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In The Subtropical Garden: Spring

Things are heating up in the subtropical garden, and the humidity is just around the corner.

Our resident tropical garden expert Arno King has all the tips and tricks, and the best thinks to plant this Spetember in the subtropical garden.


Beaumontia grandiflora. Photo - Cheryl Boyd


Stop and enjoy your garden

Admire the perfumed, trumpet-shaped white flowers of herald’s trumpet, Beaumontia grandiflora, pictured above. This large climber looks spectacular spiraling around a tall trellis, post or tree.


Jobs to do

Protect plants on hot days during the ‘burning weeks’ - mid-September through October - when soaring temperatures are coupled with clear blue skies, low humidity and occasional dry winds. Seedlings, philodendrons, gingers and bromeliads can burn at this time and take months to recover. Make temporary covers for susceptible plants.

Use the sweeps of spring-flowering bulbs in cool climate gardens as a reminder to order subtropical bulbs such as Crinum, Eucharis, Eucomus, Habranthus, Haemanthus, Hippeastrum, Hymenocallis, Ipheion, Lycoris, Scadoxus, Sprekelia, Tulbaghia and Zephyranthes.

Plant spring-flowering annuals into beds with compost and fertiliser worked in. Find pastel tones in balsam, bedding begonia, busy lizzie, candytuft, Chinese forget-me-not, clarkia, cosmos, linaria, love–in-the-mist, nicotiana, petunia, salvia, spider flower (cleome), sweet alyssum and torenia. Keep plants well watered. Cover beds with temporary shade-cloth until plants are established.

Clear and prepare vegetable beds for summer crops. Check soil pH and if below 6.5, topdress with garden lime at the rate of one handful per square metre. Water in. Two weeks later, topdress beds with a quality organic garden fertiliser containing ground rock minerals and humates (humic acid), and compost or composted stable manure and dig into beds with a fork.

Plant reliable warm-season greens including: amaranth (Chinese Spinach), Asian lettuce, basil, Egyptian spinach (Malu Khia), kailan, lettuce (loose leaf), mustard greens, pak choi, purslane, rosella (delicious young leaves), salad rocket, silver beet, tatsoi, Warrigal greens and wild rocket.


About this article

Author: Arno King