole, then cover the rhizome and roots with soil.

DISTANCE APART: Planting 10-20cms apart will give you an established clump straight away, but planted further apart is also ok.

CUTTING BACK FOLIAGE: Unless replanting, don’t cut back the foliage in summer. This could result in a 15% reduction in flowering the following year. Just pull away dead foliage.

FERTILISERS: At planting time a slow release, all purpose fertiliser is recommended. The important point about both of these is to ensure they are underneath the rhizomes and not scattered around the plants.

A side dressing in early spring of a rose fertiliser will improve flower quality and colour. Don’t overuse animal manure and blood and bone (nitrogenous fertilisers) as this will promote soft growth and in turn rot and leaf spot and also poor flowering. Organic fertilisers are best used in autum.

WATERING: Water in well on planting, then a good soaking once a week is enough. If they are established, once a week over hot dry periods is ample. Over-watering can also cause soft growth prone to disease.

iris2PESTS AND DISEASES:  Fungal leaf spots can occur, especially if it is too wet. You can remove these leaves, ignore them, or spray with a fungicide. If the position is right they are usually fairly disease free.

Over-watering and over-feeding can make the problem worse so we suggest you do not use animal manure on the soil around the plants and water once a week in dry periods. Rhizome rot can sometimes occur, often in the summer when it is hot and humid. This is often due to over-watering when it is too hot. If the plant looks like it can be saved, cut away the infected part and expose to the sun to dry out. Dry tips can occur over summer due to dryness or salty water. Snails can sometimes attack the leaves.

POT CULTURE: Some of the best Iris are grown in pots. Use pots of at least 10″ diameter, preferably larger. Use the best soil mix available and use the same fertilisers as for planting in garden beds. Put the pots where they get at least half day sun and winter cold. They will need to be watered more often.

Flowering time is usually the same as for Tall Bearded grown in the open garden,mid October through to late November.

CUT FLOWERS: Though they are fairly fragile, they can be used as commercial cut flowers if a little care is taken in picking them in bud 2 or 3 days before they would open and wrapping 2 or 3 stems together in tissue paper and either laying the flat for transport or storing them overnight in water in a cool place.


These irises grow somewhere in between the Tall and dwarf varieties. Cultural directions are the same as for Tall Bearded Iris, but they do tolerate colder conditions. Median Bearded Iris flower from early October and flow through into the early Tall Bearded season. They are more tolerant of exposed sites due to their smaller size.


ASPECT Full sun is essential. Partial sun results in little or no flower.

CLIMATE Some frosty mornings in the winter are essential or there will be a profusion of foliage and no flowers.

SOIL TYPE As long as it affords the plant a good loose root run it does not matter, otherwise it is much the same as for Tall Bearded Iris.

WHEN TO PLANT AND REPLANTING Same as for Tall Bearded types, but in colder climates they may be left in borders for many years with no lessening in bloom. If bloom quantity does diminish, lift and replant after blooming.

iris4DEPTHS OF PLANTING Just cover the rhizome. If too deep it will stop flowering.

DISTANCE APART 25cms to 35cms

FERTILISERS More care should be taken than with Tall Bearded so as not to overproduce foliage with too much nitrogenous manure and too much artificial fertiliser can burn the plants. Fertilise as you would Azaleas. Feed in summer or on replanting and or a light side dressing in August of Azalea food.

WATERING They may require to be watered more often than the Tall Bearded Iris, particularly if planted in light sandy soil that can heat up in summer. Maybe every 4 or 5 days, more often in heat wave conditions. Once established, ease off to once a week.

DISEASES Leaf spot and rust are the main problems. Treat the same as Tall Bearded. Rhizome rot is rarely seen in Dwarf Bearded Iris.

POT CULTURE Dwarf Bearded Iris are particularly well suited to pot culture. Select pots of a diameter of 20 cms or more. If 30cm pots are used, 3 rhizomes can be planted in each to give a massed display. Make sure the pots are in the sun all day and get plenty of winter cold, preferably frost. They may need to be watered more often than the Tall Bearded types, otherwise culture is the same.


ASPECT Full sun or light shade. Dappled sunlight is fine, but too much shade can prevent good flowering in spring. Plant in partial shade in hot climates.

CLIMATE Louisiana Iris come from the southern states of America where it is hot and humid, so they do well in similar areas of Australia, particularly where Tall Bearded will not thrive. They are excellent in Coastal area of NSW and Queensland. They also give wonderful results in and around Perth. They do well in other areas of Australia but maybe not as well in really cold mountainous areas where severe frost is prevalent.

SOIL TYPE They are very heavy feeders and prefer a good rich loam or soil that has had the addition of plenty of humus and compost. They will not tolerate alkaline or limey soil, so the pH level must be below 6.5. For this reason avoid putting too much fowl manure in the soil.

SUITABILITY TO WATER PLANTING Possibly the best Iris for planting in water or boggy conditions as well as normal garden beds. If they are planted around dams, ensure that the soil is rich and not just subsoil left after the dam was excavated.

If they are to be planted in pots, it is best to establish the plants in the pots for a few months first or they may float out of the pot. 1″ of gravel on the surface of the pot may prevent this.

In selecting a potting mix, make it as rich as possible and be considerate of any fish in the pond as artificial fertiliser may not be suitable.

iris6WHEN TO PLANT The best time for planting is after flowering in December through summer and autumn, but as these Iris are basically evergreen, they can be planted at any time; but we suggest it is best to avoid planting just before bloom time which is in October and November.

REPLANTING The same as for Tall Bearded Iris, 1 to 3 years, but because these Iris can be so vigorous, care has to be taken to see that they don’t get mixed as they can easily grow into each other.

DEPTHS OF PLANTING Louisiana iris tend to send their roots to the surface, so it is best to cover the rhizomes with 2cms to 5cms of soil. Also they would benefit from a light mulch in particularly hot areas. This mulch can be bark, leaves or light compost. Avoid lawn clippings as they can get very hot.

