How to maintain your garden in January

Take extra care of your garden as plants hit their peak growth period in mid-summer


It’s high energy time for plants in mid-summer as they’re in their peak growth period. To make sure they don’t run out of steam before the end of the season it’s important to keep plants well watered and fed at this time of year.

Liquid or soluble fertilisers such as Tui Powerfeed are excellent for established plants. Alternatively, add water to homemade compost, sheep pellets or seaweed to make a tea-like liquid and spray on the leaves of hungry plants like gardenia and roses.

If your gardenia’s leaves are turning yellow a sprinkle of iron chelates around the drip line will help. Water in well.

Check mulches and make sure they’re thick enough (6-8cm is ideal) to keep ground cool, conserve moisture and keep weeds from getting their roots into the soil.

Some gardeners add homemade compost to their mulch at this time of year, giving flowering shrubs like roses an extra boost.

To save money try one of Grandma’s budget gardening tricks. She used to save the water she used to boil or steam vegetables and let it cool before watering pot plants.

Deadheading is time consuming but well worth the effort with flowering shrubs, perennials and annuals. It will stop the plant from putting energy into making seed from those dead flowers, and instead start developing new flower buds.

If you want bigger flowers, try dis-budding, which means you retain the centre bud and remove side buds on stems.

Midsummer is heaven for sap-sucking pests such as mealy bug, aphids and passionfruit hoppers. They particularly love dry, airless places so get the secateurs out and thin out shrubs and climbers so there is plenty of air movement through the plants. Watering regularly will also help.

Container plants need plenty of water at this time of year, especially if weather is hot and dry. If you’re going away ask a kind neighbour to do this for you or organise an automated watering system for your pots. Grouping them together makes watering easier, and moving them to a shady area is a good idea also.

Always use fresh potting mix if you want a really good performance from potted flowering annuals and hanging baskets. Don’t overfill containers as it makes it hard to water.

Words by: Carol Bucknell
Photography by: Sally Tagg

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