SPRING is one of the most exciting times in the gardening calendar and the Pieris family, commonly called pearl bush (the panicles of flowers resembling strings of pearls) provides a special delight this time of […]
WITH the exception of cherries, now is the time to prune fruit trees.
Pruning stimulates extra growth for more flowers and fruit.
In fact, prune all deciduous trees and shrubs without delay before the spring sap starts to flow from the wounds.
Make sure secateurs and pruning saws are clean and sharp. Remember, the three “Ds”, remove initially all dead, diseased and damaged branches. Then stand back, look at the overall shape of the tree and see if taking the odd branch off can improve the appearance.
Remove all branches that hang low near paths. Take them up to higher than head height, keeping in mind that branches will be lower in summer when laden with leaves. Low-hanging branches can be an eye and face hazard.
This also applies to trees in lawns. With a hat falling over your eyes or facing blinding sun it’s so easy to walk into a low branch when mowing.
Keep whipper snippers away from trees and shrubs planted in lawns, they are great for unwitting ring-barking.
In fact, all trees should be in garden beds, never in lawns. Depending on the variety, trees planted in lawns present numerous problems, especially with roots and possible suckers.
The frequency of lawn watering is excessive for trees, encouraging shallow roots and instability.
Grass grown under fruit trees can reduce the fruit crop by up to 40 per cent!
The regular application of lawn food is also not good for trees, especially fruit trees, which prefer a high potassium plant nutrient for flower production.
TO grow fruit trees on a narrow block, why not try to espalier them on a wall or fence.
As with all fruit trees, it’s important to grow them where they get at least 8-10 hours a day of good sunlight in the growing season. Almost all fruit trees are suitable to espalier using horizontal wires 30 centimetres apart for the height of the wall.
PERENNIALS can be divided anytime from now until early spring. Cut back all the spent flower stems of Sedum “Autumn Joy” to ground level. Immediately, the new, tiny shoots will start to emerge.
It can be a challenge to divide this plant and the easiest way is with a very sharp knife. On occasions I have used a tomahawk. While this seems drastic, the damage had little effect on new growth.
They grow to about half a metre, so plant well back in the garden bed.
Other perennials to cut back to ground level and divide include Salvias and Echinacea.
- AS fruit and ornamental flowering trees start to bud up, spray with Bordeaux copper spray or Kocide when the pink starts to show on the buds. Don’t spray once the flowers have opened as this could kill bees, essential for pollination and without which no fruit!
- Plant lily of the valley bulbs now
- Trim camellia sasanquas if they have finished flowering, top and sides.
- After flowering, give daphne odora a light trim and feed with Neutrog Organic Seamungus pellets.