This Second Week in the Early Winter Garden:
This week brings the Early Winter (Solstice) Full Moon (9-10 June). This is the peak of the Waxing Moon Cycle. It is also the peak ascension of the Moon (11 June) when it climbs highest for the month in Southern Hemisphere skies. This sometimes brings with it periods of turbulence and unsettled weather. Soon sustained wintry conditions will almost certainly sweep across the land in all districts and have already arrived in colder regions. Make final preparations for these colder times ahead. Weather permitting; this is often a favourable time for planting hardy flower and vegetables that produce their crops above the ground.The Waning Moon Cycle begins 10 June and continues until the New Moon 24 June. Now starts the ideal time to plant from containers; shift and transplant a wide variety of deciduous hardy shrubs, Roses, trees and vines. It also favours the planting and sowing of all hardy root crop vegetables and anything with a large root system or tap root. Harvest for immediate use this week and to make jam, jelly and juice.
Keep Planting if You Can!
permitting, almost every day this week will bring some of the most favourable lunar planting days for the month.
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.
Outdoor hardy Ferns 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. It is best to transplant them onto broad, low mounds of earth so that their crowns remain a little higher than the surrounding ground around them. Firm them into position and then water them in to insure that the soil settles. These new transplants must 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 during wet wintry weather.
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 on 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 onward toward the next New Moon (24 June).
All hardy Leafy Vegetables should get planted or sown right now for quickest growth. The early days of the week before the Full Moon are the very best. 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. This insures that delicate emerging roots do not come in direct contact with the fertiliser otherwise this might result in root burn and damage to the bulbs’ growth and flowering. 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. This is 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 including, Crocus and minor 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 in 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 on sale 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 for their time of 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 more until they flower. While a Hyacinth pre-chilled for 12-14 weeks or longer may begin to bloom in as little as 3-6 weeks and sometimes even less!
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 within the bulb 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 into multiple bulbils instead of remaining intact. Small bulbils almost never bloom the following year but can be grown on, if conditions are favourable, to produce flowers a couple of years ahead.
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.
Dream and Plan Ahead:
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.
This Third Week in the Early Winter Garden:
The Waning Moon Cycle dominates the entire week reaching the Last Quarter Moon (17 June) and then deepening into the Dark of the Moon phase (20 June). The Moon is descending (rising lower and farther to the north) in Southern Hemisphere skies all week. These conditions favour the planting of hardy root crop vegetable, anything with a tap root and a wide variety of deciduous shrubs, Roses, trees and vines; conifers and hardy broad leafed evergreen species. It is also a great time for pruning, cleaning and tidying plus a variety of general gardening jobs whenever weather permits.
Winter Arrives Now:
The Winter Solstice arrives in New Zealand 4:24PM NZST 21 June 2017 or 4:34 AM UTC 21 June. The Celestial Solstice represents the shortest day of the year and marks the official beginning of Winter as the Sun reaches 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 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 usually 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.
The End and the Beginning:
In New Zealand this time begins preparations for the celebration of Matariki, the Maori New Year. The Winter Solstice is the celestial turning point in the botanical year as the growing season withers into Winter and we begin preparations for the emerging growing season ahead. Next weeks’ New Moon (24 June) and the following day mark the time of official Matariki celebrations of this momentous turning point in the growing year.
Matariki signals the beginning of emergent 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.
A Time for Planning:
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 hybrid varieties 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.
General Garden Jobs to Complete:
The Last Quarter Moon (17 June) leading up to the ‘Dark of the Moon’ (20-24 June) 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; create rock gardens, fountains, ponds and pools and set stones into position; 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. It is a great time to eliminate brush, scrub, weed trees, and other unwanted vegetation. This is also an excellent time for a general ‘clean and tidy’ all around the garden and inside as well.
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 if all this appears too overwhelming, use this dormant time to hibernate, rest and stay dry and warm!
Plant While You Can!
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. Avoid 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 (24 June).
Semi-hardwood and soft-wood cuttings 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.
Flowers to Plant or Sow:
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.
Vegetables to Plant or Sow:
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 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 Deciduous Plantings:
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 containers. When 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.
Bare-root Roses 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.
Spring bulbs 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 less than 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.
Lily bulbs 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 and larger bulb Regale Lilies need larger containers that are also rather deep as most of these varieties 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.
The Winter Rose, Helleborus, 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.
House Plants and Tender Winter Flowers:
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!
