What’s Wrong With My Lavender?

What’s Wrong With My Lavender?

Gardens are incomplete without at least one lavender plant. These popular perennials add a touch of purple to flower beds, borders, and everywhere in between. They are also incredibly resilient and low-maintenance, perfect for gardeners with little time on their hands for tedious or fussy plants.

However, that doesn’t mean they are without problems. Like any plant, incorrect conditions and care can lead to issues that, if not resolved in time, will lead to the demise of your plant. If your lavender isn’t looking as good as you’d hoped, take a look at these potential causes to fix it at the source.

Wilting

Originating from the Mediterranean, lavender plants are accustomed to dry summers and rainy winters. They are also drought-tolerant, making them ideal for hot South African weather. They prefer their soil on the drier side and don’t often require additional watering, except in regions without winter rainfall.

If your plant is left to sit in waterlogged soil, either due to excessive rainfall, compacted soil or simply overwatering, it will start to show signs of struggle. The new herbaceous growth may droop over and become soft, while foliage on the woody base growth turns brown.

Make sure the planting area is in full sun, away from any areas where water pools. The soil should be loose and well-draining to prevent any moisture from sticking around in the soil for too long. Lavender rarely, if ever, requires additional watering once established as excessive water will only do more harm than good.

No Flowers or Fragrance

If you’ve ever dreamt of summery fields of lavender in the Mediterranean sunshine, you’ll already know these plants are fans of full sun. They need as much bright light as they can get and certainly aren’t suitable for shaded areas.

If your lavender gets less than six hours of direct sunlight every day, it won’t perform as expected. Firstly, you likely won’t see many flowers, or any at all if the shade is severe. The leaves can also start to become duller in color, losing their vigor. Finally, a sign you may not notice straight away is a change in fragrance. Lavenders in low light can also lose their scent slightly – not something potpourri lovers will be happy with.

Always plant in full sun areas – the more sunlight these perennials get, the better. Those with smaller gardens can also plant in containers, allowing you to move the plant to a sunnier spot as needed throughout the seasons.

Leaf Loss

Many regions of South Africa have moderate temperatures. However, gardeners are not strangers to occasional bouts of frost which can completely ruin entire beds if not protected.

Your lavender’s response to cold temperatures will depend on the type. English lavender doesn’t mind temperature dips and frosty evenings, but French and Spanish lavender cannot tolerate the cold as well. Frost damage can cause these types to turn brown and drop all of their foliage, with degree depending on the length of the exposure.

Choose the right type of lavender for your region or protect your plants from the cold with a frost blanket when any signs of temperature dips emerge.

How To Care For Carnivorous Plants

How To Care For Carnivorous Plants

When it comes to carnivorous plants, following the same care routine as you would for the rest of your house or garden plants will quickly end in their demise. These unique plants have specialized requirements, based on their natural habitats and how they have evolved, that need to be followed if you want to keep your plants around long term. Whether it’s light, water, soil or nutrients, getting care right is key to keeping your carnivorous friend alive.

Light

There are more than 500 species of carnivorous plants, each with its own requirements. Some prefer full sun, while others can survive in partial shade. However, most popular species, such as Venus Flytraps and Pitcher Plants, need full sun for a large part of the day to truly thrive. This translates to at least 6 hours of sunlight when planted outdoors.

When grown indoors as they often are, the situation is slightly different. As light intensity is far lower inside, most carnivorous plants need to be placed in front of a sunny window where they can receive as much direct light as possible.

Those that prefer partial shade are susceptible to burning, and some carnivorous plants that have been accustomed to grow in lower lighting conditions may struggle when thrust into full sun. Check the requirements of your specific plant and slowly introduce them to changes in lighting conditions to avoid any potential damage.

Water

Carnivorous plants evolved in acidic swamps and bogs where nutrients were scarce, causing them to develop their traps in order to survive. Due to these native habitats, it follows that these plants are major water lovers. Their soil needs to be kept moist consistently and some species can even grow mostly in water with just a little soil to keep them anchored.

Again, how often you water will depend on the species, but most prefer consistently moist but not soggy soil. Outdoors and in a sunny spot, this means watering a couple of times a day in hot weather. In these cases, it’s best to place these plants near a water source or where rain naturally collects around the garden to let nature do the work for you. Indoors, you’ll need to water once every few days and more often if the top layer of soil ever appears dry. Only water with collected rainwater or distilled water.

Soil

Unlike most of our garden plants, carnivorous plants prefer soil with little to no nutrients. The poorer the quality, the better it is. The soil should also retain lots of moisture to keep the roots consistently saturated and to recreate the environment these plants love.

