This week benefits from the Early Waxing Moon Cycle as the Moon begins to ascend (moves higher in the sky each evening) in Southern Hemisphere skies. The Moon reaches its First Quarter 12 June. The Full Waxing Moon Cycle follows as the Moon continues to ascend toward Full Moon 20 June. This sometimes pushes milder air from the subtropics toward New Zealand that often produce westerly winds. This might moderate the Early Winter weather in milder climate zones but will probably produce lashings of wintry conditions in all colder regions and those exposed to cold roaring 40’s westerly winds.
Early Winter Planting
Make final plantings of Spring-flowering bulbs in the ground or outdoor containers. Late plantings need extra feeding with bulb food below the beds just before planting and also around the emerging plants as soon as shoots appear to insure enough strength for flowering and future bulb health. Some varieties of traditional spring-flowering bulbs planted after this date without prior refrigeration may not have enough time remaining in the winter season to develop a strong root system capable of properly supporting the bulb’s flowering and multiplication. Thus they may flower but fail to multiply to bloom the following year or may fail entirely. The best bet for success is to plant these bulbs in what is now the coldest and shadiest spot possible but that will eventually get spring sunshine. Such an environment will prolong wintry chill to the benefit of the bulbs’ growth. The south side of a building or wall often works well for this purpose provided this location is exposed to cold, Southern Hemisphere wintry conditions. Ensure adequate drainage against persistent wintry damp.
Continue potting dry/refrigerated Spring-flowering bulbs. Stagger potting over the weeks ahead so that a succession of lovely flowers can be enjoyed in the months to come. The best practice is to plant several pots or as many as required and grow these on for at least a week or two; or until small shoots emerge; then plant the next group of bulbs.
Those Gardeners with refrigerated pots of spring bulbs need to check to ensure pots are not drying out. Just a tablespoon or so of water is often enough while in refrigeration. Overwatering can result in rot. Once shoots appear and roots begin to show through the drainage holes, the pots can be brought out of refrigeration. Place them in a cool room in bright light but out of direct sunlight for the first few days. Once they begin to assume a brighter green hue, move them into very bright light or sunshine and keep them cool. Water only very lightly. Feeding is optional. It can sometimes produce somewhat bigger blooms. But usually results in rapid growth that soon becomes floppy and unmanageable.
If it is the intention to grow-on the forced bulbs for flowering again next year, start feeding with a liquid plant food starting occasionally as shoots develop and more intensely immediately after flowering has finished. Pinch out the spent flower bud and seed capsule so that all energy goes into creating as much luxuriant foliage as possible. It is this foliage that will ultimately produce the energy to produce next year’s flower. Make sure the bulb foliage is exposed to as much bright sunlight as possible. Continue liquid feeding regularly until whenever its leaves begin to yellow and wither. This often provides enough energy to produce a bulb sufficiently large enough in size to bloom the following year.
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum), Arum/Calla, Canna, Dahlia, Gloxinia, Tuberous Begonia and other tender Summer-flowering bulbs, roots and tubers can remain in dry storage all winter. Check on them periodically to insure they are not being attacked by rodents or suffering from chill or dampness. They can be repotted or started from newly purchased bulbs now throughout the Winter and Spring. Once repotted, either maintain them in a dry state within their pot or place them in a sunny, heated glasshouse or bright and warm room where they are allowed to grow on slowly until Spring conditions return.
Flowers and Vegetable to Plant or Sow:
It is often difficult to germinate many varieties of seed at this time of year. Bottom heat is a great advantage. When sown direct into the garden, insure a sheltered and sunny location with excellent drainage. Sowing within a cloche or under glass or plastic works wonders. By far the best is to start seeds in a cold frame, glass house or very sheltered, sunny and warm corner outdoors.
Advanced seedlings either grown on from earlier sowings or purchased from a garden centre are stronger and more liable to withstand the rigours of wintry weather.
Flower seed/seedlings to try include:
Alyssum, Calendula, Calliopsis, Candytuft, Carnation, Canterbury Bells, Chrysanthemum paludosum, Coneflower, Cornflower, Delphinium, Dianthus, Gaillardia, Godetia, Gypsophila, Hollyhock, Larkspur, Lobelia, Lunaria, Lupin, Mignonette, Poppies, Scabiosa, Statice, Snapdragon, Viola and Pansy, Virginia Stock, Wallflower and more locally.
Be patient, growth may be very slow in all but the mildest climates. Most of what is planted now will begin flowering in the Late Winter, Spring or the Summer garden.
Vegetables to plant include:
Asparagus, Broad Beans, Cabbages, Cress, Endive, Garlic, Leeks, Mustard, Onions, Peas, Potato, Rhubarb, Shallots, Spinach, Swedes, and Turnips plus more locally or under glass. Cucumbers, Lettuce and Tomatoes are often grown successfully in the glasshouse with at least some artificial or passive heating.
crowns are planted now. Strawberries
can be started in mild climates and sheltered spots. Make sure the ground is deeply dug and enriched with generous quantities of aged manure. Strawberries are big feeders so enjoy a minerally enriched soil. Asparagus benefits from old bones or sea shells being dug into the soil beneath their crowns. They also respond well to a very light sprinkling of salt in the soil. Mulch all plantings. Soils should be free draining although Rhubarb can tolerate damp land provided their crowns remain raised above the surrounding bog.
