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Get Garden Inspired – Sue McDougall

September is the best time to visit gardens and become inspired. Garden owners are such generous people and get so excited when they have an audience to share their stories with. Take a visit to your local open gardens this month. They are a great example of what can be achieved in your area, and if its inspiration you are looking for – you’ll certainly find it.

Adding colour to the garden is a priority at this time of the year. Annual plants such as Vincas, Petunias and Portulaca will grow fast and fill in any bare gaps that are lacking a colour splash. They are some of the best plants for waterwise colour over summer.

Planting herbs in spring will guarantee fresh tasty leaves all summer. To get maximum benefit from herbs plant in a sunny position in a well improved soil. Parsley and Basil are so easy to grow from seed and the most cost effective. For the cost of an established plant, by growing by seed you will get hundreds of plants. Usually there is enough to give away to grateful family and friends. Growing herbs from seed is the perfect starter project for kids. For the entrepreneurial kids amongst them, they may be able to make a little pocket money by selling the excess established seedlings to loving grandparents and aunties.

Dust settles on indoor plant’s foliage and many people take them outside to allow the rain to wash it off. This practice is fine if the rain is warm, such as a thunderstorm in summer, but because the temperatures are low and the rain is cold more harm is done than good. Most of our indoor plants are tropical or sub-tropical species and require warmer conditions to thrive. The best way of removing dust of foliage at this time of the year is with warm water and a soft cloth. Always use white oil and wipe over the foliage. This not only keeps the leaves glossy, it will clean up any scale insects.

Passionfruit vines are starting to grow fast at this time of the year. September is the ideal time to prune if needed as passionfruit set their flowers on their new growth and it’s easy to feel hard done by if your neighbour is reaping the benefits of all your hard work and harvesting the fruit on their side of the fence. It is possible to grow a passionfruit vine in limited space in a large pot. Tip prune regularly and prune back hard every year in September. Passionfruit require full sun and a warm winter position to thrive.

The scent of citrus blossom fills the air later this month. It’s the time of the year citrus are most vulnerable to wind or stress and at their highest need of nutrients. If conditions are damaging late this month, such as extreme storms and wind some fruit that has just set will drop off. To try and maximise the amount of fruit set apply Seasol as a foliar spray, that is over the leaves via a sprayer at the beginning of September and then again mid-month. By applying Seasol through the foliage it is absorbed very quickly, particularly if the weather is cold and will start to strengthen the plant at cellular level.

Repotting indoor and patio plants to give them a new lease of life can be carried out this month. In long term pots salts build up from fertilisers, organic material in potting mix breaks down and impairs drainage and dry patch appears. Be ruthless and remove potting mix from around roots, any damaged rotted roots and place back in same size pot or a larger one. When refilling pots remember to water in potting mix thoroughly, walk away and water again in 10 minutes time. This practice fills in any of the gaps around the roots that were created when the old potting mix was removed.

Citrus and roses are requiring high levels of nutrients throughout the growing season. It best to fertilise these plants little and regularly from September to May, rather than all at once at the beginning of the season. Select an organic based fertiliser for roses or citrus, they not only deliver the nutrients these plants need, but will improve the water holding capacity of the soil by increasing the organic material in the soil. After applying fertiliser mulch with composting mulch which will break down quickly and improve the structure of the soil around the plants roots.


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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