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October 2011 – Sue McDougall

October is the month of gorgeous spring days. It is time to enjoy the garden. All the hard work that has gone into it has paid off, the garden is abundant with flowers and the bees, butterflies and birds are all happy.

What to do

Looking for a plant suitable for a hanging basket that is as hardy as nails? Look no further than the old fashioned ivy geranium. Some stunning new varieties have been released recently that will flower continuously, are disease resistant and perform in a hot position.

Artichokes are plentiful at this time of the year. It is not too late to plant them and you can reap the rewards of stunning grey thistle-like foliage which contrasts beautifully with burgundy foliage plants. If the flowers are left to mature the stamens are stunning in their own right.

Portulaca seedlings are appearing at the garden centres.  These are one of the hardiest and easiest to grow annuals.  They are perfect for beginner gardeners or those who don’t think they have a green thumb as they will keep flowering for months over the hottest part of the year. Portulaca is perfect as a ground cover for rockeries.

In frost prone areas it is time to plant the tomato seedlings out. If it is an unusually cold month they can be prone to early blight which causes black angular marks on stems and leaves. Usually it disappears when the weather warms up but in extremely bad cases will need to be treated with Mancozeb Plus which is a very effective fungicide.

It’s time to get the sunflower seeds planted for a summer show of flowers. When we think sunflowers bright single flower heads come to mind but one of my favourite varieties is the double yellow dwarf variety. Flowers are stunning, massed with bright yellow petals and they only grow to 60 cm high, making a great border. Check out the great range of seeds in store now.

Sturt Desert Pea seeds can be germinated this month or save fiddling around and plant out seedlings which are available now. Sturt peas are dry area plants so need to be planted in the driest, sunniest part of the garden. When planting they require a sandy position (not a real problem for most areas of WA). Add a teaspoon of slow release fertiliser in the bottom of the hole, which will feed the roots gradually over the six months of growing season. If you happen to be short of space, put them in some large pots or hanging baskets instead.

Gardenias are putting huge amounts of effort into flower buds at this time of the year and normally start to show up bright yellow leaves. They stand out so badly because they look so bright next to the dark green foliage. Don’t be alarmed.  I can almost guarantee that nearly every other gardenia around is doing the same thing.  The problem is magnesium deficiency and can be easily fixed with a treatment of Epsom Salts or magnesium sulphate. Dissolve a dessertspoon in a watering can and water in around the root system. The application of an organic soluble fertiliser such as Powerfeed is also beneficial at this time of the year.

We couldn’t let October pass us by without mentioning the roses as this month they are at their best.  It is the perfect time to choose new varieties for your garden since now is when you can see them in full flower.


Time to sow or plant seedlings of climbing bean, dwarf bean, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, celery, chilli, chinese cabbage, chinese broccoli, choko, cucumber, eggplant, endive, honeydew melon, lettuce, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb, rock melon, silverbeet, squash, sweet corn, tomato and water melon.


Time to sow or plant seedlings of ageratum, alyssum, amaranthus, aster, balsam, begonia, celosia, chrysanthemum, cosmos, dahlia, coleus, gerbera, gloxinia, impatiens, marigold, nasturtium, petunia, phlox, portulaca, salvia, statice, sunflower, sweet william, verbena and zinnia.


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