FERTILISERS Use plenty of compost, cow manure, or any other suitable soil improver. Also the addition of a long term slow release fertiliser will improve flower quality. Apply on planting and again a side dressing in September of Azalea and Camellia food will give good results.

WATERING They can’t be over-watered. Also once established they are remarkably drought resistant as long as the weeds are kept out of the clumps.

DISEASES Leaf spot and rust seem to be the main problems and the same conditions and preventative measures apply as do for Tall Bearded Iris. However if a plant variety seems to be a continual problem in a bed, plant it somewhere else, or discard it and grow another variety.

POT CULTURE They may be grown in 25 cms pots for best results. Use the best soil available and treat as for Tall Bearded Iris.

CUT FLOWERS They are suitable as cut flowers.


ASPECT Must be in full sun or little or no flowers will result.

CLIMATE Hot dry areas with low summer rainfall are best. If there is a lot of summer rainfall, Mustard Seed fungus can cause rot problems. They also require winter cold, preferably some frost.

SOIL TYPE They like a good rich soil with some depth. Good drainage is important but a moist soil, as long as excess water can drain away, is fine. They are fairly tolerant of pH and do well in sandy soil or clay loam.

WHEN TO PLANT The ideal time is late summer and autumn. They resent being moved and often won’t flower very well in the year after moving. They also usually fall if moved too early as the rhizomes have to mature.

REPLANTING Select a place to plant Spurias where they can stay for 4 or more years, as they will give a good show if left in place as long as they have some annual fertiliser program. They don’t mind being a bit crowded.

DEPTH OF PLANTING Cover with at least 5cms of soil. If they are too near the surface they will not take hold as well and will take extra time to become established until they can pull themselves down.

DISTANCE APART 40cms to 60cms

FERTILISERS On planting use pelletised animal manure and/or Osmocote underneath and a side dressing of balanced fertiliser in spring. Summer dressings of old compost or old animal manure can be applied in later years, taking care to keep it away from the plants. Work it gently into the ground. Generally much the same as for Tall Bearded Iris.

WATERING This is quite important. Spurias have a dormant period over summer, and at this stage they should have little or no water until the growth starts again in autumn. So select a place where water can be withdrawn over summer. Rot can easily result if over-watered.

WINTER JOY Because these Iris have a summer dormancy, they start to grow in autumn and have delightful foliage over winter and early spring and look very effective in a garden setting with dark green sword-like foliage.

DISEASES A little leaf spot is noticeable and is rarely a worry.

CUT FLOWERS Possibly the Iris with the most potential as a cut flower. They flower in November when most other Iris have finished. They can have stems up to 4 ft long for large vases and they are not as fragile as other Iris. Pick in bud 1 or 2 days from opening.


ASPECT Full sun. Less sun will result in less flowering.

CLIMATE Areas with cold winters and some hard regular frosts are best. If frosts are not a climatic feature, then flowering could be poor or the flower stems will be very short.

SOIL TYPE They should have rich soil with plenty of moisture and should not be allowed to dry out. They will grow in quite damp conditions, along creeks, besides ponds etc. but not in standing water.

WHEN TO PLANT Siberian Iris are totally dormant in winter, so they can be moved any time after they have matured in later summer through to August. They don’t like moving much and may not flower well in the first year after planting.

REPLANTING Select a place where they will not have to be moved for 4 or more years. They form tight neat clumps and are not invasive. They generally have to be cut up with a knife or treated as a perennial, rather than as an Iris.

DEPTH OF PLANTING Cover just the crown with no more than an inch of soil.

DISTANCE APART 40cms to 60cms

FERTILISERS They are heavy feeders and prefer organic fertilisers over chemical fertilisers. A light dressing of rose food in spring may improve the quality of bloom. They love compost or cow manure.

WATERING Regular watering is important. Don’t let them dry out like Spurias or Tall Bearded. Good soakings once a week, or more often if necessary, particularly if replanted in summer.

DISEASES Virtually disease free.

POT CULTURE They flower in pots if they are 20cms or more in diameter. Use a good soil mix with plenty of organic matter. Don’t let them dry out and ensure they get plenty of sun and winter frost.

CUT FLOWERS They are in many people’s eyes the most graceful of the Iris and are ideal for cutting and taking inside. Each clump flowers profusely once established, so there are usually plenty to cut and leave a display in the garden. They usually flower after the Tall Bearded are past their peak, so continuity of bloom with Siberians ensures a good supply of flowers to cut.


CULTURE Evergreen Iris that are suitable for semi-shade or morning sun only. Ideal for light woodland landscaping. Protect from heavy frost of more than -5̊ C. They don’t like lime and are heavy feeders. Use organic material and use it as a mulch. Keep the plants well drained but don’t let them dry out. They don’t have to be replanted very often (except for Iris Tectorum) and they can become invasive, but are easy to remove as they are just in the top couple of inches of soil.

IRIS TECTORUM  It seems to do best if replanted each year. It is excellent in a pot, but again repot each season.

IRIS CRISTATA Another Evansia. This is also best if replanted each season. Also it is totally dormant in winter and as it is such a tiny Iris, it needs to be carefully marked in the garden for winter as it could easily be lost in winter gardening, having such small rhizomes.


CULTURE These lovely Iris can be treated in the same way culturally as Siberian Iris with a couple of extra notes.

SOIL TYPE They will not tolerate lime. It will kill them. So make sure the pH is below 6.

SUITABILITY FOR WATER Many publications recommend these Iris for ponds.

They are good in water but precautions have to be taken to ensure they don’t rot in winter. So it is best to remove the pots after the leaves start to brown off in autumn and let the pots be treated as normal pot plants during winter. Repot them at this time and put the pots back into the pond when the leaves start to shoot in September. For quality flowers in pots repot every year.