Lightly cultivate around Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage & Cauliflower.
Feed with Nitrate of Soda, Sulphate of Ammonia or well aged compost plus Bone Dust. This will encourage strong new leafy growth. Once flower buds develop on Broccoli add Superphosphate to promote larger flower bud heads. Scratch this in between the rows or just a few centimetres away from the stalk. Do not allow chemical fertiliser or fresh manure to remain into contact with the stem or plant tissues otherwise burning may occur. Protect developing Broccoli and Cauliflower flower bud heads from frost and freezing or their flavour may be tainted. Brussel Sprouts benefit from light freezing to soften the sprouts and give them better flavour.
in sheltered corners for later planting through Spring. Simply lay them out whole in bright light and mild to warm positions in a freeze-free cold frame, garden shed or windowsill. Sprouts will begin to show in a few weeks. Once well-sprouted, each Potato is cut into pieces which are allowed to callus for a few days before planting. Alternatively, entire small sprouted Potatoes can be planted provided they are slit through their skin just before planting. This causes the seed Potato to rot away leaving the shoots to grow a new cluster of young Potatoes.
Deciduous Shrub and Tree Planting:
As soon as all foliage has dropped off of deciduous species that is the best time to start (trans) plant deciduous fruit, nut, and ornamental shrubs and trees; brambles and cane fruit, Grapes and Roses. Now that these species are completely dormant, established plantings will shift quite easily and bare-root or container-grown stock are most easily planted with little risk of failure. Choose an airy, moist but well drained, sunny spot with enriched soil. Always plant these specimens with the graft, level or above ground. Stake and water-in well and keep regularly watered if rainfall fails.
When it is impossible to immediately plant or complete the shifting of deciduous fruit and ornamental shrubs, trees, vines and Roses, simply ‘heal-in’ these plants i.e. partially bury their roots and trunks in moist mulch, sawdust, soil, etc. and keep them moist and partially or completely shaded. In preparation for transplanting as time and weather permits, planting holes can be dug and enriched with bone dust, general plant food and allowed to “cure” for several weeks before planting.
The next two weeks are excellent for pruning to produce bushier growth. Lightly prune and trim to shape most conifers and hedges also broad leafed evergreens. But remember that pruning Spring-flowering varieties now will remove some of the blossom buds.
As soon as all foliage has dropped also prune and shape fruit & nut trees, deciduous and other ornamental shrubs, trees and vines. Be aware that heavy pruning on some species will result in less Spring flowering. But most fruit trees can easily be cut back by at least 1/3 or more of this past seasons’ growth without damaging the crop.
Wisterias often produce better blooms when much of this season’s rampant growth is removed on each cane. Canes can be cut back to wherever the dormant buds begin to cluster closely together on the cane near the beginning of this last season’s growth.
Heavily pruned branches should be immediately sealed with protective tree paint or further die-back or disease may later kill off more growth than had been intended.
The exception to pruning now is in very cold and icy climates that are subject to prolonged and severe Winter storms. Leave pruning in these climates until Late Winter or when Spring sunshine returns then do all the pruning all at one time. Often if the winter chill is severe, some degree of die-back will occur to exposed branches, especially on Conifers.
Take hardwood cuttings of broad-leafed evergreens, Conifers, hardy herbs, Roses, ornamental shrubs and trees pruned this month. One of the best times is during this Waxing Moon Phase and just past the Full Moon (20 June) when water retention is at its peak. Conifers especially strike best after a few frosts.
Cut 20-30cm/8-12inch lengths just below a set of leave buds. Place in sterilised soil mix in an airy, bright, humid and very sheltered spot outdoors or in a cold-frame or cool glasshouse. They can also be started in larger pots placed within a plastic bag that creates a small terrarium environment. Sometimes they will also strike when placed in a sheltered garden bed with a large jar placed over the top of them; creating a mini glasshouse. Deciduous species do best but also try Broad-leafed Evergreens like Camellias, Daphne, Holly, Osmanthus, Rhododendrons and many others including most Conifers. Conifers often do quite well in a warmer environment but always out of direct sunlight.
cuttings for Spring planting, selecting healthy, strong 10-15cm/4-6inch lengths of active growth. Remove all but top leaves; nip out the growing tip. Dip in hormone gel or powder and place in damp sand/potting mix. Keep bright, moderately cool and evenly moist. Cuttings usually produce roots and are ready to transplant or grow-on in pots in 4-6weeks. Roots develop much faster with heating cables or within a heated glasshouse. Alternatively, dig clumps and divide; planting the outer, strong young growths. The inner older root and stem mass can also be grown on the garden.
Also take root cuttings usually clipped from where the root attaches to the crown at ground level. Lay into damp peat/sand mix and bury with their crown top at the surface; new tops will form in a few weeks and can be planted out or potted once they reach a reasonable size to handle. Rooted cuttings can be transplanted now into beds in the heated glasshouse for Late Winter and Early Spring blooms.
