Home' Smart Farmer : May 2012 Contents May 2012
twigs too. Prune-out any other dead
wood on shrubs and trees and spray
with lime sulfur after leaves have
fallen. Tidy-up pruning of green,
leafy material should be as light as
possible because there's no point
stimulating growth this time of year.
Check indoor plants for signs of
pests and diseases. Remove scale
and mealy bugs by hand where pos-
sible. If necessary, take the plant out-
side in the shade and spray with
Confidor. Allow the plant to dry off
and make sure you bring it in before
nightfall. Scale insects on potted
palms can be treated with conve-
nient Confidor tablets.
Prepare soil for winter plantings
by mixing-in bulky organic matter
such as compost. Sandy soil may
need more organic matter while clay
soils can more workable with gyp-
Plant of the month
Tree begonias fit beautifully into
those semi-shaded difficult spots
against a wall or beneath large
trees. Their upright, caney
growth, coloured leaves and
bunches of flowers ensure a
long-lasting display. Cut back at the
end of winter and spray out any
powdery mildew which they are
Chrysanthemums light up rooms
It is fair to say that chrysanthe-
mums have faded a little in popular-
ity. They used to be grown
extensively in gardens but are most
often seen as an indoor flowering
plant these days.
One thing hasn't changed, though.
Chrysanthemums -- in this case, the
potted varieties -- are still associated
with Mother's Day. By happy chance,
their long name ends in 'mum' and
their flowering coincides with
Chrysanthemums flower in
autumn because their blooming is
triggered by shortening days. We're
all aware that flowering can be
affected by temperature but it's less
well known that light levels play an
important role too. This means that
chrysanthemums in glasshouses can
be manipulated to flower on cue.
For most people, their initial
experience with a chrysanthemum
will be as a potted indoor plant.
Keep the pot in a well-lit position
and regularly remove dead flowers
and leaves. Water at the base so that
the leaves stay as dry as possible.
With just the basic care, chrysan-
themums can last for years.
While you keep an eye out for
snails and slugs, watch out for
aphids as well. White rust is a par-
ticularly nasty disease that has come
into Australia recently. And don't
forget to control powdery mildew -
another fungal disease that often
With just the basic care,
chrysanthemums can last for years.
AUTUMN is renowned as the planting
season for spring-flowering bulbs such
as daffodils, hyacinths and tulips but,
as winter approaches, later-flowering
bulbs such as liliums become avail-
Lilium bulbs don't have the familiar
protective 'skin' we see on daffodils or
onions and are vulnerable to drying-
Most people are familiar with lili-
ums -- they're regularly seen in cut
flower arrangements. But because
they look so stately and perfect, many
gardeners don't realise how easy lili-
ums are to grow.
They are available in packages or
from specialist growers. If you opt for
packaged bulbs, buy them as early as
possible while they are still in good
condition and plant them straight
Liliums can be grown in pots filled
with quality potting mix or in a pre-
prepared garden bed. Choose a spot
with well-drained soil. Small amounts
of old cow manure -- never fresh
manure -- will improve organic con-
tent of soil.
When planting, allow at least 10
centermertres above the bulb, and
keep the soil moist.
Watch out for snails and slugs --
they love the new growth.
Liliums fall into a few distinct
groups. Trumpet liliums have graceful,
bell-shaped flowers that hang from
the top of upright stems. Some of the
best known are wildflowers such as
pure white Lilium longiflorum.
Asiatic liliums are hardy growers
that bloom in late spring or early sum-
mer. There are also some relatively
new crosses between Asiatics and
Christmas lilies known as LA lilies.
The biggest, showiest and most
flamboyant lilies are later-flowering
Orientals. Their highly perfumed, large
blooms can be so heavy that it's best
to plant them in a wind-protected
spot and, if necessary, stake them to
support top-heavy stems.
Liliums make superb cut flowers --
take care to avoid the staining pollen
-- but don't forget to continue fertilis-
ing the plants after the flowers have
• Need to know more?
Judy Horton 02 9794 9481 or
Get ready for lilium bulbs
For many years, Yates has been con-
ducting 'Ask the Experts' sessions at
the Melbourne International Flower &
Garden Show. Gardeners get an oppor-
tunity to find solutions to problems
they deal with. Here are some exam-
ples of this year's questions:
• Why didn't my crepe myrtle
flower well this year?
Crepe myrtles love heat and the
cooler temperatures this year have
reduced flowering. They flower on new
wood so winter pruning will encour-
age more blooming.
• I have little white specks all
over the stems of my roses.
What are they?
These specks are caused by rose
scale, a sap-sucking pest that attaches
itself to the main stem of the rose.
Pest numbers build up over the years
and become more damaging.
Zealand pittosporums and, even
though we've had lots of rain
this year, some of them are
dying. I have clay soil. What is
Pittosporums are prone to suffering
from root rot disease which is more
likely to occur in periods of wet weath-
er, especially in heavy, clay soils. You
may be better off replacing them with
inundation-tolerant plants such as bot-
Experts share ideas on rain drops, roses
Many gardeners don't realise that
the stately looking liliums are easy
Beware of rose scale, a sap-sucking pest that attaches itself to the main
stem of a rose plant.
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