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A Passion for Frangipani – Sue McDougall

February can be a hot month but there are a couple of quick jobs to do early in the morning that will have you reaping rewards later in the year and one of the favourites for gardeners is to take cuttings of their frangipani.  If you’re not a gardener, you have to give this a go as it is surprisingly easy and very satisfying especially when you end up with a frangipani tree for free!

Frangipani1Frangipani Frenzy
These drought hardy small trees, while native to tropical climates, are perfectly suited to Perth gardens.  Now they are almost as common as the lemon tree and deserve their place in any garden or large pot.

Plant frangipanis around pool areas to create a tropical oasis or use the overarching foliage canopy to protect shade loving plants from harsh summer sun. Frangipanis are very easy to grow from cuttings at this time of the year so if you haven’t had a go, now is your chance.  Just find a friend with a tree that they would be happy to cut a branch from and get propagating.  Here’s how:

  1. Take pieces of frangipani from a tree that are about 50-60cm long and then just lay them on the ground or lean them up against a fence in a shaded dry position until the end dries out.  This could take a few weeks.
  2. Scrape the surface of the bottom 5cm of the cutting and paint it with hormone gel.
  3. Prepare a propagation mix which is equal parts of coarse propagating sand and perlite.  Avoid using vermiculite or coco peat as it’s too light and the cutting will fall over continually.
  4. Fill a pot and place the cutting into the mix.  If it needs to be held upright, include a stake.
  5. Water the mix well and place the pot in a well-lit position out of direct sunlight. Multiple cuttings can be placed in the same pot without any problems.
  6. Once new growth appears and the cutting is growing, transplant it into a larger individual pot or into the ground.
  7. Frangipani cuttings will grow without an established root system so if in doubt leave in the pot for a little longer to ensure transplant success.

Passionfruit
The intense flavour of a freshly picked passionfruit reminds us just how good home grown produce is. Passionfruit are a vigorous climber and given the right conditions they will fruit for many years though they do require regular watering and feeding for best results.

Feed passionfruit vines lightly every month with an organic granular fertiliser along the complete length of the plant and water it in well. A common mistake is feeding only at the base of the plant where there are almost no feeder roots so it will miss out on essential nutrients. After the last of the fruit has been harvested, give the vine a quick tidy up, a very light prune and an application of a complete fertiliser containing added potassium as this will strengthen the plant for next seasons flowering.

Aphid and antsAnts in Pots
Throughout the summer months pots are susceptible to an invasion of ants. Most plants can tolerate ants passing through, but it’s when they start to excavate the soil and expose the fine feeder roots to the air that plants will deteriorate.  Ant dust or powder sprinkled around the soil surface will clear up ants before they become a problem.

One of the reason ants invade pots is because the pots are on the ground and in contact with the soil surface. Prevent a re-invasion by lifting pots up off the ground with pot feet or small pieces of brick or wood being careful not to block off drainage holes.

If there is any evidence of scale insects on plants control these by using Confidor Tablets pushed into the soil. Where there is scale there are usually ants feeding off the sweet honeydew that’s secreted by the scale so once the scale is under control the ants will probably disappear.

 

Written by Sue McDougall, a qualified horticulturalist and experienced garden centre owner who grew up in the WA wheatbelt and has had experience in gardening throughout the entire state.  You may know Sue as the garden expert on 6PR radio and by her many TV appearances.

 

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