The cool way to water

Black pantha

The rich colour of Agapanthus “Black Pantha”

THE biggest temptation in extreme heat is to over-water plants.

Often they can show signs of stress in the heat of the day and out comes the hose. This is the worst thing you can do with watering at any time between 9am and 6pm.

The best time to water is in the cool of the evening and water the plants, not the soil where there are no plants.

The best method is still drip irrigation of which I am still only watering once a week in our garden using this method. Admittedly, I am leaving the drippers on for slightly longer, usually for one and a half hours instead of one hour.

If you can, turn the drippers on for about ¾ hour to one hour in the morning and repeat the process for a similar time in the evening. This is known as “pulse irrigation” and allows the water to penetrate to the root zone without run-off.

There is absolutely no need to water every day and, indeed, this can actually cause the death of plants. Naturally, plants in containers will need more frequent watering. Under the current water restrictions it is not permissible to use sprinkler systems between 9am and 6pm.

THERE is a wide variety of plants that revel in the heat, with Amaryllis belladonna immediately coming to mind. The foliage is untroubled by animals so the plant is often used to line driveways on country properties.

Its bold, bright, large, pink flowers gave it the common name of “Naked Ladies” and, while often referred to as lilies (due to the flower shape), it is in reality only a distant relative.


THEN there is the much maligned Agapanthus, commonly called “Lily of The Nile”. And yet, like Belladonna, is not a lily at all and is related to Amaryllis and native to South Africa, not Egypt.

The problem is that its seeds are spread very easily and it is suggested they have spread into native bushland, although I have never seen it in plague proportions. However, it is not usually a problem in urban areas with the plant bringing a bold splash of cool blues and whites on hot days. If the seed heads are cut off immediately after flowering any seeding problem is overcome.

For more suggestions on plants that like the heat, refer to and scroll down to Cedfacts Garden Information Sheet on “Perennials for Year Round Colour”.

EVERY now and again a book is published that neatly fills the bill for specific information. Yates have done it again with their “Month by Month Gardening” by Judy Horton (HarperCollins softcover, 256pp colour, $29.99).

Horton is the long-time principal horticultural advisor to Yates. Many would have attended her talks at Floriade. This is really fantastic value for money and most gardeners do need constant reminders what to do when in the garden.

Each month is divided into sections of what veggies and flowers to plant, and specific sections, such as in January, with hints on water usage.

Planting guides are sub-divided into tropical/sub-tropical, temperate and cold climatic zones. Fertilising, pests and diseases are all covered, naturally using the extensive range of Yates products. This is a great companion book to “Yates Garden Guide”. Judy will be the guest speaker at the Horticultural Society’s March meeting, with details closer to the date.

Arboretum opens

THE National Arboretum opens to the public on Saturday, February 2, which also signals the re-opening of the new home of the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection. The ActewWater Discovery Garden will be open and I will be giving talks and demonstrations during the morning.

There will be no general car parking on site on this day with shuttle buses operating from town centres and some nearby parking areas.

However from Sunday, February 3, the Arboretum will be open seven days a week with private car access to be able to explore the site initially from 10am to 4pm.

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