Potted chrysanthemums are one of the most popular gifts for Mother's Day.
The plants will last indoors for several weeks if they are only watered when the soil becomes dry.
They should be placed into a well-lit position. Flowers that have died and leaves that have turned yellow should be removed from the plant.
Once flowering has ceased, the plants can either be discarded, or planted into the garden. Stems should be cut back to about 15cm in height.
A sunny, well-drained position should be selected. An application of a liquid fertiliser every four to six weeks will assist the plant in maintaining strong growth.
Plants that have been specially grown in pots will have been treated with chemicals to maintain a dwarf plant structure. These may have also induced flowering that lessens over time. However, once the plants have been placed into garden soil, they will eventually return to a normal plant size.
During the summer, tip pruning of stems will help to produce a more compact plant. Plants that have become overcrowded can be divided into smaller plants.
In addition to potted chrysanthemum plants being given as Mother's Day gifts, bunches of chrysanthemums are also very traditional gifts.
These flowers will last for 2 -3 weeks if several actions have been taken.
Leaves that will be below the water level in the vase should be removed so that they do not decompose.
When the stems are first planted into the vase, the bottom centimetre of each stem should be trimmed off under the water.
This will prevent the formation of air bubbles that would prevent the plant tissue absorbing water through the ends of the stem. Some people like to add a small amount of bleach to the water in order to prevent the formation of moulds.
Replacing the water in the vase every several days and rinsing the stems well also helps.
Take care with onion weed
Onion weed is one of the more difficult weeds. At present, they are evident in gardens and parks, through their small, starry, white flowers that are carried on tall, thin stems. The onion-like smell of the stems and leaves indicates that they are onion weed.
In order to get rid of onion weed, it is necessary to prevent the bulb from storing food.
In lawns and park the presence of onion weed is usually a sign that the grass needs to be growing more vigorously. Healthy lawn grass will out-compete onion weed in a reasonably short time.
Mowing the lawn will remove the leaves, which will cause the bulblets under the ground to eventually starve. However, it is important to remove the flowers before they form seeds as these will only produce new plants.
Onion weed in garden beds is more difficult to eradicate. Removal of the flower head as soon as they appear will offer some control. However, because onion weed is a perennial weed, it stores nutrients and carbohydrates in its bulbs to generate growth the next season, in the same way as spring bulbs such as daffodils.
If attempts are made to pull the plant out the parent bulbs release tiny bulbs (bulbils) from the base of the main bulb, resulting in the growth of more plants. Digging out the plants will have similar results, unless care is taken to remove the bulbs and the surrounding soil that may contain smaller bulbs.
Cutting off the foliage, including flower stems, at ground level will prevent the plants from making carbohydrates in their leaves, as well as reducing the amount of seeds that are produced. It will be necessary to repeat the process, but, over time, control of the weed will be achieved.
The leaves of plants may also be coated with a glysophate-based product. However, because of the thin nature of the stems and leaves, this can be quite difficult and time-consuming. Great care must be taken to apply the poison only to the leaves of the weed, as any other leaves that receive it will also die.
Mini vegetables ready for planting
Vegetable varieties that are more suitable for smaller gardens, including balconies, are available for planting out now.
Beetroot "Mini Baby Beets", Cabbage "Mini Cannonball" and Cauliflower "Mini White" are all varieties that would suit this style of gardening.
Broccolini, which is a modern hybrid vegetable, formed by a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale, produces crops with stalks that are thinner than traditional broccoli. The florets are also sweeter and have a slightly peppery taste.
Pak Choi varieties are also suitable for pot culture and produce white as well as green stemmed plants. The leaves and stems of these oriental vegetables are suitable for inclusion in soups, stir-fries, salads and for pickling. Tender, outside leaves can be harvested, or the whole plant can be used.
A full sun position should be selected for best results. The soil should have been enriched with compost or a general garden fertiliser, added prior to planting.
Growing vegetables in pots has a number of advantages. Pots can be moved around to suit the changing climatic conditions.
Protection from strong winds can be provided for the plants.
Watering, weeding, planting and harvesting can all be made easier if the pots are raised. This makes the growing of vegetables in pots suitable for people with mobility and accessibility problems.
What you can do
- Flower Carpet roses are compact, growing to around 80 cm tall and wide and will flower profusely from spring to late autumn.
- Lawn armyworm is a common autumn lawn pest which feeds on grass blades during the late afternoon and early evening and causes rapidly expanding bare patches.
- Trim hedges before the colder weather sets in, to keep them compact and bushy from ground level.