REPLANTING Japanese Iris are very heavy feeders and we have found that it is best to replant every year or every second year in normal garden beds to keep up the flower quality and quantity.



CULTURE Very tough group of Iris that can be planted at most times of the year. Avoid very hot dry weather. They need little or no attention and can be left in the one place for many years. They enjoy dappled light under trees and grow well in large shadehouses. They must have good drainage. Otherwise, please yourself how they are treated. Pots, borders, features for colour in winter, when there is nothing much flowering.

FOLIAGE They have shiny dark green narrow leaves, and as the flowers have no stem the flower display may be enhanced by cutting back the foliage by about a third in April/May.


Why won’t my Bearded Iris flower?

Non-bloom of Bearded Iris can be caused by a number of factors and usually it is a combination of several factors.

  • Planting in too much shade. They should have at least half day sun, preferably full sun. The Iris need sun and heat in particular during January and February to form flowers for next spring.
  • Letting weeds, perennials or annuals like Petunias cover the rhizomes. This acts much the same as too much shade.
  • Planting too deep. Rhizomes need to be just at soil level.
  • Over-feeding with too much nitrogenous fertilizer. Nitrogenous fertilizers such as blood and bone or animal manure make leaf growth and Iris are grown for bloom, not foliage. Use a balanced fertilizer on planting such as a rose fertilizer. If soil is really poor you can use pelletised animal or poultry manure on planting but make sure it goes underneath. Do not spread it around the plants as it can cause rot and aggravate leaf spot in summer. Do not use any sort of mulch, this will stop bloom and could also cause rot.
  • Over-watering or under-watering can also cause bloom failure due to not enough water to grow well enough to make bloom size rhizomes and over-watering can cause the roots to rot and the same result will occur. Once established a good deep watering once a week is sufficient, maybe more often in a heat wave, but do it in the cool of the evening.

 When is the best time to replant Bearded Iris and how often should it be done?

  • Immediately after blooming is the best time to replant, that is December. This lets the plants have a full season of growth where they are to flower. Iris are best replanted every 2 to 3 years. Many people replant every year, particularly if they are growing for exhibition at shows. If they are not replanted after 3 years, they become very crowded and flowering quality and quantity decline.

How long can rhizomes of Bearded Iris be left out of the ground?

  • The ideal is to replant immediately upon lifting, however they are very tough plants and can be left out of the ground in a cool and dry place for several weeks without much harm. Do not let them get wet or moist. Keep them dry.

All my Iris have turned out to be white (or blue) and all the pretty pink ones have reverted. Why?

  • This cannot happen. What usually occurs is that the white and blue varieties are usually the strongest and smother the other colours not letting them flower. Keep the colours well marked in some way in the garden and you will always know what varieties you have.

My Iris have brown spots on the leaves. What is it?

This is a fungal disease called leaf spot and usually causes no bother except unsightliness. This can be reduced by clean cultivation, making sure no animal manure or compost or other mulch that can break down is around the base of the plants. If severe a fungicide can used.

Should I cut back the Iris after flowering?


T.B.’s Medians Dwarfs Spurias Lousianas Siberians Evansias
Q/land Coastal NO NO NO NO YES NO YES
Q/land Inland e.g. Darling Downs YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
NSW.. North of Newcastle Coastal NO NO NO NO YES NO YES
South Aust. YES YES YES YES Some Areas YES YES
W.A. Perth Area Some Areas Some Areas Some Areas YES YES NO YES
W.A. South & Inland Frosty Areas YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
W.A. Northern Coastal & N.T. NO NO NO NO YES NO YES


hydrangea1Hydrangeas have oval leaves with serrates edges, but they are mainly grown for their flowers. Who can forget the magnificent flowers of the hydrangeas? Whites, reds, pinks, purples, blues and all shades in-between. Flowers heads are created by long-lasting bracts Flat-top (lacecap), rounded (mophead) or conical, that form the backdrop to tiny short lived, true flowers. The bracts can last for months as the weather cools, they will take on shades of antique green and purple.

Hydrangeas grown best in a semi shaded position where they will receive morning sun but be in shade for the afternoon therefore being protected from the hottest part of the day. Keep in mind, Hydrangeas do not like extremely hot conditions. Typically hydrangeas prefer rich, moist soil that drains easily.

Hydrangeas become available from October on and best time to plant out hydrangeas is in spring once the threat of frost has passed. It is a good idea to improve soil before planting by mixing plenty of compost or organic matter. Always water thoroughly after planting.


hydrangea2WATERING: Hydrangeas need regular watering, particularly in late spring and throughout the summer. The most important thing to remember is not to let them dry out, or they will wilt. It is also important to keep hydrangeas well-watered while blooms are forming, because if they dry out at this stage the display will be ruined for the season.

Hydrangeas growing in the ground require a deep soaking once or twice a week, where plants in pots need daily watering when weather is warm. Through you need to keep the watering up to hydrangeas in pots, they make wonderful pot plants, as this allows flexibility of moving them out of the way when they are looking bare in winter.

FLOWER COLOUR: Hydrangeas are amazingly in that the flower color can be altered, according to the acidity or alkalinity (pH) of the soil. Plants grown in acid soil (pH 5 or less) are usually blue, as soil pH heads towards the neutral and alkaline (pH 7 or more) flowers turn mauve, pink and red. White flowering hydrangeas will remain white regardless of soil pH.

pink hydAdd to soil in spring lime (calcium carbonate) to encourage pinkness and aluminium sulfate to promote blue color flowers or fortunately Hydrangea Blueing or Pinking Tonic comes in a ready to mixed pack for your early use.

Begin applications late winter and apply once a month until October following the directions on pack. Ultimate results will be determent by the basic soil pH. But it can be fun to experiment and there are some fascinating in-between shades.

Even if not altering flower color, hydrangeas still need fertilizing. Throughout the growing season feed regularly with liquid fertilizer or with slow release pellets.