When planting in containers, it’s best to make your own soil mix as many potting soil mixtures come with nutrients and added fertilizers that can burn the roots of your plants. A mixture of palm peat and river sand is best, adjusted according to how much water your chosen species prefers. Some can even grow in water alone, so make sure you know what you’re dealing with before you get to planting.

Fertilizer

Fertilizer is a part of many gardener’s routines. However, when growing carnivorous plants, you can cut this step from your schedule altogether. When placed in the right spot, your plants will get all the nutrients they need from the bugs they digest. As they as used to low-nutrient soil, any standard added fertilizer will only end up burning the roots and potentially killing the plant.

If your plant is not getting enough nutrients from bugs naturally, some choose to drop insects from pet stores into the traps to help the plant along. Alternatively, there are specialized fertilizers you can place inside the traps to provide any nutrients that may be missing. Avoid using your standard garden fertilizer and always read the instructions on any product before feeding your plant to avoid doing more harm than good.

Essential Tools, Gadgets & Items For Propagation

Essential Tools, Gadgets & Items For Propagation

While all gardeners love a long trip to the nursery, we don’t always have the time or money to buy the masses of plants our heart’s desire. Luckily, there is one essential gardening skill that eliminates that problem altogether – propagating.

Although it may sound tricky, growing new and healthy plants from scratch is easier than many think, taking only a couple of minutes out of your afternoon. With the right tools and gadgets, the process is made even easier. Invest in these essential tools to grow more plants than you know what to do with.

Clean and Sharp Secateurs

One of the first tools any gardener needs in their arsenal is a high-quality, sharp pair of secateurs. Whether trimming herbaceous houseplant cuttings or hardwood cuttings, or even just pruning plants around the garden, this is one tool on the must-have list.

The Tramontina Bypass Pruner is made of durable materials, including Chrome Vanadium alloy and die-cast aluminum, that ensure they will last for many years of propagating. They do require some upkeep, including regular cleaning and oiling, but they will reward you by making the process of propagation as smooth as possible.

Propagating Mix

As any gardener knows, soil is a vital foundation for growth that has a huge impact on the success of your plants. Newly propagated cuttings require a light and well-draining soil mixture to provide little resistance to root growth while holding enough moisture to encourage root growth.

A combination of perlite, vermiculite and palm peat is perfect for this purpose. While the palm peat retains enough moisture without weighing the mixture down, the perlite and vermiculite improve drainage and aeration to deliver oxygen to the roots.

Mix them together in a ratio of two parts palm peat to one part perlite and one part vermiculite for the ideal propagating mix for a range of plants.

Rooting Hormone

Whether you’re growing softwood or hardwood cuttings, rooting hormone is guaranteed to increase your chances of success. The active ingredient 4-Indole-3lbutyric Acid (IBA) stimulates root growth and speeds up the process of propagating.

There is a specific rooting hormone for each type of cutting:

Make sure you use the right type for your chosen cutting. Simply place some of the powder into a separate container (to avoid contamination of the main container) and dip the end of the cutting into it before planting.

Propagator

Cuttings require certain environmental conditions to grow roots – usually warm and humid. Since no one wants to stand next to their cuttings misting every 5 minutes to increase the humidity until roots develop, there is a handy gadget that does all the work for you – a propagator.

This Garland Small High Dome Propagator is perfect for growing cuttings or sowing seeds. With built-in drainage and a deep container, simply lay your propagating mix inside, pop in the cuttings, and cover with the lid. The hole at the top opens and closes as needed, providing airflow and preventing fungal growth.

With these wonderful gardening goodies, it will be hard to go wrong on your next propagating adventure.

Pruning Mistakes To Avoid In Your Garden

Pruning Mistakes To Avoid In Your Garden

Pruning is an essential gardening activity. Whether you have a small balcony garden or acres of rolling lawns, you’ll need to head out into the garden armed with your pruning shears at some point in the year.

When compared to other simpler gardening tasks, pruning can seem quite technical. And depending on the plant, it often is. This leads many gardeners to make a few easily avoidable mistakes that could end up damaging their plants long term. Many plants are incredibly resilient and will bounce back without trouble, but it’s far better to avoid these mistakes and get the process right the first time than deal with a greater issue later on.

The first mistake deals with the tools used. Whether you’re pruning your herbs or a massive hedge, your tools should always be two things – clean and sharp. Gardening tools can harbour bacteria or fungi from prior use that get transferred to your plants during your next pruning session. This is a surefire way to spread disease throughout your garden, so make sure your tools are always clean before you get going.