Winter is Here!
This Forth Week in the Early Winter Garden:
It has just arrived in the Southern Hemisphere with the Winter Solstice 21 June 4:24 PM NZST/ 4:24 AM UTC. It is marked the same day with a superior conjunction when Mercury passes behind the Sun. This week witnesses the Full Waning Moon Cycle and Dark of the Moon (21-24 June) then a powerful near-perigee New Moon (24 June) will bring quite high and low tides on a following this date. The emerging Mid Winter Early Waxing Moon Cycle completes the month. This is a great week for general gardening and landscape activities with renewed hardy plant resuming after the New Moon.While this is a perigee New Moon, it is almost fully descended in Southern Hemisphere skies. Thus it is more likely that inclement weather will concentrate in Northern Hemisphere latitudes where storms could be severe in those traditionally exposed locations. Here in New Zealand this often produces a predominantly westerly flow with cool to moderate weather especially in milder climate zones and sheltered regions. Those exposed to the stronger westerly winds, especially in colder southern and western regions could possible expect more wintry conditions.
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 and the chilling weather it brings is here in all but the most sheltered and warmest regions. For most Gardeners, this starts the coldest, dampest, darkest time of the year.
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. In most regions of New Zealand this has already happened. The next probable time for an impressive cold snap will occur in the first couple of weeks in July. Finish all difficult outdoor work without delay as that time of real chill is almost here.
This New Moon signifies the time known in New Zealand as Matariki, the beginning of the Maori New Year. Matariki is the time when the sacred constellation known as the Pleiades (Seven Sisters or heart of the Bull in the Constellation Taurus) first becomes visible in the early morning skies. Mars, Mercury, the Moon and Sun are all clustered closely together at the time of this year’s Matariki. Official celebrations commence 24-25 June.
Matariki, the Maori New Year is the time of end and new beginning. Matariki celebrates the growing season now finishing and signals the beginning of growth as the sunlight soon will slowly begin to increase each day. It celebrates this moment of change and transition that begins the time to prepare land for the growing season ahead.
Traditionally, Matariki was celebrated by different Maori tribes either when the constellation Matariki was first seen rising in late May or early June; at the first New Moon or Full Moon immediately following the rising of the constellation Matariki (today known as the Pleiades in the larger constellation of Taurus). In the modern era, the Winter New Moon has become the accepted signal for the beginning of the Maori New Year. Long ago, celebration times varied by tribe; some celebrated on the day of first sighting; others on the day of the next New or Full Moon; others the day after and up to three days following; some celebrated for an entire month.
Matariki celebrations revolve around acknowledging what we have and what we have to give. It is a time to give thanks to Mother Earth (Papatuanuku) that supports us and our Families as it has for countless generations. Matariki celebrates our diversity of culture, language, life, people and spirit.
A Transitional Week:
The Full Waning Moon Cycle and Dark of the Moon dominates the early part of the week. This is a time of withering and fading so a great time to clear away finished flower and vegetable beds and weed them thoroughly. The beds can be composted and fed in preparation for later crops and plantings. Clean and tidy everywhere. Rake fallen leaves, especially where they have caked upon lawns or wherever they have fallen over groundcovers, perennial plantings; within the crowns of plants, especially Bromeliads and Palms. Remove them to the compost pile or use them as valuable mulch around plantings that need winter protection.
This is an excellent time to attempt to cut down and eliminate scrub, noxious vegetation and weed trees. Immediately upon cutting this back, soak the cut in a mixture of kerosene and salt or use an appropriate herbicide. Mow lawns to keep them short for longer. Prune lightly to tidy up groundcovers, shrubs, trees and vines for the Winter months ahead.
All manner of building projects are favoured (weather permitting). The gravitational extremes building toward the New Moon help anchor foundations into the ground. So 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.
After the New Moon (24 June) begins the Waxing Moon Mid Winter Planting Cycle. Weather permitting these days through the end of the month and well into July could be quite good for planting a wide range of hardy things.
Winter Planting Begins:
The Winter planting cycle starts immediately after the New Moon (24 June). This begins the time to plant: Winter-hardy annuals, biennials and perennials; groundcovers; conifers; hedging; fruiting and ornamental brambles, canes; shrubs, trees and vines; fruit and nut trees (deciduous bare-root and container-grown ),Grape and Kiwi Fruit vines, Roses and most broad-leafed evergreens.