This Third Week in the Early Winter Garden:
This week Winter arrives in earnest with the Solstice 20-21 June. The ‘exact’ time of the Winter Solstice in New Zealand is 10:34 AM NZST 21 June 2016 or 10:34PM UTC 20 June. The Full Moon (20 June) reaches its fullest light just east of New Zealand at 11+PM. This Full Moon is the Solstice Full Moon of Early Winter. This is the peak of the Waxing Moon Cycle. It is also the peak ascension of the Moon in Southern Hemisphere skies 21 June. Sustained wintry conditions will almost certainly sweep across the land in all districts and have already arrived in colder regions.
The last day of the week brings the beginning of the Waning Moon Cycle.
The Celestial Solstice represents the shortest day of the year and marks the official beginning of Winter in Celestial time. Now the Sun has reached its lowest point in Southern Hemisphere skies. This creates Polar Night in Antarctica. While in the Northern Hemisphere this is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. The Earth’s axis is now tipped as far north as it will turn this year. This means that the Sun’s path through the sky is now as far north and as high in northern skies as it will go for the year; and at its lowest point in Southern Hemisphere skies.
In New Zealand this time is the culmination of Matariki, the Maori New Year. This signifies the wintry end of the growing season and also a new beginning of the growing year.
Matariki signals the beginning of growth as the sunlight slowly begins to increase each day. It celebrates this moment of change that begins the time to prepare land for the growing season ahead. Wise Gardeners who are famous for their beautiful and productive gardens almost always do much of their most important garden work during these cold months ahead.
The Moon reaches its peak ascent in Southern Hemisphere skies 21 June then starts sweeping north again. As the Moon ascends each day, this often pushes milder westerly or subtropical air toward New Zealand so weather conditions may moderate for a while in sheltered and traditionally warmer regions. But by mid week as the Moon begins to sweep in closer and then descend (20-21 June) this will most likely drag colder air northward; resulting in a progressively colder trend nationwide throughout at least the next week or more.
Keep Planting if You Can!
Weather permitting, this week especially and to some degree, almost every day until the end of the month will bring some of the most favourable lunar planting days.
Much can be planted during pleasant breaks in the wintry weather. Many of the backbone and foundation plantings including conifers, grasses and perennial groundcovers, hedging foundation plantings of shrubs, ornamental trees and hardy vines can be planted as well as a variety of Biennials and Perennials. This is a time when often ‘big is better’. Larger specimen plants with a bit more maturity often handle the cold and inclement weather much better than frail seedlings and tiny dollar store ‘bargains’ that can often be overwhelmed by a cold snap or wintry extremes.
Deciduous (bare-root and container-grown) cane fruit; Grape and Kiwi Fruit Vines; fruit and nut shrubs and trees; as well as ornamental hedges, shrubs, and trees; Roses; plus broad-leafed evergreens and conifers can be planted now and throughout the Winter months. Ground should be well-worked and enriched prior to planting. Avoid chemical fertilisers or ‘hot’ manures from coming in direct contact with the root system or burning and damage might occur. Once planted at their original soil line or just a little deeper, water in well. Make sure they are well staked again wintry storms. Add protective mulch wherever possible drying out or freezing might occur.
of most species as well as established Perennials
can be dug, divided and replanted wherever the ground remains workable. In climates experiencing wintry freezing be sure to surround the new transplants with protective mulch. Transplanting can continue throughout the Winter in mild climates.
Advanced container plants and larger seedlings raised earlier in the season can be successfully (trans) planted in moderate to warmer climates and sheltered districts on milder days. Try and shift them with as little root disturbance as possible. Always transplant them onto low, small mounds of earth so that their crowns rest somewhat higher than the surrounding ground and firm them in well. Then water them in to insure that as the soil settles, the new transplants remain in a well draining situation. If the ground settles away and the seedlings sink into a depression, gently lift them upward with a trowel taking all the surrounding soil with them. Then fill in beneath them with additional soil to ensure the new transplants remain on higher ground. This will help keep them from rotting.
Hardy Flower Seedlings to try include:
Alyssum, Calendula, Calliopsis, Candytuft, Carnation, Canterbury Bells, Chrysanthemum paludosum, Coneflower, Cornflower, Delphinium, Dianthus, Gaillardia, Godetia, Gypsophila, Hollyhock, Larkspur, Lobelia, Lunaria, Lupin, Mignonette, Poppies, Polyanthus & Primula, Scabiosa, Statice, Snapdragon, Viola and Pansy, Virginia Stock, Wallflower and more locally.
Most of these will begin flowering in the Spring or Summer garden.
Vegetables to plant include:
Asparagus, Broad Beans, Cabbages, Cress, Endive, Garlic, Leeks, Mustard, Onions, Peas, Potato, Rhubarb, Shallots, Spinach, Swedes, and Turnips plus more locally or under glass. Cucumbers, Lettuce and Tomatoes are often grown successfully in the glasshouse with some artificial or passive heating.
Get a head start of Root Crop Vegetables
. Anything that will develop and extensive root system; tap rooted vegetables and all crops that need a chance to become established before much top growth begins should be started this week around and just after the Full Moon onward toward the next New Moon (4 July).
All Leafy Vegetables should get planted or sown right now for quickest growth. Otherwise, they can be planted or sown right up until the very end of the month. Later plantings will make slower progress but develop a stronger root system.