They should also be well sharpened. When you’re anxious to get out into the garden and spend time with your plants, it’s understandable that the last thing you want to do is spend your time sharpening tools. However, blunt tools only make the task of pruning more difficult. It requires more force from you to finish, especially when it comes to dense shrubs or trees, and it is likely to damage the plant stems or branches at the same time. This prevents healthy regrowth, which is often the goal of pruning in the first place.

With tools sharpened, you should be ready to get pruning, but you need to ensure you don’t do so at the wrong time. Different plants need to be pruned at different times and may require different levels of pruning throughout the year. In spring, a light trim to promote new growth is normally the go-to, while larger cutbacks are done in autumn. Understand the needs of the specific plant you’re dealing with before you get started. Take hydrangeas as an example – some hydrangeas form flower buds at the end of the season to prepare for flowering the following year. If you cut these buds off during an autumn prune, you will have no flowers next year.

When it comes to the level of pruning done, there is always the risk of pruning too much. Pruning essentially creates open wounds on your plants. They have the ability to heal and come back stronger, but this does take quite a bit of energy. If you prune too much while the plant is growing, it can become stressed and go into survival mode – not good for healthy growth. For other plants that can be cut down to the ground without trouble, this is not really a concern, as long as it’s done at the right time.

And finally, we have the mistake of pruning without a clear goal in mind. You should always have an idea of why you’re pruning before you start, to guide you as to when to prune, how much of the plant to prune, and the technique required to get it right. This will prevent you from making avoidable mistakes in the process or taking it that little bit too far and harming the plants you are trying to help. It doesn’t have to be a tedious or difficult process if you understand your intentions.

Indoor Plant Care Tasks You May Have Forgotten This Year

Indoor Plant Care Tasks You May Have Forgotten This Year

Indoor plant care can be tricky, depending on which plants you own and how many you have. Between providing the right lighting, watering consistently, and watching temperature fluctuations, there is a lot to consider in keeping your houseplants alive.

However, those aren’t the only required tasks in indoor plant care. There are many other small tasks that will improve the look and growth of your plants over time. Some are mostly for aesthetics, which could be considered ‘manicuring’, while others do have a long-term impact on plant health. Make sure you tackle these tasks this year to give your plants the best start possible in 2022.

Clean The Leaves

Your first manicuring task is cleaning your plant’s leaves. Outdoors, plants receive a thorough cleaning when it rains, and enough wind to knock off any unwanted debris. Indoors, that is not the case. Homes are dusty and full of stagnant air – an environment not conducive to clean, shiny leaves.

As dust settles on your plants, their ‘breathing’ is obstructed. Plus, dusty plants, like dusty homes, are not particularly pleasing to the eye. Give your leaves a gentle wipe with a cloth every month or two after watering and wipe down the pot to remove dirt.

Remove Debris

The second task, only taking about five minutes out of your day, is to remove any dead leaves or debris around the base of the plant. In nature, plants are consistently surrounded by decaying leaves and plant debris. They prefer it, as these organic materials decompose and add nutrients back into the soil. But indoors, it’s not a great look, and can attract pests and diseases.

Every so often, just before the plant’s next watering, remove any decaying leaves that have fallen off the plant and any other materials obstructing the soil. You can also remove dying leaves from the plant before they drop. This will promote growth as the plant doesn’t expend any extra energy trying to keep a dying leaf alive.

Pruning

Committed indoor gardeners with unruly plants can attempt to prune once a year, although this is not usually necessary for most indoor plants as they grow far slower than they would outdoors.

Pruning promotes new growth and keeps the plant to a more manageable size. You are welcome to let your plants go wild and skip pruning altogether, but if you want your plants to be more compact, this is a good step to take. Hanging plants in particular may benefit from an occasional pruning to lower the pressure of the hanging stems on the base of the plant.

Repotting

Many indoor plant parents forget to repot, only considering the task when the plant shows signs of stress. However, your plants will be far happier when placed in their new pots at just the right time.

Due to their slower growth, most indoor plants will only need to be repotted every 2-3 years, or when their soil begins to degrade. Quick-growing plants may outgrow their pots faster than that, but mature established plants won’t mind a longer period between repotting.

This is one task you certainly don’t want to miss. As the roots begin to outgrow the pot, they may stop taking up moisture and essential nutrients. Growth will also slow and can stop completely, ultimately killing the plant. Degraded soil will have detrimental impacts on the health of your plant as it lacks nutrients and cannot hold onto moisture. If that time has come, make sure you don’t put off repotting this year.

