From Jon Lamb Communications
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January 10, 2020

Top plants for beating the heat

The ability of Australian plants to “beat the heat” was clearly demonstrated last week when Saturday ABC TalkBack Gardening listeners were asked to nominate two plants in their garden that had not been affected by this summer’s extreme heat.
More than one third of the plants listed were natives, with erimophilas, westringeas and callistemon topping the list. Others nominated included grevilleas, kangaroo paws, rhagodias, helichrysum and Sturt peas.
Crêpe myrtle, murraya and dwarf bougainvillea were the most-nominated exotic plants, with others listed including frangipani, Chinese elm, photinia, rosemary and Indian hawthorn.

Selecting sun-loving heat beaters

Plants recognised as “heat beaters” usually have an extensive root system capable of seeking out moisture well below the topsoil. 
In some cases they also come with leaves that have been modified to reduce moisture lost through transpiration.
  • Avoid plants with large, soft green leaves.Invariably these have a high transpiration rate and are often classified as waterholics.
  • Look for plants that have long, thin leaves and those that have grey or hairy leaves, as these are factors usually associated with heat tolerance and low water use.
  • Select plants with similar water requirements for grouping together. This makes it easier to provide individual plants with their correct water needs.

Adapting to change

It was heartening to hear experienced gardeners on ABC TalkBack Gardening last Saturday explain how they are quickly adapting to our changing climate.
Regular deep waterers and those who soak their plant’s root zone before the heat sets in reported very little damage to their ornamental plants, even those growing in full sun.

Protection with shade

Many gardeners, including this week’s ABC TalkBack Gardening guest, Brett Draper, now protect their summer vegetables during January and February by using 50% white shade cloth.
Brett used 6 m lengths of 20 mm pressure pipe pushed over 1 m lengths of 12 mm reinforcing rod driven into the ground to create arches, as pictured here.
A 9 m length of pipe was lashed to the arches at the top for stability.
He says this simple construction drops air temperatures around the plants considerably but still allows plenty of air movement.
It also allows bees, pollinators and birds to move through the area and clean up the bugs.

Shade cloth shortage

A severe shortage of 50 percent white shade cloth, just before Christmas, left many Adelaide gardeners angry and frustrated.
Despite the extensive publicity given to the benefits of using 50 percent shade cloth in the garden – a number of major garden suppliers simply “ran out of supplies”.
Gardeners reported having to spend considerable time “shopping around” and in many cases, with further heatwave conditions likely, were forced to buy materials not ideally suited to their needs.
Feature plant

Little Ruby - a top heat-loving performer

Put Little Ruby down on your list of top-performing heat beaters.
Little Ruby belongs to a group of alternantheras featuring eye-catching deep burgundy foliage that changes colour tones with the seasons.
Little Ruby produces a low mounding canopy (30 to 40 cm) that is very compact but spreading (60 to 90 cm).
This makes it an ideal feature plant for the front of a small garden or growing as a long lasting display plant in courtyard gardens.
Little Ruby thrives in the sun but adapts well to part shade.
It grows best in well-drained moist soil. While it may suffer in frosty areas during winter in SA trials it bounces back quickly once the sun comes out.
This plant can be trimmed to shape and makes a wonderful border plant.

More information »

Hot weather will continue

South Australia’s extreme heat is set to return later this month with even hotter conditions likely through February.
Climatologists expect  in-feeds of tropical moisture over the state through January but prospects for significant rain from this system are considered low at this stage.

When seeing is believing

If, like many gardeners, you like to see where the water you apply is going, consider installing shrubblers. 
These are small round emitters that squirt out eight short visible streams of water in a circular pattern.
They apply water much faster than drippers (e.g. shrubblers – 30 L per hour; drippers 4 L per hour).
Shrubblers are ideal for trees, shrubs, vegetables and ground covers.

Watch out for European wasps

As temperatures rise during summer, so too does the activity of European wasps.
Take particular care during the holiday season as they are attracted to protein (leftover meats - particularly from the barbecue) and sugar (leftover soft drinks, particularly in bottles and cans.)
European wasps are also attracted to ripe (sugary) windfall fruits.