Spring bulbs can still be planted in almost all outdoor sites but, if the intent is for them to multiply, they will need extra feeding with bulb food mixed into the soil underneath the bed (or beneath each bulb) at planting. It is best to be a bit generous with the bulb food then add a thin layer of ‘ordinary’ soil upon which the bulb rests. A sprinkling of bulb food can be spread over the bulb bed now at the time of planting. Plan to add another thin layer of compost mulch enriched with bulb food once shoots appear. This should give them the extra nourishment they need to grow strong enough to bloom this Spring and also reproduce new bulbs for next years’ flowering.
Spring flowering bulb planting outdoors should be completed by the end of the month. Most important for coldest climates where the ground may begin to freeze as wintry weather approaches. This gives the bulbs just enough time to grow a root system that will develop over the Winter to sustain good growth and flowering plus new bulb development in the Spring.
The exception to this is for pre-refrigerated bulbs. These are usually meant for early forcing in containers. But in mild and subtropical climates that do not experience enough wintry cold weather to produce good flowering results, Spring flowering bulbs, Hyacinths, some varieties of Narcissus and especially mid and late-flowering Tulips like the Darwin and Triumph Hybrids can remain in refrigeration for a while longer before planting. These can be planted out into Late Winter or Early Spring and will then flower about 6-10 weeks later dependent upon weather conditions that follow their planting. Such pre-refrigerated bulbs planted this late often put on a grand show but usually produce only small bulbils thereafter. Thus, they are best treated as ‘annual’ bulbs mean to be disguarded after flowering.
The same applies to bulbs planted in pots intended for indoor or outdoor display. Best results come from pre-refrigerated bulbs. But non-refrigerated bulbs can also be started now so long as they can be placed outdoors or in refrigeration for the cool growing-on period they demand. Never let them freeze, but maintain a constant cool growing environment (4-8C/39.2-46.4F degrees). Add a reasonable amount of bulb food into the soil of each pot. This is best added to the lower layer of potting soil. Then add a thin unfertilized layer of soil upon which the bulbs will rest. Add the bulbs then fill over them with a moderately enriched top layer of soil. Water in generously and place in a cool, shady place for them to grow on. Liquid feed regularly any bulbs planted in pots this late. This ensures enough strength for both flowering and bulb regeneration for the following year. Because bulbs are often so inexpensive when purchased now, many Gardeners forgo all this extra effort and simply plant them out; electing to treat them as Annuals. With some extra feeding and a benevolent season sometimes they get great results.
Continue planting refrigerated Spring Bulbs meant for early forcing onward through the Winter months. Stagger the planting of refrigerated bulbs; planting groups of them every week or ten days throughout most of the Winter. This will insure a succession of bulb colour for many months ahead. As a general rule, when planting bulbs of any particular species or variety, plant a group of bulbs in containers and wait until this first group begins to show signs of root development and/or sprouting before planting the next group. Some varieties take much longer to emerge from dormancy than others.
Also pre-refrigerated bulbs planted early often take longer to sprout than those planted later. This is because the bulbs all need several months of chilling before they spring into life. Early-planted bulbs have barely received enough time to force growth; while those left in refrigeration for a much longer period of time are overdue their time to emergence and thus spring into life much faster. For example a Hyacinth pre-chilled for 8-10 weeks will often take up to 8-10 weeks to flower. While a Hyacinth pre-chilled for 12-14 weeks or longer may begin to bloom in as little as 3-6 weeks!
Early forced bulb pots should be flowering now. Early flowering varieties of Daffodil (Narcissus); Hyacinth, Jonquils, Tulips and minor bulbs like Crocus, Galanthus (Snowdrop), Leucojum (Snowflake), Muscari, Scilla and a few others are the most commonly seen now. Keep these in a bright, cool environment. Lightly water and liquid feed regularly to keep them in active and strong growth.
Once bulb pots finish, many people just disguard them. But to get much better value and results for the money and time spent growing them; set them aside in a cool to moderately warm and very bright position where their foliage can continue to mature and ripen naturally. A spot exposed to full or at least partial sunlight is best so long as the sunlight is not so intense as to burn the foliage. If the plan is to grow them on and produce new bulbs, then their foliage must remain strong and well fed as this will produce the energy to produce bigger bulbs for next year’s flowering. The embryo flower bud for next year’s bloom will begin to form as this year’s foliage begins to yellow off and wither.
To accomplish this, spread a thin layer of bulb food mixed with finely screened compost or potting soil over the surface around each bulb stem. Water this in lightly with a liquid plant food high in Potassium (Potash). Another method is to use a foliar spray fertilizer with a mineral ratio high in Potassium such as something like (5-15-45). Potash encourages bulb and root development.
Continue to foliar/ liquid feed and water regularly, especially in the first few weeks after flowering. This gives the leaves the best opportunity to produce bigger flowering bulbs.
Then after a few weeks, just as foliage begins to pale or yellow at the tips of the leaves, allow their potting soil to remain on the drier side. Once foliage yellows-off completely and easily pulls away from the bulb, remove the old foliage. Fill the hole left by the flowering stem by pushing in soil from the top of the pot. This helps keep Bulb Fly and other insects from entering the hole and predating upon the dormant bulbs.
Set these pots aside in a cool and shaded location where the bulbs can rest in dormancy. Maintain cool to moderate temperatures or else dormant bulbs sometimes split in to multiple bulbils instead of remaining intact.