Make planting holes broad as well as deep so roots can spread out and provide a stronger base. In heavy clay and hard-pan soils, it may be necessary to mound up above the ground. A generous application of Gypsum scattered into the planting hole and surrounding soil will help break down heavy clay. Add plenty of compost to improve the soil. Once the plant is in place, back fill soil into the hole to about half the full depth. Add water to insure there are no air holes around the roots then fill in completely to ground level and water thoroughly. Stake securely any planting that may be subject to sever winds.
In some situations, bare root plants and Roses are not yet available. Because the ground is often easily worked now, another approach is to dig planting holes now and enriched them with bone dust, general plant food and allowed to “cure” for several weeks before planting. This way, once desired plants become available, most of the hardy work has already been accomplished.
Vegetables to Plant or Sow Now:
Root vegetables can be planted (much better sown from seed) up until the New Moon (24 June) wherever climatic and soil conditions are benevolent. Also consider very carefully planting or sowing the seed of leafy vegetables and those that produce their crops above the ground now and onward to the Full Moon (9 July) and even beyond that.
Root Vegetables to plant or sow in mild climates:
Beet, Carrot, Fennel, Garlic, Leeks, Onion, Parsnip, Potato, Radish, Shallot, Swede and Turnip. These crops can also been sown under glass, in a cold frame, or beneath cloches. Wherever soil remains workable, include Artichoke, Asparagus, Horseradish plus Rhubarb and Strawberry plants that depend on their extensive root systems to produce quality harvests.
Leafy Vegetables and all those that produce their crops above the ground can also be sown. This gives their seed full opportunity to germinate before the beneficial aspects of the Waxing Moon Cycle begin later in the week.
Leafy Vegetables to sow or transplant include:
Broad Beans, Broccoli, Cabbages, most Chinese Greens (Bok Choy, Chinese Cabbages, etc.), Cress, Coriander (Cilantro), Endive, Herbs, Lettuce (often best under glass or in raised beds), Mustard, Parsley, Peas, Silverbeet and Spinach.
Tender Vegetables for the Brave-Hearted:
Within the heated glasshouse or very sheltered (subtropical) garden it is possible to start: Beans, Cucumbers, Herbs, Melons, Pepino, Squash Taro, Tomato and more. But be aware that their growing environment must remain very airy and sheltered, sunny and warm with frost-free Winter protection in the months ahead. It’s a challenge!
Flowers to Plant or Sow:
In colder climates that experience severe frosts, ground freezing or worse, this is not much of an option. But in those Blessed milder climates and the ‘winterless north’ this is an acceptable planting time, weather permitting. The next couple of weeks look like the best opportunity before the advent of much colder air further chilling the soil.
If seed is to be sown, it will germinate much more successfully with bottom heat, in a bright and warm cold frame, cloche or glasshouse; possibly outdoors in a very sheltered, sunny and warm corner.
Transplant seedlings with great care this week as celestial extremes are strong. Also be aware that anything flimsy and tender is very vulnerable to collapse from wintry exposure and especially cold, wet soil that quickly leads to fungal attack and/or rot.
Annual, Biennial and Perennial Flowers to plant or sow include:
Alyssum, Aquilegia, Arctotis, Bellis Perennis (English Daisy), Candytuft, Cornflower, Canterbury Bells, Carnation (shelter from freezing), Coneflower, Delphinium, Dianthus, Feverfew (Tanacetum), Digitalis (Foxglove), Gaillardia (shelter from freezing), Godetia, Gypsophila, Hellebores (Winter Rose), Hollyhock (Althea), Honesty (Lunaria), Iceland Poppy, Larkspur, Limnanthes(shelter from freezing), Linaria, Livingstone Daisy, Lobelia, Lupin, Mignonette, Myosotis (Forget-Me-Not), Nemesia (shelter from frost), Nemophila, Nigella, Painted Daisy, Pansy, Penstemon, Polyanthus, Poppies (most species), Primula, Scabiosa, Snapdragon, Statice, Stock, Sweet Pea (shelter from frost), Viola, Virginia Stock, Wallflower, Wildflower mixes and more locally.