Meet the basils          

Basil is a great herb to grow at this time of the year.
There are many different varieties and each has its own warm, spicy mint-like flavours and scents.
Common green-leafed basils often grow 60 or 70 cm high but if you like variety, check out the many forms with interesting leaf shapes, colours and flavours.
As a guide, the purple-leafed varieties are a little smaller than the common basils.
However, there are numerous small and dwarf forms including bush basil, spicy globe or lemon basil.
These generally grow to 20-35 cm.
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a-okay plum

This new plum is a-okay

A new high yielding plum selected for its health benefits, particularly antioxidants, will soon be available in South Australia.
The plum, appropriately named the a-okay Plum(TM) has the highest antioxidant levels and potential health benefits of any plum available to home gardeners.
The a-okay Plum is the first in a new range of healthy fruiting varieties called “Backyard Boosters”.
These will be released in Australia through the PlantNet organisation and distributed to SA garden centres through Balhannah Nurseries.
The a-okay Plum is a prolific cropper, producing large numbers of delicious, dark skinned plums with blood red flesh and a relatively small seed.
New growth is an attractive burgundy colour and this is maintained throughout the growing season.
This plum will be available in South Australia soon, as both a full-size and a dwarf tree.
Pollination is required from another plum that flowers at the same time.

You will find a lot more health benefits and research information here »

Vegetables not setting fruit

If your tomato, cucumber and zucchini plants stopped setting fruit over the past three weeks you are not alone.      
Conditions for successful tomato pollination are a bit like baby bear's porridge – they must be just right.
  • Too hot: the pollen dries out before it is delivered
  • Too cold: the pollen fails to germinate
  • Just right: Daytime temperatures 18° C to 25°C, night-time temperatures 14°C to 22°C
Pollination may still take place when temperatures are fairly close to either side of these figures.
However, the greater the divergence the more both fruit set and fruit quality is affected.
Pollination is unlikely to take place when day temperatures exceed 35°C.
Irrigation Guide

Increase home micro irrigation run times

Antelco shrubblerWell the hot dry start to the year has certainly caused our gardens to suffer if they are not watered correctly.
Whilst low-volume drip irrigation (fixed drip rates of 2 and 4 lph) is widely used, in these times of very dry conditions long run times are required to adequately water your garden.
Native trees and shrubs adapt best to these low volume watering devices, but some higher-water-use plants do not cope as well with this type of watering.
For the higher water requirement plants, you should consider using adjustable drippers instead.
These typically apply water at around 30 lph which will provide more water when it is needed the most.
The adjustable drippers incorporate an adjustment knob in the design of the product so that you can vary the watering amount as per your garden’s requirement.
Pictured is an Antelco shrubbler.
It is best to work on using these adjustable drippers in the most water stressed areas of your garden and adjust till you get adequate water to the plants.
Antelco produce a full range of adjustable drippers right here in South Australia.

More information »

Check vegetables and ornamentals for mites

Miniature spiders, known as mites, are building their numbers on the leaves of vegetables, particularly tomatoes, and also many shrubs (roses, viburnums). 
The combination of spider mites and very hot weather can be disastrous to susceptible plants. 
Plants should be checked regularly and sprayed with a horticultural soap (Natrasoap) or wettable sulphur as soon as damage is obvious. 
For severe infestations a repeat spray in two weeks may be needed.

Send us your diary dates

Don't forget to send us your garden event dates and details for inclusion in the Good Gardening "What's On" calendar.
You can email us here »
Chillies Seasol

Chillies thrive when it’s hot

The warmer the weather the quicker chilli plants grow at this time of year.
Chillies are a true perennial in warmer climates and have the potential to continue fruiting for three or four seasons.
They are also very rewarding. A large pot with three or four varieties mass planted will produce hundreds of fruits.
Plant into well-improved soil or into a large pot filled with a premium potting mix.
Apply PowerFeed Pro Series Tomatoes & Vegetables every two weeks (mix 50mL concentrate to 9 litres of water) to produce a bumper, tasty, fiery crop.
PowerFeed Pro Series Tomatoes & Vegetables promotes strong healthy growth, stimulates flowering and fruiting, plus it’s boosted with seaweed to stimulate the root system and reduce stress from heat, drought, frost, pests & disease.
It also contains active liquid composts which improves soil health and maximises nutrient uptake from plants.
With a huge range of chilli varieties available, ranging from mild to extreme heat rating available in garden centres, there’s bound to be the perfect variety to suit the heat preference of every member of the family.