Most Spring-flowering bulbs store best if the dormant bulbs remain completely dry in an environment like a dry cellar, shaded shed or perhaps with pots placed on their sides beneath shrubbery or underneath a tarpaulin covering in the shade. There they can rest until Early Autumn.
Once all root growth has dried up, the bulbs can safely be remove from their pots and stored in a cool, darkish, dry position. Sort them by size. The largest can possibly be placed in cool refrigeration for forcing again. But it is usually best to plant these into the garden by planting them out early next Autumn. The smallest are often Autumn-planted in an enriched nursery row to grow on for another year or two before they bloom again.
Alternatively, leave the bulbs intact in their original containers. Then in Late Summer or throughout the Autumn bring the pots out. Take the bulbs out of their pots and replant them in new potting soil. If new roots have already begun to form on the old bulbs in their pots, simply remove as much of the old potting mix as possible from above the bulbs. Shake them lightly to remove any excess soil from amongst their roots. Be cautious not to damage brittle young roots. Then replace the bulb in its new container with fresh soil mix that has been enriched with bulb food and Superphosphate to encourage new growth and flowering. Now the cycle of life is ready to begin again.
Tender Bulbs, Corms, Roots and Tubers:
Tender bulbs, corms, rhizomes, roots and tubers like Canna, Dahlia, Gladioli, Tuberous Begonia and all others should be dug immediately anywhere that freezing or cold and wet conditions persist through the Winter months. Store in open boxes filled with peat, dry potting soil, sawdust, sphagnum moss, etc. in a cool, dark, dry position away from wintry chill and cold until ready to replant in the Spring. In very mild climates that might experience only minor frosts, tender bulbs can remain where they are or can be lightly mulched, provided the Winter remains dry. Be aware that tender Summer bulbs notoriously rot when exposed to persistent wet weather while dormant so if in doubt, dig and store them now.
Disease and Pests:
Remember to protect all outdoor plantings from Slugs and Snails! These pests will devour an entire crop or flower bed of seedlings overnight if left unprotected. They also tend to spread fungal spores that promote mould and rot. If conditions remain cloudy and damp, it may be advisable to spray with organic Copper powder or a full spectrum fungicide.
Once all leaves have fallen from all deciduous species, they are considered to be dormant. Once they are completely dormant continue pruning established fruit and ornamental shrubs, trees and vines other than Spring-flowering varieties. Broad-leafed Evergreens, Conifers and hedges can also be pruned or trimmed to maintain their shape. Spend the time to make a good job of this as whatever is pruned and trimmed now will remain in that condition for a considerable time until new growth resumes in Spring. Also be aware to leave a little extra length on all ‘vulnerable’ cuts (cuts made very close to structural and supportive branches) because, if there is further die-back past the cut, this could result in considerably more growth being affected than was planned.
Thin out rampant growth, removing damaged, diseased or weak wood; open the centre or crown to allow more air and sunlight to enter. Large wounds are often protected with antifungal tree paint or candle wax. This helps prevent fungal diseases, insect predation especially from Borer, or rot to enter the open cut.
Grape and Kiwi Fruit vines can be cut back severely now or at least trimmed to shape. Grape pruning can continue throughout the Winter months. Other vines can also be pruned or trimmed to shape now. Tender vines like Bougainvillea and Passion Fruit should only be trimmed to shape if there is no danger of frost damaging them. Otherwise leave them alone as frost will only kill the outer growth which will act as a protective canopy over the inner growth. Any frost damaged growth can later be pruned off in Spring once all danger of frost has passed.
Tender houseplants, (sub) tropicals or other delicate plants must remain warm no matter what the temperatures are outside! Be sure to move them out of cold, drafty spots. When in doubt if a site is drafty, place your dampened hand near the plants’ location. If your hand feels cool, this indicates a nearby draft. Allow your cool hand to guide you to wherever the draft is coming from. Then block this draft and insulate (double-pot) the plant and its pot, or remove the plant from this inclement location.
Place the tender plant in a very bright or sunny position where night temperatures do not fall below 12 C/53.6 F degrees. Reduce both feeding and watering. Through Winter water lightly and only on sunny, warm mornings avoiding cloudy, cold days especially if temperatures are liable to drop dramatically. Tender plants can tolerate more cold when they are rather dry; but quickly chill and rot if allowed to remain damp or left to soak in a saucer of water. A secret to successful care of tender subtropical plant species over the winter months is to add a small amount of an appropriate liquid plant food or foliar feeding to each watering. Once the mineral salts in the fertilizer are absorbed they will help maintain strong plant health, while lowering the temperature at which the plant tissues could freeze, much like antifreeze.
Colour in the Winter garden is often scarce. But in mild and (sub)tropical climates it is possible to have colour in your garden throughout Winter.
Many lovely perennials, shrubs and trees plus some vines flower over Winter. Most of these can be planted successfully right now.