Advanced Container Seedlings:
This is often the best option as they are larger, stronger and more likely able to withstand wintry extremes without collapse. Continue to transplant: Aquilegia (Granny Bonnets), Arctotis, Bellis perennis (English Daisy), Canterbury Bells, Carnation, Cineraria, Cyclamen, Delphinium, Dianthus, Feverfew (Tanacetum), Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis), Foxglove (Digitalis) , Gaillardia (Indian Blanket), Hollyhock (Althaea), Iceland Poppy (most Poppy species), Larkspur, Limnanthes Sea Foam/Meadow Foam), Livingstone Daisy, Lupin, Nemesia, Primula and Polyanthus, Ranunculus, Snapdragon (Antirrhinum), Strawflower (Helichrysum), Stock (Matthiola) , Sweet Pea (Lathyrus), Wallflower (Erysimum), Wildflower mixes and much more.
Frost-Free Flowers for Mild Climates:
In the very mildest climates with minimal light Winter frosts (preferably none) plant or sow the following seed or seedlings: Ageratum, Calceolaria, Cineraria, Cosmos, Cyclamen, Gazania, Impatiens, French Marigold (most other Marigold species in frost-free locations only), Petunia, Primula obconica, Schizanthus, Sweet Pea, Zinnia and much more. Be aware that cold, wet weather will ruin their flowers almost as surely as frost. All these species can be successful grown in a bright and sunny glasshouse and sometimes in a protected sun-facing veranda. In mild climates these could be planted out into the garden in two months’ time or can be held over in the cold frame or nursery for planting-out in Late Winter or Early Spring.
Protect all seed and seedlings from predation by Slugs, Snails, Birds and Vermin!
Perennials can be planted from containers in milder climates wherever the ground is still workable. See the forementioned list ‘Annual, Biennial and Perennial Flowers to plant or sow’ for a few suggestions.
Before planting enrich the new planting site with compost. Make sure the soil drains well!
Cut back established Perennials and Ferns (optional) as they finish. In milder climates these can be lifted and divided now through Early Spring. The biggest exceptions are perennial Phlox and Shasta Daisy that are usually best divided and transplanted in Spring. Replant clumps or individual roots immediately or as soon as possible.
Ferns are always best planted immediately. Perennials can sometimes be ‘healed’ (partially buried) in to damp peat, potting mix or soil and will stay healthy in their dormant state provided they remain moist and are not exposed to freezing. Replant as soon as possible. In climates experiencing freezing it is best to surround them with protective mulch. This includes newly transplanted specimens as well as anything tender that could be desiccated by persistent and severe cold.
In colder climates that experience ground freezing, protect newly planted perennials by mulching around, but not over, the plants. A mixture of mineral rich Autumn leaves mixed with well-aged manure and/or mature compost makes an ideal organic mulch. Where ground freezing is imminent, add an additional layer of fluffy mulch around the plants once the ground has frozen to protect them from Winter extremes. If sever freezing and icy winds are likely, cover over the plants once the ground has frozen to give them added protection. Dry hay or straw and tannin rich leaves like Magnolia, Oak or Pine all are examples of ‘fluffy’ mulches that will retain warm without flattening down and smothering the dormant perennials.
Summer Bulbs: Complete the digging and storage of tender warm-season bulbs, corms, roots and tubers. Once freezing or heavy frost affect them they are often lost.
Amaryllis/Hippeastrum, Calla/Arum Lilies, Gloxinia, Tuberous Begonia and similar tender warm-season flowering bulbs and tubers can be repotted now. These are usually retained in an airy, bright and cool environment with little if any water until new shoots begin to emerge. Alternatively, they can be brought into immediate growth when placed in a warm and sunny heated glasshouse or indoors.
Continue planting Lily bulbs in the ground and in containers. Lilies prefer bright and mildly sunny positions but avoid dry spots or hot, full sunshine that could potentially dry out their fleshy and tender bulbs. Morning sunshine positions suit them very well or choose a spot with dappled shade during the heat of the day. Soil must be very freely draining but always somewhat water-retentive and of an acid pH. Peat based soils mixed with sand and loam suit them well.
Protective mulch may be wise in colder climates that might experience ground freezing. Also protect all potted Lilies that are left outdoors during the wintry weather ahead. Either place pots close to the house or sheltering building or wall that provides them protection from freezing; alternatively bury or cover the pots in grit, leaves, mulch, peat, soil, spoilt hay or anything else that will insulate them from freezing.
