How to garden in Autumn?

Autumn is a lovely time of year in SA. Trees are beginning to change their colours and lose their leaves. What many dont know, is that Autumn is the time for the root.

While spring and summer offer lovely displays of luminous green new growth, showy flower displays and the beginnings of luscious fruit; Autumn is when true gardeners separate themselves from the rest.

Autumn happens to be a perfect time to plant. The first rains have set in and softened the soil, leaves are dropping and causing the flurry of insect life to burrow down and compost your garden for you. Its also the time for root growth. Roots remain semi-dormant through the warmer months, and while they still grow and spread, the growth pales in comparison to autumn. Plants divert their energy from putting on brilliant displays

above ground and focus on developing strong, healthy roots below.

So how should you garden in Autumn?

PERENNIALS

(plants that live for more than two years)

eg. liliums, phlox, agapanthus, gaura, ornamental grasses, clivias osteospermums etc

Autumn is a good time to lift and divide perennials. Water the clumps well the day before lifting, and dont let roots dry out when lifting, so do the dividing in the shade, and if you are expecting the task to take some time cover the clumps with damp sacking to further protect the roots. For replanting choose healthy young growths from the outer edge of the clump.

LAWNS

Stop feeding grass now. Mowing can continue as long as the weekly growth is noticeable, but don't cut too short.

VEGETABLES Pull up all summer vegetables that have finished bearing. Put healthy plants on the compost heap, but never do this with unhealthy plants as they will contaminate your compost. Give all members of the cabbage family a light feed. BULBS

incl. some perennials Continue lifting and spliting evergreen agapanthus, day lilies and summer flowering red hot pokers if they are over crowded. If March lilies have finished flowering and if the clumps have become over crowded, lift, divide and replant the bulbs, with neck of the bulb just below the surface of the soil. Continue planting all the bulbs that flower in winter. Tulips and daffodils may be planted now (as long as they havent been kept is cold storage).

POT PLANTS

Stop feeding all pot plants except cyclamen, primulas and winter bulbs. Water all pot plants, except those mentioned above, less frequently as the weather gets cooler. Never let them dry out, however, t

his is important for ferns and orchids. As the foliage starts dying back, gradually reduce watering.

SHRUBS

This is a good time to take hardwood cuttings to re-root. There are loads of good tutorials on the internet and its a very easy and cost free way to keep your garden looking lush. The cuttings should be ready to plant in the garden in the winter or early spring of next year. Roses can continue being pruned for flowers, but hold back on their annual cut for another 2 months.

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