PRUNNING: Hydrangeas can be pruned any time after flowering is over, although pruning can be left until mid-winter.If hydrangeas are pruned too fiercely year after year flowering will be reduced, so just cut back the current season’s growth to two plump eyes or leaf buds. Don’t cut back into old grey wood. Leave stems that have not flowered as these will produces the following season’s flowers.

DISEASES: Hydrangeas are prone to fungal diseases like powdery mildew. Pull off and dispose of affected leaves. If the problem is severe, spray with a fungicide. Like Mancozeb pus garden fungicide and miticide.



hydrangeas banner3hydrangea banner



Ferns add a tranquil cool environment to the garden. A great place to sit and unwind from the day’s summer heat. Planted in the right position, ferns can grow well even in Adelaide’s harsh climate. Great for that awkward shady spot in the garden.

Ferns need a rich well-composted soil in a shady spot, with protection from sun, wind and frost. Either under a tree or in a shade house is ideal. A good watering system is essential to give them the growing conditions they need to thrive. It is also a helpful to have an overhead misting system, which keeps the humidity high and therefore stops the fronds from browning during the hot weather. Adding a pond to the fernery not only adds interest but also more humidity into the environment. Mulching is very important to keep the soil moist and the plants roots cool. Ferns like to be planted close together which creates their own micro-climate. There are many ferns that grow well in Adelaide, but if a large area is to be planted out you can use other tropical plants like Aralias and Philodendrons. Fertilise regularly in the warmer months using a specific fern fertiliser or use other fertilisers at half the recommended dose.


Ferns in hanging baskets add a real taste of the tropics to your outdoor areas. There are many types of hanging baskets on the markets, from decorative wire baskets to plastic and self-watering hanging baskets. Wire baskets while looking great do dry out very quickly and will need to be watered several times a day during the hot weather. Plastic baskets protect the soil from drying out as quickly, and self-watering baskets keep the plants roots moist for longer still. On really hot windy days you may need to put the baskets on the ground in protected spot. A dripper system set up in your hanging baskets will alleviate the headache of trying to keep the plants well-watered while you are away from home. Hangers can be submerged to the top of the basket in a large container of water to rewet the potting mix, which can become non-wetting. Do this once a week or as needed, remembering they will be quite heavy once rewet, so leave to drain before trying to hang up.


Given the right conditions, ferns can do well inside. Bathrooms and kitchens are great spots because of the higher humidity in these areas. Ferns, like most plants, do not like our heating or cooling systems. Therefore it is important to keep the humidity up to them to maintain a healthy, lush, disease free plant. A saucer filled with pebbles and water is a great spot to place your fern for extra humidity. If possible it is always a good idea to spell your plants outside in a shady protected environment.





A well set up shade house can be a wonderful addition to the garden giving many hours of pleasure. With good watering and misting you can create a lush tranquil space to enjoy. Shade cloth needs to be green, 70-80% for best protection from the harsh summer sun.



Potato “The Humble Spud”

potatoes2Potatoes are easy to grow and are a staple crop in many countries. With lots of varieties available it’s important to know that not all potatoes are the same. Some are right for mashing while others fabulous for baking, steaming, microwaving and then there are those that make the perfect chip. Here a rundown of the most common varieties of spuds and how to use them.

Variety Description Boiling/Salad Mashing Baking Roasting Chips
Coliban Round, white skin, white flesh, floury Average Good Excellent Average Good
Desiree Long, red skin, yellow flesh, creamy Good Good Average Good Poor
Dutch Cream Oval, yellow skin, yellow flesh, creamy Excellent Good Good Excellent Good
Fir Apple Long, pale pink skin, cream flesh, waxy Excellent Good Good Excellent Excellent
Kennebec Round, white/thin skin, white flesh, floury Poor Good Good Good Excellent
King Edward Oval, white & pink skin, white flesh, fluffy Poor Good Excellent Excellent Average
Kipfler Long, yellow skin, yellow flesh, waxy Excellent Poor Average Good Poor
Nicola Long/oval, yellow skin, yellow flesh, waxy Good Good Good Good Average
Pontiac Round, red skin, white flesh, creamy Good Excellent Good Good Poor
Royal Bule Long/oval, purple skin, yellow flesh, sweet Good Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Ruby Lou Oval, pink skin, cream/white flesh, creamy Excellent Good Good Good Good
Sebago Oval, cream skin, white flesh, floury Good Excellent Good Good Poor


Potatoes3Seed Potatoes are available for purchase from June/July, these are the best way to go as they are guaranteed to be virus free. It’s possibly to grow potatoes in many months of the year, depending on whether the garden receives frost, as potatoes are frost-tender. Potatoes can be planted in late winter through to early spring, shortly before last frost is expected.  Although planting can be continued into summer the risk of pest and disease increases.

Before planting put seed potatoes into a well lit (out of sunlight) spot for a few weeks to shoot. Seed Potatoes can be cut in half or small piece to increase the number of plants. If cutting into smaller pieces, leave plenty of flesh with each eye and allow the cuts to dry for 24 hours before planting, as cutting into small pieces can increase the risk of rot.

Potatoes prefer a sunny position with fertile, well-drained, acidic soil with a pH less than 6. They will not thrive in heavy clay or a lime soil. Prepare the potato bed with some compost and some Dynamic Lifter or Rapid Raiser.

Plant seed potatoes 10 cm deep, space 30 cm apart and then cover with a mulch about 30 cm deep to retain moisture and protect tubers from light. New shoots will appear in 2-3 weeks and require mounding which will encourage formation of new tubers. Straw mulch can be used for mounding. Give the plants another dressing of Blood and Bone, Dynamic Lifter or Rapid Raiser pellets in early summer.

There are many different ways to grow potatoes, traditional hilling, deep mulch, containers, potato bags and a no-dig garden. Choose the method that suits your garden area the best as success can be had no matter which way you go.

