Too hot for poppies

IT is hard to believe we are about to experience the second month of autumn, as it is still quite warm and humid, which definitely affects the garden.

For example, pansies hate the heat. They survive, but they don't perform. Their flowers remain small and refuse to develop until the weather cools.

We have at least had some rain, making it ideal to take advantage of the growing time still available until the cold of winter arrives.

April is a delightful month for gardening. It's not too hot for serious digging. Remove old summer annuals and prepare beds for autumn planting by adding poultry manure.

I have been getting requests for poppies, but it really has been too hot and humid. Traditionally, poppies are planted out on Anzac Day when the weather is cooler.

Prepare beds at least one week before planting and add lime.

This year, because of the prolonged dry summer the lawn pests have wrecked havoc, not only army grub, but black beetles as well.

Still keep treating lawns with brown patches every 10 days and water Seasol over damaged areas regularly to stimulate root growth.

It will also be invaluable to apply a light amount of lawn top dressing to these areas, running slightly into grass that is still green to encourage the healthy lawn to fill the gaps.

I am surprised to see deciduous trees dropping some leaves already, probably because the nights are cooling.

Remember that deciduous trees only drop leaves once a year and they are a valuable source of mulch.

If you don't want to use the leaves for compost, leave them where they fall to decompose under the tree that gave them life.

Bulbs should be now in the fridge's crisper, ready for planting before May. Don't forget to plant in bulb fibre and fertilise when planting.

April is an ideal time to divide agapanthus, clivia, iris and violets. When cultivating, by division always apply a liquid fertiliser after replanting to stimulate new growth.

Sasanqua camellias are beginning to flower. They are hardy and ideal for full sun or shade, but keep an eye on them, as some plants are displaying faded leaves that can mean red spider mite is attacking.

Finally, consider whether indoor plants need repotting. April is the time, then fertilise with a slow release fertiliser.

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