Spring-Flowering Bulbs: Make final plantings of unrefrigerated Spring-flowering bulbs in ground or containers outdoors. This includes late season Spring-flowering bulbs like Narcissus and minor bulbs, Hybrid and tall Darwin Tulips, Parrot and lily-flowering Tulips which do quite well when planted this late in the mild and warmer climate districts. Early flowering Tulips species can still be planted in colder climates but would be risky if mild Spring weather returns too early for them to establish a proper root system. So plant unrefrigerated early flowering varieties in colder and shaded positions where Spring sunshine arrives much later. This will afford them an extra few weeks of cool weather in which to mature properly.
Late bulb plantings need extra feeding with bulb food below the beds and a dust over the soil at the time of planting. Then dust over with more bulb food and superphosphate as soon as shoots appear to insure enough strength for flowering and future bulb health.
Spring-flowering bulbs planted in containers must also experience the required months of cold wintry condition in order to flower properly. Place them in a cool, dark, damp position where they cannot freeze but can experience wintry cold for at least two months or longer. In mild climates Gardeners often plant these bulbs in larger containers left out in the garden in a chilly, dark or partially shaded position with just enough protective covering and/or mulch to maintain very cool soil that does not freeze.
In colder climates, bulb pots can be placed in trenches that are then filled with charcoal, gravel or sand. They can also be buried in mulch. The bulb pots are first thoroughly watered and then are completely buried. The entire bed is then covered with a mulching layer of leaves, old carpet, boards, etc. After the required two months or more of refrigeration, the bulb pots can be lifted from the buried trench; washed off and then brought into a cool room for forcing of early flowers.
Refrigerated Spring-flowering bulbs that have been exposed to 12-14 weeks of cool refrigeration should be potted now. Alternatively, they can also be planted outdoors in mild or warm climates into garden beds. Place these pots in a cool, somewhat shaded position either indoors or outside if not exposed to freezing. They can be brought indoors for flowering once shoots emerge and become green. Flowering usually commences in about 4-6 weeks; some ‘late season’ varieties take 6-10weeks from planting to flowering. The tall, stately Darwin Hybrid Tulips are in this category and are excellent for warmer climates.
Those bulbs that were potted earlier and placed pot-and-all in refrigeration are ready to bring out into bright, cool conditions for later flowering as soon a roots appear through the drainage holes and shoots are emerging. Hold some pots back in refrigeration, keeping them cool as possible without freezing and quite dark plus on the drier side (but never completely dry!). This will retard their flowering to create a succession of flowering pots that can last over several months.
Spring Flowering Bulb Specials:
Many garden centres and nurseries will have specials on their final selection of Spring-flowering bulbs, often at marked-down prices. Sometimes it is worth the risk because it is not too late to refrigerate or plant Spring-flowering bulbs now. Before purchasing sale price bulbs check to see that they are still firm and plump. Avoid dried-up, papery bulbs or those that are mushy or appear grey and mouldy.
Anemone and Ranunculus corms are often good selections. Even though they may appear dry and hard they often respond if soaked in warm water for an hour before planting. Choose an airy and sunny position that remains fairly frost-free in very freely draining soil. They are excellent in half barrels, larger pots, troughs and tubs as well as raised beds and sloping sites. These are of Middle Eastern origin so prefer cool, dry and moderately sunny climates. They do not appreciate periods of cold, endless, wintry rain especially if it is followed by freezing weather. For best results give them some protection from New Zealand’s infamous inclement wintry cold and wet.
Most Narcissus and hardy Daffodils can also be planted this late with a fairly good chance of success. They can also be refrigerated but this is best done once they are potted as Narcissus bulbs tend to perish when left in open air for long periods of time. Often they can be planted directly into garden beds now without refrigeration and will still perform well in the Spring although they may not have enough energy to multiply for future generations.
Tulips also can be started this late. But they do require 12-16 weeks of cold conditions for them to bloom satisfactorily. Thus they either need to be placed into refrigeration immediately then plant them out starting in the beginning of Spring. Alternatively, plant them into a garden position that will remain cold long enough for them to develop properly. Often a position that remains shady and cold all Winter but gets sunshine later in Spring will suit them nicely. Early flowering Rock Tulips are the most difficult when started this late but would suit colder climates with a prolonged Winter season. But late flowering stately and tall Darwin Hybrids and Single Late Tulips varieties often do quite well because they require a long, cool Spring season for proper development.
This week is a good time to clip, shape and lightly trim conifers, hedging and most plantings. Light pruning at this time should keep them shapely for longer.