Winter flowering perennials, shrubs, trees and vines:
Acacia, Agonis, Aloes, Arbutus (Strawberry Tree),Banksia, Bauhinia (Orchid Tree), Camellia, Cassia, Cestrum, Chaenomeles (Quince), Chorisia (Silk Floss Tree), Clivia, Coleonema, Erica, Fatsia, Gelsemium (Caroline Jasmine), Gordonia, Grevillea, Hamamelis, (Witch Hazel), Hebe, Helleborus (Winter Rose),Indigofera, Jasmine mesnyi (Primrose Jasmine), Lonicera (Bush Honeysuckle), Luculia, Mahonia (Grape Holly), Poinsettia, Protea, Pyrostegia (Flame Vine), Tecomaria (Cape Honeysuckle), Tibouchina, Viburnums and hundreds more.
Visit your local nursery to discover what grows well in your district. The coldest climates will have the fewest selections. In milder subtropical and temperate climates and wherever wintry freezing is not severe, now is a good time to plant all of these flowering species to create your very own Winter wonderland.
Berries produce much of the Winter colour in colder climates. These look very effective when placed amongst broad-leafed and coniferous evergreens whose foliage greatly highlights the berries.
Berberis, Callicarpa (Chinese Beauty Berry), Cornus (Dogwood), Crataegus (Hawthorn) Euonymous, Idesia (Wonder Tree), Ilex (Holly), Juniperus, Mahonia, Nandina, Prunus (especially Crab Apple), Pyracantha, Raphiolepis, Sarcococca (Christmas Box), Sorbus (Mountain Ash), Viburnum just to name a few.
Many of these can be planted now in Early Winter. In mild climates with no ground freezing, continue planting throughout the winter months. In colder climates with heavy frosts and ground freezing wait until Late Winter/Early Spring when there is no ground freezing.
Hardy Winter Flowers:
Hardy flowers still bloom in (sub) tropical climates and sheltered corner in mild climates experiencing only light frosts and no severe freezing.
Most of these flowers can also be planted now as advanced container plants for Winter colour.
Alyssum, Anemone, Ageratum, Calendula, Candytuft, Cineraria, Cosmos, Cyclarnen, California Poppy, Dianthus, Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis), Larkspur, Linaria, Marigold (French), Mignonette, Nasturtium, Nemesia, Pansy, Polyanthus, Poppies, Primulas, Ranunculus, Schizanthus, Snapdragon, Stock, Strawflower, Virginia Stock (Malcolmia), Viola, Wallflower and much more. These are best in very sheltered spots outdoors or under glass wherever frosts are severe.
Inclement wintry weather is a good time to dream, plan, read, redesign or research your garden. While heavy construction work outdoors may be difficult, the more that can be accomplished now the better your garden will look later in the Spring. Gather all necessary construction materials, plants, seeds, tools, etc. Clean and sharpen tools and service equipment like chain saws, leaf blowers, mowers, etc. Make notes on the best growing requirements for each plant now which will save time later.
The ‘exact’ time of the Winter Solstice in New Zealand is 10:34 AM NZST 21 June 2016 or 10:34PM UTC 20 June. This is also the peak ascension of the Moon in Southern Hemisphere skies 21 June. Combine the peak ascension of the Solstice Full Moon of Early Winter with the Winter Solstice and there is no question that Winter is here.
The remaining days of this month brings the beginning of the Waning Moon Cycle.
Winter is officially here but the days are already growing just a little bit longer each day as we head toward springtime. But first we must overcome Winter.
Real Winter and the chilling weather it brings is here in all but the most sheltered and warmest regions.
In those Blessed (sub) tropical ‘winterless’ regions, conditions frequently remain mild, pleasant and often dry and sunny; occasionally punctuated by a chilly blast or frosts. If those are ever going to happen it will be now with another good chance in the weeks ahead, especially mid-July.
But for most Gardeners, this starts the coldest, dampest, darkest time of the year.
The Waning Moon Cycle dominates the entire week. The Moon is descending in Southern Hemisphere skies (its path appearing lower toward the northern horizon each evening). The Last Quarter leading toward the ‘Dark of the Moon’ begins 28 June.
In subtropical and tropical locations, Winter is often cool, dry, pleasant and sunny. In Maritime subtropical locations Winter is usually cool and often damp. While in temperate and colder climates this is when severe Winter freezes and heavy frosts arrive along with the start of Winter storms. The Wise Gardener prepares for these conditions now.
Finish all difficult outdoor work without delay before inclement weather makes outdoor work too difficult.
Wintry weather need not stop the passionate Gardener. This is an ideal time to plan your Spring and Summer garden. Winter is an ideal time to order bulbs, plants and seeds from Growers, especially of special new hybrids that might later on be in short supply. By starting Spring and Summer garden plans now, there is plenty of time to collect everything that will be needed to transform dreams into reality. This is also a time to dream and imagine architectural and design changes plus new structures and ornamentation that could enhance your garden. Draft plans or draw sketches of what you imagine then spend a little time reflecting on these changes and perhaps modifying your ideas. Once your ideas start to take realistic proportions, use this time to collect what materials you will need to achieve top results. If your plans involve a large expenditure or extensive architectural and building development, it is often a good idea to seek professional assistance now. This helps to insure that what you imagine is indeed feasible and within budget plus that the final outcome will actually produce the desired results.
The Last Quarter Moon leading up to the ‘Dark of the Moon’ (30June-4July) is the time of increasing celestial and gravitational extremes. This is traditionally considered the ‘best’ time to cut wood; set fence posts and make fencing; lay foundations and paving; spread gravel and sand; building projects of all sorts are favoured. It is a good time to mow lawns and cut or prune things back lightly to keep them short. Make and spread compost, feed garden beds and lawns.