How To Grow Sunflowers

How To Grow Sunflowers

Sunflowers are guaranteed to brighten up any backyard. Their bright yellow blooms are irresistible, inducing smiles in anyone that sees them. You don’t need to drive past a sunflower field to appreciate their beauty either. It’s easy to grow your own in your garden, giving you gorgeous giant flowers year after year.

Planting

Evident in their name, sunflowers (Helianthus) need plenty of sunlight to grow well. A minimum of 6 hours is necessary, but around 8 hours of unfiltered direct light is ideal. Before planting, amend your soil with compost and a dose of slow-release fertilizer like Atlantic Bio-Ocean – sunflowers are considered heavy feeders.

You may be surprised to find how large these plants actually grow (or, if the blooms are anything to go by, you’ve likely already guessed). The long taproot burrows deep in the soil to support the massive stems. When planting, loosen the soil quite far down to facilitate this growth. When growing in containers, choose a smaller sunflower variety and ensure the pot is deep enough to accommodate root growth.

Seeds can be planted throughout spring and summer once the soil is warm enough to trigger germination. Space seeds around 15cm apart and push gently into the soil. Smaller sunflowers can be spaced closer together, while incredibly tall ones will need a bit more growing room. Water thoroughly immediately after planting to stimulate growth.

To stop your plants flowering at the same time – leaving you with a pile of sunflowers and no clue what to do with them all – plant a batch of seeds every 2 weeks for about 2 months for continuous flowers. Flowers should shoot up within 2 months of planting.

The seeds should germinate in 7-10 days. Keep an eye out for pesky birds in the meantime that love snacking on sunflower seeds just as much as we do.

Care

Sunflowers are not fussy plants, but will reward you with many more impressive blooms under the right care.

Due to their height, sunflowers will benefit from staking, especially in windy regions. Place stakes early to avoid disturbing the roots later on, and continue to tie the stem to the stake with a flexible material as it grows to stop the plant from falling over.

These plants grow best when given consistent water, though they prefer when the soil does not stay moist for too long. Once the top layer of soil has dried out completely, it’s time to water again. If the heads and stems and falling over, they’re telling you they need more water.

The slow-release fertilizer applied during planting should be enough to sustain your sunflowers. If you’re not seeing many blooms, apply a dose of fertilizer high in phosphorus and potassium to improve flowering.

You won’t encounter too many issues with pests and diseases when growing sunflowers, bar the light sprinkling of powdery mildew that is easily removed. Where you will have a problem however, is with the birds in your garden.

Birds are wonderful garden friends, and gardeners usually go by the mantra ‘the more the merrier’. However, they are sunflower-obsessed and will do anything to get to your sunflower seeds. Adopt a quick cut-flower approach by removing blooms as soon as they are ready, or install a protective barrier around your sunflower patch.

Sunflowers provide you with two benefits – stunning flowers and tasty seeds. Cut blooms in the early morning before the heat of the day sets in. They will need a tall vase and plenty of water to keep them standing upright. To harvest the seeds, leave the flowers on the stems until the petals have died back. Once the heads have turned brown, the seeds should be easy to shake off. Give them a rinse and eat them as a snack or toss a few into your favourite salad.

Tips To Build A Spring Garden On A Budget

Tips To Build A Spring Garden On A Budget

Spring, the season of new growth, quickly becomes the season of more spending – especially for avid gardeners. Luckily, you don’t have to spend thousands for the perfect spring garden, especially if you’re a newbie gardener on a budget. There are many ways to start one that won’t break the bank. Try these tips for stunning spring blooms, without the extra cost. 

Plan, Plan, Plan

Restraint is difficult for all gardeners at the best of times. But it’s essential, especially when you’re on a budget. A good plan – and a modest plan – will ensure you stick within your budget while achieving your dream garden goals. 

A good garden plan helps you visualise what your garden will look like and betters your understanding of what your space has to offer, especially in terms of light, soil, and water. Knowing this stops you from excitedly splurging on tons of plants that won’t thrive in your garden anyway. 

Once you’ve got your plan, it’s time to pick some plants. A useful mantra for newbies and novices alike is ‘start small’. Pick a handful of plants with similar needs that suit your garden and see how they do. Gardening doesn’t have to be about instant results; it’s more about the journey to achieving those results. 

Plant Seeds 

The best way to save money is by planting seeds. Even though it takes a little longer, requiring a little more patience and some extra skill, you’ll save plenty of money and have healthier, happier plants. 

Planting from seeds gives you full control over growing conditions and the surrounding environment from the very beginning. This allows your plant to establish itself well in your garden from the get-go, saving you money and time on plant care. 