Avoid severe pruning of desirable ornamental shrubs, trees and vines in the ‘Dark of the Moon’ days (especially 21-24 June) leading up to the New Moon (24 June). Gravitational forces will be quite extreme during this time. This may result in more die-back than was intended. This is particularly true of deciduous varieties until all foliage has dropped. Once this has happened, deep pruning should be fine.
After the passing of the New Moon (24 June) continue pruning established fruit and ornamental trees and shrubs other than Spring flowering species. Thin out rampant growth, removing weak wood; open centre of crown to allow more sunlight and air to enter. Paint large wounds to protect them with antifungal tree paint. This is most important in very damp and mild climates and/or wherever borer insects and rotting diseases are a problem. Most wounds will naturally heal of their own accord. It will not hurt Spring flowering species to be pruned now, but it will remove dormant flowering buds that will reduce the next blossoming season.
Grape vines can be cut back severely now onward throughout Winter as soon as all foliage has dropped. This is by far the best time of the year to do this.
Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous and some evergreen shrubs and trees plus vines pruned this month. Cut 20-30cm/8-12inch lengths just below a set of leave buds. Place in sterilised soil mix in a bright, humid spot someplace very sheltered outdoors or in a cold-frame or cool glasshouse. Sometimes a cluster of cuttings can be covered with an inverted bottling jar which acts as a mini-cold frame-glasshouse. Deciduous species and Roses usually strike best but also try Broad-leafed Evergreens like Camellias, Daphne, Holly, Pieris and Rhododendrons including Vireya and most types of hardy Conifer. If they strike successful, young plants will be ready to pot-up or shift on by Mid/Late Spring.
Eliminate scrub, weed trees, and unwanted vegetation now! Noxious plants are best cut back hard during these gravitational extremes that occur during the ‘Dark of the Moon’ phase right up to the New Moon (24 June). Plant sap is naturally returning to the safety of the root system in preparation for winter dormancy. When plants are cut back at this time, especially when gravitational forces are at their greatest extreme, this has the potential to draw air into the severed vascular bundles. The result is significant die-back. This can be augmented by covering the cut surface with kerosene and salt or any variety of commercial herbicide. These toxic agents will be pulled down into the vascular bundles causing further die-back; often completely killing off the unwanted vegetation.
Disease and Pests:
Control fungus, rots and insect larvae that will affect crops later by spraying now and allow to “sterilise” in Winter sun. Included here are: deciduous, orchard, Citrus, Loquat and most other fruit trees plus vines like Grape and Kiwi Fruit.
Spray with Conqueror/ Winter Spraying oil (40 ml oil to 1 litre water) mixed with Copper or a full spectrum fungicide added as per directions. An insecticide can be added to this brew. Be generous, including Fuchsias, Roses and anything and anywhere else that has been predated over the growing season.
Lichen or moss can be removed now with Lime Sulphur (1 part to 20 parts water). Protect tender plants from burning! Since this is a caustic spray, shrubs, trees and vines should be bare-of-leaves prior to application. To control most common fungus problems, spray over wet branches or foliage using a Copper-based spray mixed with Winter Spraying Oil or use a commercially suitable fungus spray. Make sure applications are thorough and allow the spray to also drop below the affected plants to kill off soil-borne fungal spores. Choose a time when there is little chance of precipitation. This allows the lime sulphur application ample time to seep in and destroy the spores. Continue spraying whenever weather permits throughout the Winter months until buds begin to swell.
House Plant Care:
Potted Chrysanthemums, Cyclamen, Kalanchoe, Primula and Polyanthus species, Poinsettia, Zygocactus along with forced Spring-flowering bulbs (Crocus, Hyacinths, Muscari, Narcissus, etc) should remain in airy, bright, cool positions. Water sparingly and feed lightly but regularly with every watering with a commercial ‘flowering’ fertilizer which will contain extra Phosphorous and Potash but rather low in Nitrogen. This will increase colour, bract and flower size.
Because Moon and Sun are converging, gravitational extremes increase. This results in tidal extremes in ocean, plants and people. As the Moon-Sun combination rises higher in morning skies and over head this is the best time feed and water for top growth and flowering as sap and water will be quickly drawn upward, especially on sunny and warm days. This works for glasshouse and indoor plants as well as those outdoors. Great tides and thus tidal extremes will occur on 24 June and will taper away by the 28th.
To refresh a dry garden or encourage stronger root development, feed and water later in the day. As the Moon-Sun combination is setting in the west and then passes below the horizon, its gravitational pull locks with that of the Earth to create a strong downward pull into the ground and root system.