In many colder regions, these are the last days to complete essential garden jobs like planting before the time of hibernation and rest begins in the gardens. For the next two or three months seed, smaller seedlings and cuttings will grow best with artificial heating under cover or in very sheltered spots outdoors. Dormant and hardy things like deciduous fruit trees, ornamental shrubs and Roses will be planted outdoors whenever weather permits.
In milder climates, much can be planted during pleasant breaks in the wintry weather. Many of the backbone and foundation plantings of hedging, shrubs, trees and vines can be planted throughout the Winter months as well as a variety of Biennials and Perennials. This is a time when often ‘big is better’. Larger specimen plants with a bit more maturity often handle the cold and inclement weather much better than frail seedlings and tiny dollar store ‘bargains’ that can often be overwhelmed by a cold snap or wintry extremes.
In these milder climate zones, continue to transplant advanced container plants and larger seedlings raised earlier in the season. Be very careful to not damage their root system while transplanting and shift them with as little root disturbance as possible. This is especially important later in the week approaching the increasing celestial extremes associated with the ‘Dark of the Moon’. The advantage of Winter transplanting is that many plants are near dormant and weather conditions are often perpetually cloudy and damp. These conditions are good for transplanting.
transplanting during dry, sunny and windy conditions or days with severe freezing overnight. This could become too stressful for seedlings to handle.
Anything needing extensive root development; tap rooted flowers and vegetables and all crops that need a chance to become established before much top growth begins should be started around now and onward toward the next New Moon (4 July).
plus most seeds are best started in very sheltered corners. They will strike much more successfully with bottom heat and/or under cloches or glass.
These hardy seedlings are the easiest to try: Alyssum, Calendula, Calliopsis, Candytuft, Carnation, Canterbury Bells, Coneflower, Cornflower, Delphinium, Dianthus, Gaillardia, Godetia, Gypsophila, Hollyhock, Larkspur, Lobelia, Lunaria, Lupin, Mignonette, Poppies, Scabiosa, Statice, Snapdragon, Viola and Pansy, Virginia Stock, Wallflower and more locally.
Asparagus, Broad Beans, Cabbages, Cress, Endive, Garlic, Horseradish, Leeks, Mustard, Onions, Peas, Potato, Rhubarb, Shallots, Spinach, Swedes, and Turnips plus more locally. Under glass start Cucumbers, Lettuce and Tomatoes. This weeks’ position in the lunar cycle is particularly well suited to the planting of all Root Vegetables.
A heated glasshouse with artificial lighting allows the keen Gardener or Commercial Grower to continue to grow many tender warm season crops most successfully.
Dormant rooted perennials; brambles & canes; conifers, broad-leafed evergreens; deciduous shrubs, trees and vines; deciduous fruit and nut trees plus ornamental hedging and also Roses are all planted now into open ground and throughout the Winter months. They can also be started in cold frames or containersWhen planting, plan carefully for the ultimate size of the plant. Dig broad, deep holes and mix in well aged manure, compost, a sprinkling of general plant fertilizer and/or blood and bone. Plant bare rooted plants a little deeper in the soil than containerised specimens that are planted just at ground level with a light sprinkling of soil placed over the top. When planting into larger containers, repot so that the top of the root ball rests just under the original ground level in its new container. Then add a light sprinkling of new potting soil over the top. Make sure that the graft on fruit trees, Roses and vines remains above ground level. Water and stake well.
should now be available to purchase from catalogues or most garden centres. These should be planted soon after purchase. Never allow the roots to dry out. Prepare a planting hole at least as deep as the root ball or clipped roots and possibly wider. Add generous amounts of mature compost or well-aged manure plus a dusting of a good quality Rose food deeply dug in. Avoid excessive amounts of chemical fertilisers touching the exposed roots. Spread roots and adjust the Rose in the planting hole so that its crown sits just above the soil line. Back fill the hole and water in immediately.
should be planted in outdoor beds at once! This is especially important for early-flowering varieties like: Anemone blanda and other early flowering Anemone species and varieties; Eranthis (Winter Aconite); Chionodoxa (Glory-of-the Snow); Crocus; Galanthus (Snow Drop); Hybrid Hyacinths; Iris reticulata; Leucojum (Snowflake); Muscari (Grape Hyacinth); most species of Narcissus, hybrid Ranunculi and Scilla, and all early flowering Dwarf ‘Rock’ Tulips and early-flowering (species) Tulip varieties. With few exceptions, the last possible successful planting date without prior refrigeration is just two weeks away.
