Hibiscus is the quintessential tropical plant. A few years ago, the hibiscus dropped out of favour from the twin scourges of ‘good taste’, gardening and hibiscus beetles. The onslaught f the cottage-garden fad played no small part, too. Bu hibiscus, like cannas, are slowly making their way back.
Hibiscus rosa-chinensis-known as the ‘Rose of China” and the Hawaiian hibiscus – gained a reputation as a gaudy plant, in spite of its earlier revered status in Chinese art and gardens. The preference for softer, cooler-style gardens may be at the heart of its fall from grace. More likely, the habit of plant breeders to seek more and more bizarre colours and large blooms is responsible. They are very showy if given plenty of warmth, sun and fertilizer.
Hibiscus are also greedy for food and attention. A row of just one variety makes a good hedge in warm areas. If the flowers are single and not too large. (Select carefully for your garden). There are hibiscus for cooler areas, too. The Syrian Rose, H.syriacus, is deciduous, with flowers which are mainly in the blue, mauve and white range. They take frost and cold winters and prefer a dry, not humid, summer. H.schizopetalus, from Africa, is the daintiest, with lacy, pendulous blooms.
March is ideal for planting anemones, vanunculi, freesias, babiana and lachenalia.
Summer is at an end, but it’s still hot. In this weather, evaporation of soil moisture can occur rapidly. Water lawns well and often in the morning or evening to be most effective. Don’t neglect any shallow, fibrous-rooted plants – azaleas, camellias, ericas, roses and small conifers – while you’re watering. Lawns will benefit from aeration now, before winter rears its chilly head. Dig the fork into well-frodden areas and loosen with a variety that will grow in cooler weather, such as a bent or chewing-fesscue type.
You can read: Step in Growing Flowers
Time to tidy up
Clear away exhausted crops. Hoe between other crops to keep weeds from seeding. Pick and store apples and pears as they mature. Ensure you feed citrus with fertiliser applied around the drip line. Remove dying annuals, cut back spent parennials and sweep paths and clear beds of weeds.
Trim overhanging branches of plants that have grown over paths and beds in the summer growing season. Prepare beds now for winter planting. You know that tuberous begonias are reaching the end or the line if yellow leaves are appearing. They will soon go into winter dormancy, so tip pots on their sides and allow them to dry out. Store pots in a dry spot for winter and repot in spring. In tropical areas, relay mulches before the dry period starts to conserve as much moisture as possible in the coming months. Plant tomatoes and eggplant seeds.
When renovating vegetable gardens for winter crops, consider laying sawdust as a path between crops. It will eventually break down as Humus and can be dug into the bed.
You can read: Step in Growing Flowers – Part Two
It’s time to sow onions, carrots, turnips, kohi rabi, spinach, cabbage and autumn lettuce. Plant sweet peas now if you live on the coast or in a warm climate. This encourages dlowers to appear in winter in a mild climate and last until the hot weather of late spring. If you live inland, where winter frost are prevalent, delay planting till late winter or early spring. They will grow fast and flower quicklym but wither when summer sun starts to beat down mercilessly.
What’s flowering now?
Your autumn garden will be awash with colour if it includes tibouchina, Japanese wind flower (Anemone hupehensis). Cassias, pentas, bird of paradise (strelitzia), impatiens, sasanqua camelia, native hibiscus and golden candles (Pachystachys lutea).