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Go potty this Autumn!

March 2003


Go potty this Autumn!

Easy Gardening Tips from Anthony Tesselaar International

Autumn is a wonderful time to be out in the garden, and when it comes to planting, it’s the most profitable season of them all. The shrewd gardener plants mainly in autumn, making the most of the perfect combination of warm soil and cool, moist air. Roots are fast to establish and young plants prosper in the low-stress environment, free of the baking heat of summer. An autumn-planted garden gets its roots well established before winter, bursting into life with the first hint of spring.

So, its time to go mad on planting – trees, shrubs, hedges, groundcovers, flowering perennials, spring bulbs, vegetables and annuals. It’s also a great time to be filling pots and hanging baskets with colour. The colours of autumn are warm and vibrant - rich golds, orange yellow and bronze, deep blues, purples and hot pinks that will see us through the cool grey days to come.

Flower Carpet Roses make a fabulous display in large pots. Over the ten years since their introduction they’ve proven themselves as long flowering and extremely disease resistant shrub roses for all climates. There are six Flower Carpet colours; Pink, Yellow, White, Apple Blossom, Red, and Coral. The bushy, glossy leafed plants are available as regular shrubs or as tree roses for those who want extra height or formal effects. Make the most of your Flower Carpet Roses by planting in a generous sized pot, feeding well with slow release fertiliser and supplementing nature with frequent watering. Flower Carpet Roses flower prolifically, but even when they’re not in bloom their dense glossy leaf cover and shrub-like appearance makes them an attractive container plant. Unlike traditional roses, they are without their leaves for a very short time.

Other autumn flowering shrubs suitable for containers are modern dwarf varieties of Marguerite daisies, or popular in subtropical gardens, hibiscus and vireya rhododendrons provide superb autumn colour for larger pots. New Hibiscus 'West Coast Red’ grows well in warm to temperate climates if given a protected position. It’s large ruffled Hawaiian type blooms, up to 25cm across last up to three days each and peak in autumn.

For a more spectacular effect in autumn pots, fiery Canna Tropicanna is a winner. The striped foliage canna with its hot orange flowers has become a firm favourite in subtropical gardens.
With the sun shining from behind, the leaf colours are almost translucent. Tropicanna loves damp soil and will actually grow in water, but it performs well in a container with plenty of water. If you have a small pond, try planting Tropicanna in a 30cm pot placed with its top just below the water line. A sheltered spot prevents wind shredding the leaves. Cutting down the foliage in winter promotes beautiful fresh spring growth.

In formal or Mediterranean style gardens, a simpler colour scheme works well as an accent to clipped evergreens and conifers. Pink or Red Flower Carpet Roses are the perfect complement to dark green English box or clipped natives. Agapanthus Snowstorm suits the Mediterranean look with it’s lush healthy foliage and mass of snowy flowers on sturdy upright stems. Snowstorm is popular for mass planting and looks great featured in pots throughout a formal garden.

For instant effect plant up some flowering annuals. Pansies and violas will flower right through winter into next summer if you feed them occasionally and trim spent flowers. Other annuals for instant autumn colour include ageratum, verbena, lobelias, and asters.

And before winter arrives at your place, be sure to fill some pots with spring flowering bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths will flower in earliest spring.

In a mild climate, freesias, anemones and ranunculus planted now will flower in the middle of winter. Plant every couple of weeks for a continuous supply of colour from winter through spring.

Container care

Keeping pots and hanging baskets looking great throughout the season is as simple as one, two, three…

1. Watering
The smaller the pot or basket and the warmer or more exposed its position, the more you will need to water. Watering is less of an issue going into winter, but flowering plants need attention. For neglected plants that have dried out, soak the entire container in a tub of water until the bubbles stop rising. Take care not to over-water in winter. Succulents struggle in cold wet conditions and may need to be moved to a more sheltered spot.

2. Feeding
Use slow release fertilizer at planting time and supplement with a balanced liquid plant food during the flowering season.

3. Grooming
Deadhead spent flowers. In hanging baskets plant generously, but be prepared to cull or replace any sickly annuals during the season. Trim vigorous plants to maintain good shape. Watch for insect pests and diseases.
NB: This release has been emailed. You may also receive a fax copy from NZPA.
Attached jpeg shows Flower Carpet White groundcover Rose.
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