The most successful Spring-flowering bulbs to plant this late or even later include: Alliums; Anemone coronaria; Freesia; hardy Garden Hyacinths; Ixia; Sparaxis, Ranunculus; late-flowering tall Darwin /Hybrid Tulips and other hardy species. These have the best chance planted this late when they have been exposed to at least several weeks or months of refrigeration prior to planting and/or when they are planted into locations with cool, damp, prolonged Winter and Spring conditions. This gives them the opportunity to develop and mature naturally as they should. Wherever Spring comes early or temperatures quickly rise, late-planted bulbs don’t have time to develop adequate root systems so some of these bulbs might fail to bloom or develop properly and most will not have the energy to produce new bulbs for years ahead so will fade away as would annual flowers.
are often planted now and throughout the Winter months. They need excellent drainage and do extremely well in raised beds, large landscape planters and terraced land. Most varieties are excellent in containers. Bright Asiatic Lilies and Longiflorum (Christmas) Lilies will perform surprisingly well in rather small pots. Later flowering Oriental Lilies need larger containers that are also rather deep as they produce roots and bulbils on the growing stem above the main bulb. Provide an airy environment with good sunlight, preferably strong morning sun with dappled light during the heat of the day. Light soils that retain some moisture suit them best. Feed with a bulb fertiliser or slow release plant food. Lilies prefer an acid soil (low pH) so avoid Lime anywhere near Lilies!
Canna, Dahlia, Gladioli and Watsonia corms and tubers must be lifted in colder districts where ground freezing or heavy frosts are likely. Store in dry peat, potting soil or sand; in mesh bags; open boxes, etc. in an airy, cool, dry, frost free place until time for planting in Spring. This also applies to Caladium, Gloxinia and Hippeastrum and Tuberous Begonias all of which should be finishing by now. While hardy varieties will survive in the ground, less hardy hybrids fade away without special care. In very mild climates that remain dry and sunny throughout the Winter, losses are less likely than in positions that could become cold and wet.
can now be selected from local nurseries with just the right colour hue for your garden. They thrive in even quite cold garden situations but do best if the blooms can be sheltered from freezing. They are famous for popping up through snowy ground. But like most of us would prefer a somewhat milder growing location. Plant them now in well drained, woodsy soils aspected with cool/dappled sunlight to light shade. Container-grown Helleborus make an excellent short-term conservatory, sunroom container plant. Keep them bright, lightly watered and fed and maintained within a cool environment so that the delightful flowers will last. Once flowering finished they can be grown on outdoors in a partly shaded, sheltered corner. When grown in medium to larger sized containers in the ‘right’ position, Helleborus thrives for years with very little extra maintenance.
Flowering container plants, both indoor and sheltered outdoor species should be regularly fed and lightly watered. This is best accomplished on bright or sunny warm days. Fertilised water can be allowed to stand within their saucers for no more than a couple of hours, then tip out any remaining liquid. Avoid feeding and watering on cloudy and colder days as this practice combined with wet soil often leads to rot. Maintain bright, cool and sunny conditions. Most rewarding flowering container plants include: Cymbidium, Oncidium, Paphilopedilum (Slipper), and Phaleonopsis (Moth) Orchids; Chrysanthemums, Cyclamen, Helleborus, Kalanchoe, Poinsettia, Polyanthus, Primula (obconica), Zygocactus and forced Spring-flowering bulbs. African Violets, Begonias along with most Orchids prefer the same treatment but require sustained warmer conditions.
Protect all glasshouse and outdoor plantings from Slugs and Snails. This is especially important with emerging flower buds on Orchids, tender bulb shoots and young seedlings.
Fruit Trees and Orchards; Cane Fruit and Rose beds should be cleaned and tidied. Spray with Winter spraying oil mixed with a Copper based fungicide or choose a commercial fungicide/insecticide. This cleansing spray is best applied over wet branches for greatest absorption but when a dry spell of weather will follow. Respray if rain occurs with less than 12 hours.
Prepare planting holes for new season Bramble and Cane Fruits, Roses, ornamental shrubs, trees and vines. Main pruning season begins now once all leaves have drops and onward throughout Late Winter.
Winter spraying now is an excellent way to control fungus, rots and larvae of insects that will affect crops later. This is especially important on: deciduous, fruit and orchard trees; Citrus; fruiting shrubs, cane fruits; Loquat and fruiting vines. Spraying now will allow the exposed plant tissues to “sterilise” in Winter sun. Spray with Conqueror Oil or Winter Spraying Oil (40 ml/8 teaspoons oil to 1 litre water) and mix this with Copper powder or a full spectrum fungicide mixed as per directions. An insecticide can be added to this brew which is very helpful if insect predation such as Borer, Coddling moth or Scale has been a problem. Be generous and liberally spray the plants and surrounding grounds plus nearby plantings that could harbour pest problems.
Include Fuchsias, Geranium/Pelargoniums, Roses and anything/anywhere else that has been a problem over the growing season.
Lichen or moss can be removed now with Lime Sulphur sprays (1 part to 20 parts water). Spray liberally over wet foliage when dry weather is expected to follow. This is a caustic spray so protect tender plants from burning!
Last Quarter and Dark of the Moon is an excellent time to mow lawns to keep them short for longer. All manner of building projects are favoured (weather permitting). The gravitational extremes building toward the New Moon help anchor foundations into the ground. So wherever ground freezing is not a problem, this is an excellent time to lay brick work and paving; set posts and build fences plus stone walls; create rock gardens, fountains, ponds and pools. Also cut fire wood.
During inclement weather this is an excellent time to plan, research and study about what grew well last season and what you would like to grow in the growing season ahead. Many dormant green goods can be ordered or purchased now.
This is an excellent time to inventory supplies and stock up on what you’ll need in the months ahead. It’s a great time to sharpen tools and do a general clean-up inside as well as out. Stay dry and warm!