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Canberra Today 15°/21° | Friday, February 23, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Multiplication is the name of the game

Echeveria… an evergreen that grows well as a ground cover and great for pots and small courtyard gardens. Photo: Jackie Warburton

Good-looking echeverias and Royal Bluebells… JACKIE WARBURTON’S busy in the garden this week.

Echeverias are looking good at the moment. They can multiply quite quickly if grown in the right spot. 

Jackie Warburton.

Some like shade and some like sun but, in general, more sun gets them growing better. Once established, they need little water nor care and grow well in Canberra’s dry, summer conditions. 

They’re an evergreen that grows well as a ground cover and great for pots and small courtyard gardens. 

The flowers are borne on small stalks in spring and flower through summer. Once the flowers finish, they should be removed to prevent aphids and other pest insects being attracted to them. This also helps the plant grow faster. 

Its leaves are fleshy and come in many colours from blue, greens, reds and hybrids of everything between. They are unusual in that their leaf colour can change depending on light conditions. The more sun and the less water will set some echeverias into stress and the colours can be brilliant reds and purples. The greener echeverias need more shade and more water. 

Echeverias grow as a rosette shape and are decorative as a border plant. They can be propagated by leaf cutting as well, and this is a quick way to grow lots of plants as one leaf is one plant. 

Place the torn part of the leaf into sand or propagating mix and leave in a glasshouse or sheltered spot in the garden to grow. Don’t water too often. 

There are some echeverias hybrids that are highly sought after that have wonderful bumps or warts that are raised areas on the leaf botanically called caruncles. A collector’s plant, they are most unusual, but hard to get through our winters. 

They can be a little trickier to propagate than ordinary echeverias and need their heads chopped off, left to dry for a week and then the head replanted to make a new plant. The stem should reproduce small pups but those bumps don’t propagate from leaf cuttings. 

However, if growing this variety of echeveria and the bumps disappear, change the light conditions and they’ll grow back. 

The ACT’s floral emblem, the native Royal Bluebell… named in 1982 for its horticultural merit. Photo: Jackie Warburton

THE Royal Bluebell (Wahlenbergia gloriosa) is the ACT’s floral emblem and can be seen growing in local bushland and other parts of eastern Australia from spring through to summer. 

It was named as the ACT’s floral emblem in 1982 for its desirable features including its horticultural merit and design potential in a naturalistic or designed garden. It is a protected species in our local nature reserves and habitat. 

The native bluebell may still flower sporadically at this time of the year. Seed heads can be harvested once they are papery dry and sown in punnets containing fine sand. Keep moist until germination takes place. 

When tiny seedlings are strong enough and have at least four leaves, prick out of the punnet and place in a small pot to grow over winter and plant in the garden in spring. 

I prefer to grow this bluebell by seed where I want it to grow because the shock of transplanting seedlings can be quite high. If conditions are right, it will self-seed the following year and be a great addition to native gardens and woodland or meadow plantings. 

The most common bluebell to grow is Wahlenbergia stricta and the two species can be confused and hard to tell apart. 

The W. stricta has lighter blue flowers than its counterpart and also comes in white flowers. 

The native mammal emblem for the ACT is the southern brush-tailed rock wallaby and the native bird emblem, the gang gang cockatoo. 

Jottings 

  • Sow seedlings of winter vegetables such as broccoli, parsnips and cabbages. 
  • Continue to place flowers around vegetables to attract bees. 
  • Feed corn every few weeks up until harvest. 
  • Keep pumpkin vines growing with lots of water. 

jackwar@home.netspeed.com.au

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Jackie Warburton

Jackie Warburton

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