More information »
Lawn Care – Stefan Palm
Paul Munns instant turf

Its not too hot for instant lawn

You don’t have to wait until summer passes to install instant turf.
Turf containing sun-loving grasses such as couch, kikuyu or buffalo will thrive in the heat – providing there is adequate moisture in the soil.
Considering how hot summer has been, Stefan Palm has suggested gardeners planning to establish instant turf this season would find value in the lawn blog he published during last summer’s extreme heat.
Stefan suggests extreme hot weather is best avoided, but in reality it is rarely too hot to lay turf.
According to Stefan, success is largely about when and how you water.
However, he also has some useful turf laying tips.
Read the complete blog here »
Paul Munns Instant Lawn

Orchids will need special hot-weather care

By Trevor Garard,
SA Orchid Society

With more extremely hot weather likely we will need to take drastic measures to keep plants cool and hydrated.
Use extra shade cloth or move the plants to shade if possible.
Always use deep watering although some growers are standing their pots in saucers of water to ensure water is always available.
Keep an eye on how plants respond. However, if you are using this method return to your standard culture as weather cools.
Australian native cymbidiums should be in flower or finishing their flowering season.
Consider removing flower spikes on all flowering plants early to reduce plant stress.
Some spikes will be OK as cut flowers but others not so good.
Watch plant condition carefully if there is a cool change with rain after extremely hot weather.
The stressed plant is an easy victim of fungal rot, especially if you have taken plants from a sterile flask or purchased small plants during late spring.
Check growing equipment that will be used during the year.
Tools can be sterilised with tri sodium phosphate. Make sure you mix to the saturated solution stage. As you mix the solution you should see undissolved crystals on the bottom of the container.
Tall jars make excellent containers for this job, as long knives and scissors will stand easily in the solution.
Pots that are to be reused need to be sterilised and bleached in a 10 percent solution of household bleach for at least 30 minutes. Dispose of the bleach carefully when finished.

Please keep your questions for Talkback Gardening

Good Gardening  is unable to answer individual reader's questions via email.
If you're looking for specific gardening advice please give me a call on ABC Radio Adelaide's Saturday morning Talkback Gardening  or speak to the experts at your local garden centre.

Open GardensOpen Gardens

Saturday & Sunday, January 11 & 12
Zeitz Garden
37 Garrod Crescent, Stirling
An oasis of cool green and an abundance of flowers. Tall trees planted 42 years ago give shade to beds where wind flowers mingle with hydrangeas, tree ferns, fuchsias, gardenias and bromeliads.
More information on the garden and directions »

Gardens open 10 am to 4.30 pm.
Entry $8 - OGSA members; $6 - Government concession card holders; children under 18 free.

More information on the 2020 season »

Weekend gardening weather

Talkback Gardening tomorrow

ABC Radio Adelaide Talkback Gardening this Saturday – phone me and Leigh Radford on 1300 222 891 and have your own gardening question answered.
Brett Draper, horticulturalist and garden centre manager: Is it time to change the way we garden?
Jason Scroop, Poplar Grove wholesale plant nursery:  Misting – a great way to keep your courtyard garden plants. cool.

Coming soon

Saturday April 18
Fern Society of SA annual sale
9 am - 2pm, Adelaide High School, West Tce, Adelaide.

Regular events
Woodville Academy of Floral Design. Meeting alternate Wednesdays at Kilkenny Community Centre, corner Wilpena Tce & Tarcowie St, Kilkenny. Visitors welcome. Details »

Regular garden attractions

Adelaide Botanic Gardens – free guided walks
Friends of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide guided walks for the public at Adelaide, Mount Lofty and Wittunga Botanic Gardens, and Botanic Park.
More information »

The Waite Arboretum, Fullarton Road, Urrbrae

Open free to the public every day of the year from dawn to dusk, except on fire ban days. Free guided walks on the first Sunday of every month, 11 am to 12.30 pm.
Meet at the West lawn (Croquet Lawn) of Urrbrae House. Bookings not necessary.
More information »

Urrbrae House historic precinct gardens
At the end of Walter Young Avenue, off Fullarton Road, Urrbrae, or from the Urrbrae House gate, Claremont Avenue, Netherby.
Open from dawn until dusk every day. Free entry.
More information »

Carrick Hill
Heritage house museum and garden, the former home of Sir Edward and Lady Ursula Hayward. Open weekends & public holidays. Free admission into garden and grounds. 46 Carrick Hill Drive, Springfield.
More information »

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Disclaimer: Although all reasonable care is taken in preparing information contained in this email, neither Jon Lamb Communications (JLC) nor its officers, staff or suppliers involved in the editing and production of this email accept any liability resulting from the interpretation or use of the information set out in this document. Information contained in this document is subject to change without notice and is of a general nature and should not take the place of professional personal advice. No responsibility is accepted by Jon Lamb Communications for the accuracy of information contained in web sites linked from this email. Publication of an advertisement does not constitute endorsement by JLC of any product or service, or warrant its suitability.

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