Potatoes usually take three to four months to mature, depending on the variety.  They are ready for harvesting when the majority of the top have withered.  Early potatoes may be dug by hand by carefully digging beneath the plant for table use at any time, but for storage the potatoes should be fully mature. Once dug, dry as quickly, and then store in a cool, dark, dry place. As exposure to light will turn the potatoes green; green potatoes are poisonous and should ever be eaten.



The plants are not difficult to grow and will thrive under a variety of conditions. With proper care your rhubarb will provided a tasty and ornamental addition to the vegetable garden. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous and should NEVER be eaten.

Rhubarb can be grown by seed, or with seedlings. If growing them this way then after planting leave for about two or three years. Do not pick any of the crop, just let it grow naturally. So plants develop a strong root system.

The other way to grow them and usually the most popular method is buying a crown. Rhubarb crowns are available for purchase and planting winter through to early spring starting from around May onwards.

Rhubarb like a sunny to part sun position. Prepare the Rhubarb bed with some compost and some Blood and Bone, Dynamic Lifter or Rapid Raiser.  To plant the crown you will need to dig hole or a trench if planting larger numbers. For each crown make a little mound, at the bottom of the hole/trench. Sit the crown nicely on top of the mound. Plant about 1-1.5m apart. In areas where there is extreme hot or cold conditions plant the roots with the crown bud 5 cm below the surface of the soil. In areas with mild temperatures all year round then only place 1 cm of soil to cover the top of the crown. Firm the soil, but keep it loose over the buds. Water well once planted. As the plants grow feed regularly.

Keep Rhubarb well-watered but make sure it has good drainage. Rhubarb likes a fair amount of moisture around its roots during the warmer months, but it definitely will not survive in boggy conditions. The soil should be well-drained, especially to get them through the winter. Young plants are prone to rotting off.

When watering apply water at the base of the plant, never directly over its leaves or stems as rhubarb stems are prone to rots and rusts. If you cannot find an ideal position why do try some in a pot.

Snails and slugs love Rhubarb! So keep your eye out for them.

Don’t harvest the first year so to allow crown to develop a strong root system. As the clumps develop, pick more heavily about every six weeks or so should be often enough. When harvesting Rhubarb, pull the largest stalks cleanly downwards and sideways from the outside of the clump and always leave at least four stems in the centre of the clump as Rhubarb needs some leaves to keep its food factory functioning. If Rhubarb leaves are not red enough for your liking, try adding some extra potassium (potash).

Don’t worry if the Rhubarb stems, are green and not red as some plants will stay green even in good soils. Mark out the red stem areas before winter and when you divide the crowns only plant back the pieces which produce red stems.

Rhubarb really benefit from being lifted out of the ground and divided up into pieces and should be done every few years. Late winter and early spring are the best times for dividing. Select the best parts of the clump for replanting and discard the rest. The strongest pieces can be planted back into the same garden bed or a new position in a sunny or lightly shaded place. Before planting dig plenty of organic matter into the area and mix some Rapid Raiser or Dynamic lifter into the soil.








Citrus are the most popular fruit bearing plants grown in Australia. Glossy green foliage, white scented flowers and colourful great tasking fruit make these trees a must for every back yard. Citrus trees are not only practical but make great ornamental and container growing trees. Citrus trees are all very easy to grow and will thrive under a variety of conditions. With proper care citrus will provided an abundance of fruit that can be left on the tree for long periods.

The best time to plant citrus is in the spring and autumn. When it comes to planting, select the site carefully, keeping in mind all heat and frost protection requirements.

Citrus love sunshine, they prefer open warm sunning position, receiving full sun for about 4-6 hours. Through most citrus will tolerate light frost, a position perfected from frost is advisable as frost can damage young blossom bearing shoots. Shelter from strong cooling winds is important as this can damage young growth, blossom and developing fruit.

Citrus preferred a light, well drainage soil, good drainage is vital for citrus as they are susceptible to rootrot. Citrus are heavy feeders and require a deep, friable, rich soil that is well prepared before planting.If you have a heavy, clay soil, you’ll need to dig in plenty of gypsum and S.A Compost. As trees can often struggle in heavy clay soil unless good soil preparing has been provided. Avoid planting in low lying areas that retain run-off in the winter months.

WATERING: Citrus are not deep rooted trees, regular watering is required, care must be taken to ensure they have adequate watering during hot summer months. Do not over water citrus trees. Good deep soaking once or twice a week, instead of small daily watering is much more beneficial for citrus when weather is warm. As weather cools down it’s important to back off on watering as citrus don’t like to have wet roots or their roots sitting in water for longer periods of time.

MULCH: When mulching citrus, only mulch in late spring to conserve moisture during hot summer months. Care must be taken not to build up mulch around trunk of trees as this may cause collar rot. It is advisable to remove mulch back from citrus over winter months, so to let them dry out and let sun warm soil. Lawn and citrus don’t mix, do not under plant citrus with lawn or plants.

FERTILISER: Like most plants, citrus trees need foods which contain essential nutrients for healthy green foliage and large juicy fruit. It is recommended when fertilising lemons, oranges, grapefruit, mandarins, limes and cumquats etc, to use a Fruit and Citrus Fertiliser. Spread the fertiliser 30 cm away from the trunk covering the whole area outwards to the edge of the foliage drip line (where the foliage ends). Water the fertiliser immediately into the ground after application.  NEVER apply more than is recommended.

PRUNNING: In general citrus need little or no pruning; there is no need to prune or trainee to particular shape. Citrus will naturally grow into bushy trees, however trees will be healthier, easier to manage and produce more reliable crops over the trees produced life, if trainee, shaped, and pruned. Citrus can be train to vase shape with well-placed main braches or to any shape you like. Why not have a go at espalier one, if you’re limited on space. Always prune out any dead, damage or disease branches, citrus can tolerate heavy cutting back if required. After harvest, in early spring is the best time to prune, or in late winter.

LIMITED AREA: Don’t have the room for a large tree? Short on space, try growing one in a pot or try your hard at espaliering.

As long as theirs a sunny position it’s possible to grow citrus in a pot, but be aware they need constant care, feeding and watering to produce a healthy crop. All that’s need is a good size pot, Half wine barrels (or pots of a similar size) and quality potting mix.

Espalier a citrus. This way trees provide an evergreen screen, but don’t encroach on the garden. There are many different ways to espalier a tree, the main objected is to grown one flat against a wall or fence. Plant citrus at about 1.5m intervals, and about 30 centimetres from fence or wall. Tie the stems to horizontal wires along fence, place wire about 20 centimetres apart.



antsAnts run up and down the citrus trees, they are a secondary problems arising from another pest problem. The presence of ants is usually an indication that there is a Scale or Aphid problem. The Ants feed from the sticky exudate of the Scale and Aphids.

Control Methods: Control the scale or aphids and the ants will disappear.


aphidsAphids are small, soft-bodied insects, there are many different species of aphids which vary in color from green to yellow and black. Aphids often cluster on new young shoots and flower buds or underneath older leaves, particularly in spring and autumn. Buds may fail to open and leaves are twisted and distorted. New growth may be stunted. Aphids also transmit virus diseases.

Control Methods: Spray for aphids on citrus, but sprays that enter the plant and move in the sap are unsuitable. Spray with pyrethrum sprays or horticulture oils, like Pest oil, white oil or eco-oil.Also natural predators such as ladybirds and parasitic wasps will control numbers.



There are two main groups of scale insects, both of which spend most of their lives as immobile adults, sucking the sap from stalks, leaves and stems. Hard scale and Soft scale are usually found on the mid-rib of leaves and stalks of citrus. Scale can cause death of stems if infestation is heavy. Again, spring and autumn are the usual seasons when these are more prevalent.

Control Methods: Spray with horticulture oils, like Pest oil, white oil or eco-oil, making sure to cover the insects. If there are only small number it may be possible remove them by hand.



Sooty mouldSooty moulds are black and dry and look just like soot.Sooty moulds are a secondary problems arising from another pest problem.  Insects such as aphids and scales produce “honeydew” and where this substance falls provides an environment on which sooty mould can grow. Sooty moulds don’t directly damage but if it’s very thick or remains for a long time it may reduce photosynthesise.

Control Methods: Removing the source of the honeydew will usually solve the sooty mould problem. Control the insects like sales and aphids.


This insect is native to Australia; its host is the native finger lime, but has adapted to wider variety of citrus fruits.  Around September the wasp lays eggs into the soft new growth. The larvae grown within the soft stem for 9-12months , as the larvae develop, unsightly galls appear on the trees and gradually increase in size as the larva grow, gall are full-size by autumn. From mid-September to early November the adult wasps emerges from infested galls leaving small exit holes and live for about a week. Wraps are poor flyers so tend to re-fest the same tree, but can be move around by wind to nearby trees. Galls cannot be ‘cured’ or reversed.  Developing galls need to be removed cut out; therefore citrus gall is more damaging to younger citrus trees than older trees.

Plants Affected: All citrus especially lemons and limes. As well as the native Finger Lime.

Control Methods: Controlling citrus gall wasp can be difficult, there is not cure but damage can be minimized by:

  • Remove/cut out all new galls that don’t show signs of exit holes before August.
  • Destroying all infected stems by burning or bagging.
  • Hanging yellow sticky traps inside infected trees from mid-August to trap any emerging adult wasps.
  • Avoiding high nitrogen fertilizer in spring as this promotes soft sappy growth, perfect for the egg laying stage. Instead fertilizing trees in late autumn and early winter, so to reduce soft growth in spring time when gall wasp is around.


leafminerThe adults of this pest is a small moth, it is silvery-white in colour with fringed wings.  The moth lay eggs along the midrib of young leaves. Larvae are pale-green and difficult to see, they tunnel into the leaf and as they eat leaving silver trails over the leaves. The larvae are the damaging stage, attacking the young growth flush and causing leaves to twist and curl.

Plants Affected: All citrus varieties. New growth only affected, once leaves have hardened, they are resistant to leafminer attack.

Control Methods: Control of leaf minter can be hard as larvae are shielded within the leaf. But reduction of infestation can be achieved by:

  • Remove leaves that show signs of citrus leaf minter.
  • Spray horticultural oils to reduce numbers of egg laying. Moths avoid surface sprayed with oils. Two or more sprays may be required.
  • Reduce infestations by limiting production of new leaves when leafminer numbers are highest: Prune growth flushes. Fertilize in late winter to promote strong spring growth when the leafminer numbers are low.


irondeficIron deficiencies are quite common in our lime rich soils, therefore the term ‘lime induced chlorosis. Young leaves are affected first, leaves appear light green, pale yellow or even white, while the veins remain quite green. New growth appears normal in mild cases, but in severe cases leaves may be smaller and dieback may occur. Also fruit crop yield will be reduced.

Control Methods: Foliage applications of iron in the chelate form in a solution to the soil around the plants or to the foliage.


Strong winds can effectively damage citrus trees. The wind can bashes new leaves against branches, which causes some cell damage.  Damage caused to leaves means a reduction in photosynthesis, therefore a reduction in the amount of sugars needed for maintenance of the tree for fruit production.

There is no real control for wind damage. When planting choose an area not exposed to strong winds.


zincZinc deficiently is first noticeable on the young leaves of the plant; the leaves appear small and grow close together. Also leaf tissue between the main veins will become mottled yellow.  In extreme cases of zine deficit, dieback and increased production of small, weak twigs will occur. Citrus trees suffering deficiency in zinc will certainly follow with a decline in the yield. In light, sandy soil zinc is leached out. In soils with high organic matter lime content zinc is present but unavailable to the plant.

Control Methods:Zinc is not very mobile in the plant so a foliage cover spray is essential to enhance fruit set. Zinc sprays should be applied prior to fruit set for maximum benefit. Also add urea as it will make uptake of zinc more efficient and supply extra nitrogen.


Citrus leaves can turn yellow for a number of reasons wet or cold temperatures, lack of feeding and deficiencies.

Cold weather can cause citrus leaves to curl. Cold can cause the tissue in the leaves to dry out leaving a burnt appearance. If possible, cover citrus trees if you expect a freeze.

Sunburn can leave yellow or brown leathery spots on the fruit and leaves, likely on the south and west sides of the tree. Too much heat can cause leaves to curl.

Overwatering is another common cause of unhealthy looking leaves. Too much water can cause leaves to curl, turn yellow, and drop. If you suspect overwatering, reduce your watering schedule and look for signs of improvements. Also make sure your tree has proper drainage and there is no mulch around the trees.


Garden Clubs and Societies



PO Box 10104, Gouger Street BC, Adelaide, South Australia 5000
Monthly Meetings are held on the third Friday of each month (except December) at 7.30 pm at the Western Youth Centre, 79 Marion Road Cowandilla SA


Monthly Meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month (except December) at 10.00am at the Western Youth Centre, 79 Marion Road Cowandilla SA
Secretary: Eva Warwick
Membership Secretary: Joy King
President: John Gay


Fern Society by Email Information:

Postal Address:
Fern Society of South Australia Inc.
GPO Box 711 Adelaide,  South Australia 5001
We meet on the fourth Friday of each month (except December) at the Adelaide High School Auditorium, West Terrace, corner Hilton Road, Adelaide.


Meetings are held monthly on the first Monday of each month commencing at 7:45pm.
Community Hall
Corner of North East Road and Wellington Streets
Klemzig, SA
0414 469 269


Meetings of the Society are held on the 1st Tuesday of each month at 7.15 pm with the exception of July and December.
Location for the monthly meeting is:
Prospect Town Hall Complex
128 Prospect Road, Prospect
(access from Olive or Vine Streets)


32-34 Rosa St Goodwood, SA 5034
08 8280 7338
PO Box 355 Highgate, SA 5063
4th Tues 7.30am
Wheelchair access, Disability toilets, Disability parking


Corner Myall Avenue & Standen Street (PO Box 652), Murray Bridge, South Australia 5253
Meet in the Seventh Day Adventist Hall, corner of Myall Ave & Standen St Murray Bridge on the 4th Sunday of every month at 1.45. No meeting in December.
(08) 8276 5558


MEETINGS:- Monthly 2nd Thurs 8pm (except January)
Beginners forum 7.15pm at Elderly Centre, 37 Fourteenth St, Gawler South


Modbury Uniting Church
572-576 Montague Rd
Modbury 5092
Phone: 8263 9298
MEETINGS are held on the first Monday of each month except January at the Uniting Church Hall, Montague Road, Modbury North, South Australia, opposite the Tea Tree Gully Council Chambers. Doors open at 7.30pm. Meetings start at 8.00pm


Lutheran Church Hall 6 Aldersey St McLaren Vale, SA 5171 Australia
08 8323 7742 Chris McComas
0419 532 545
PO Box 136 Willunga, SA 5172 Australia
Meetings: 2nd Thurs 7.30pm
Access: Wheelchair access, Disability toilets, Disability parking


Monthly Meetings
Club Meetings and Workshops are held at the
Goodwood Community Centre, 32a Rosa Street, Goodwood
Phone: 0403883269
Club Meetings: are held on the first Tuesday of the month, commencing 8.00pm.


The Australasian Carnivorous Plant Society is a non-profit organisation formed in December 2002 to promote the cultivation, conservation and knowledge about carnivorous plants


Members and General Public are most welcome at our monthly meeting held at the Burnside City Uniting Church, Portrush Road, Tusmore on the second Wednesday of the month at 7.45pm (excepting December and January)


Meetings will be held at the Burnside Community Centre, 401 Greenhill Road,
Tusmore, corner of Portrush Road, behind Burnside Town Hall, starting at 7:45pm.

Contact Jenny Meacham
PO Box 659
Nairne SA 5252
(08) 8388 6583


Meetings are held monthly on the fourth Tuesday of each month (except December and January)
8.00pm , at St Matthews Hall, Bridge Street, Kensington.

Native Orchid Society of South Australia
PO Box 565 Unley SA 5061

Pond Plants Care and Maintenance

Planting Guide

Just as all garden plants require different growing conditions, so do water plants. There are plants that prefer to float on the water, plants that will happily grow quite deep, and many others that grow somewhere in between. A good rule of thumb is to aim for about 50% coverage of the water surface with plants.

A well designed water garden will include (where pond size allows), plants that will grow happily in all depths. This will make it easier to reach a good balance in your pond which in turn decreases any problems you may have. If adding fish be sure to only add the correct number for the pond size, and don’t overfeed as this will add too many nutrients to the water.

 The Different Planting Depths

  • Floating plants do just that, float freely on the water surface. They offer shelter, breeding habitat and food for fish. Will shade the pond and help prevent algal growth.
  • Bog plants grow around the margins of the pond and will tolerate seasonal flooding, catch excess rainfall and prevent erosion around the pond edges. This in turn will protect the edges from damage by cats or dogs. They can attract and harbor wildlife to the pond, such as lizards, birds and frogs.
  • Marginal plants grow in shallow water to a depth of about 20cms. Not only do they make the edges of the pond more attractive and hide unsightly wiring, they can also offer shelter for fish and frogs. Also a good plant choice for shallow pots.
  • These plants grow with their foliage totally submerged at a depth of 20-40cms. They play an important role in water clarity by oxygenating and removing toxic elements from the water. Some plants will also have foliage above the water providing shade keeping the water cooler and decreasing algal problems. They can provide shelter for aquatic life to spawn, protection from external predators and even protect the smaller fish from the larger fish.
  • Deeper growing plants greater than 40cms, provide shade for the water surface, help reduce evaporation and shelter aquatic life from predators. They can also improve water quality through oxygenating, filtering and consuming nutrients.

Soil for potting

Ideally soils should be not too clayey and not too sandy, but rather a good mix. A clay loam will do, especially if you know it grows great veges. Just dig the soil from your garden as long as you know it is not contaminated. Alternatively aquatic mixes are available commercially.

Pond Maintenance and Cleaning

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your pond will reduce the occurrence of murky water, algal growth and dead fish. Removing any dead foliage and windblown debris on a regular basis will minimise the workload and result in a healthier more vibrant pond. Ponds under or near a deciduous tree will need the fallen leaves removed in autumn before they fall to the bottom of the pond. As the temperature warms up in spring these decomposing leaves release large amounts of nutrients into the water which in turn can promote algal growth.

Plants should be fertilised as they start to put on new growth in spring. Pond fertiliser tablets are available, but be careful not to over fertilise as this can add nutrient overload to the water and encourage algae. Make a hole in the soil with your finger, pop the tablet in and cover with soil.

A healthy balanced pond should need only occasional water changes. Spring is a good time for this, removing about 25% of water only. Your pond contains many beneficial organisms so you do not want to upset the balance by removing too much water. Spring is also a good time to replenish your supply of plants to reach 50% cover of the pond. Each pond is unique and for this reason the time it takes to achieve a healthy balance can vary, anywhere up to a year.

Check and clean any filters you may have in your pond. A healthy pond with the right balance of plants and fish can be maintained without the use of pumps. Larger ponds can be easier to maintain than smaller ones.



Strawberry Runners


To prepare for strawberries give the soil a good work over with the addition of well-rotted cow manure and compost. Strawberries are one of the first fruits to blossom, the flowers and fruit are small they can easily be damaged by frost, so they must be planted in a frost free position. They are best planted in a warm north easterly position.

StrawberryRunners3Strawberries will not grow in waterlogged clay soils, so it is important that the soil is friable. To help break up heavy soil, mix in some gypsum and compost when you are first preparing the garden bed. Raise the soil in long mounds so that the strawberry plant’s root system is at least 4 to 6 inches above the natural ground level and 30cm apart.

Never plant in ground where Tomatoes or Potatoes were previously grown, because of the susceptibility of strawberries to Verticillium Wilt Disease, which is often carried over in the soil in which these crops were grown.

Water is the most important factor in growing large, juicy, sweet tasting strawberries.

Place a mulch of pea straw around the base of the strawberry plants to help keep the moisture in the ground, control the weeds and keep the fruit from laying directly on the soil.

Alternatively strawberry plants can be planted through black plastic. This reduces both weeds and watering while keeping the fruit clean. For small gardens strawberries can be grown in baskets and tubs. For best results use a premium potting mix and liquid feeding after plants are established. Strawberries need to be harvested regularly every 3-4 days as this enables new fruit to develop to full maturity. At the end of fruiting, trim of old leaves and clean up any mouldy fruit still attached.




asparagus4Asparagus officinalis is a perennial in the lily family and it lives for up to 30 years.

There are male and female Asparagus plants. The males have better quality spears and the females produce little red berries in autumn. The plants are not difficult to grow and will thrive under a variety of conditions. With proper care your asparagus bed should produce for 15 years or more.


Asparagus are heavy feeders and require a deep, friable, rich soil that is well prepared before planting.If you have a heavy, clay soil, you’ll need to dig in plenty of gypsum and S.A Compost. Asparagus is very hungry and need plenty of organic matter such as cow manure, sheep manure, or such products as Rapid Raiser or Dynamic Lifter.

Asparagus can be grown by seed, or with seedlings. If you do grow them that way then after planting leave for about two or three years for a strong root system to develop. You must not pick any of the crop, just let it grow naturally.

The other way to grow them and usually the most popular method is buying a Asparagus crown, with its long fleshy roots. The crown of the Asparagus is where the spears will grow. Asparagus crowns are available for purchase and planting winter through to early spring starting from around May onwards.

asparagus1 To plant the crown you will need to dig hole or a trench if planting larger numbers. For each crown make a little mound, at the bottom of the hole/trench. Sit the roots of the crown nicely on top of the mound. Plant about 40cm apart. Water well once planted. Then in spring, little shoots will appear, at this time you can side and top dress with blood and bone. They can of course also been grown in very large pots .

When can I Harvest you ask? The crown and root system must be allowed to develop for one year before harvesting begins. Your may be tempted to do some harvesting the first year after planting, but bear in mind that removing spears will result in stress that will weaken your plants. Asparagus can be harvested for a 2- 3 week period the second year after planting. During the third, fourth and subsequent years, a full cutting season of 6 to 10 weeks are permissible. 

AsparagusIt is not advisable to continue cutting well-established asparagus plants after the end of December in any year. During the cutting period, the plant draws on food reserves stored in the root system during the previous growing season. The top-growth must be allowed to develop after December in order to replace the food stores in the fleshy roots. Cutting is best done with a sharp knife that is pushed into the ground so that it severs the spear about 2 1/2 cm (1 in.) below ground.

Apart from slugs and snails in spring asparagus has very few pests and diseases.

Once the plants are around the 3 to 4 years old you should find they go yellow in autumn and that’s the time to cut them back to ground level. The Asparagus bed will be bare until spring, and then those lovely spears of Asparagus will pop up back up in your garden.

Asparagus is high in potassium, great for fibre, low in salt, and a terrific, healthy vegetable to grow. There is nothing nicer than growing your own crop and taking it fresh to the table.


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