Many will consider the waiting a negative trade-off. But watching your tiny seeds grow into fully-fledged flowering plants is so rewarding. 

You don’t even have to spend a single cent if you’re considering planting seeds. Gather your own from the existing plants in your garden or get some from friends and neighbours. As your garden grows, it’ll be even easier to build your collection without spending any extra cash. 

Propagate 

Propagating is the most essential skill of budget gardening. Start with one plant, and end up with more than you could imagine.  You simply need one cutting from a friend or kind neighbour to get started. 

There are several ways to propagate different types of plants. Some plants grow shoots or plantlets that can easily be snipped off and re-potted. Others grow just as easily from leaf cuttings. Plants with nodes can be propagated by stem cutting, while those in clusters can easily be divided by separating the plant at root level. 

Recycle & DIY

Ditch the expensive terracotta pots, and the cheap plastic ones, by making your own. Anything can be a container, from old boots to teapots and even old furniture. Drill some holes at the base and you’ll instantly have a  quirky, unique plant container, for free. 

Always ensure your chosen container is big enough for your plant. Before you start, clean whichever container you do use thoroughly with some soap and warm water to get rid of any harmful bacteria.

Another recycling favourite for gardeners is composting. Composting is a great gardening practice that everyone can (and should) do no matter where you live or how much space you have. It’s great for the environment and it saves you money on store-bought composts. 

So many things can go in a compost heap, from garden waste to veggie and fruit scraps. Avoid tossing weeds and diseased plants in your heap, along with dairy and meat. It does take some time before its contents can be used as compost, but the wait is worth it, especially for gardeners on a budget. 

Patio Gardening To Suit Your Needs

Patio Gardening To Suit Your Needs

By: Nolo Ndhlovu

Absolutely anyone can master patio or container gardening. These are words that will make beginner gardeners dance with joy, especially if you know nothing about gardening!

Most plants aren’t finicky about the type of pots you plant them in; you must simply remember to give them space to spread their roots.

Container or patio gardening is a benefit for everyone – those with enough land to grow a beautiful garden with pot plants placed in a shaded area as well as balcony gardening for those who have limited space but would like to create a beautiful quaint plant-filled portion.

Benefits of patio gardening:

Versatile gardening

One of the biggest reasons why patio gardening is popular is that the pot can be moved around. Just imagine placing a pot of rosemary right outside your kitchen – culinary convenience at your doorstep. When you’d like to move it, it’s as simple as picking up the pot and moving it to its new space.

Low maintenance

Plants in containers require less maintenance, as there is a smaller area to tend to attention than a garden bed. Patio gardening is great for beginners because it requires also less care and attention, as it is easy to control the quality of the soil in the pot, which helps to control disease and insect pests.

Be creative

Container planting allows for maximum creativity. There are all sorts of pots you can buy, with different colours, patterns and textures for you to choose from. If you really feel creative, you could take it a step further and paint an old terracotta pot to look like a face and then plant a carex so that it has ‘hair’.

Patio gardening does require a little work

It is true that a patio garden is much easier to care for than a garden, but it requires more watering as the plants dry out faster. Luckily, Starke Ayres new Hydrocache water-retaining gel offers a great solution to get around this problem.

Also remember to fertilise your planted pots for them to get all the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy.

Get started with patio gardening

First, you will need to assess the amount of space you have for the plants you plan to grow. This will help you visualise your garden and make your trip to a Plantland garden Centre much easier.

Also consider choosing plants that pair well together; this will benefit plant growth as time goes by. We say it is best to pair plants with similar needs to make the care process so much easier– pack them together!

For more tips and advice visit us at Plantland.

Thanks Plants Banner
How Plants Can Help Us To Relax and Feel Peaceful

How Plants Can Help Us To Relax and Feel Peaceful

We are complicated beings that experience all sorts of complex emotions, from the ones we enjoy, like feeling love or contentment, to the emotions we wish we never experienced, like anxiety and sadness.

From the green we see to the peace we feel

Most of us live in a fast-paced work environment and have also been dealing with a pandemic for 2 years now. Many of us are working from home, some have lost their jobs, and there are so many other stresses that came along with this pandemic.

Many of the activities we used to enjoy to help us relax have been put on pause, like enjoying fun nights out with friends and attending a public event.

Luckily we still have plants. We have learnt that plants help us to relax and are good for our wellbeing, but what we would like to fully understand is what goes on in our brains and bodies when we are around them.

How do plants help us relax?

We experience wonder, a feeling of mysteriousness, curiosity and abundant love. It could even be called oneness.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines awe as, ‘an emotion variously combining dread, veneration and wonder that is inspired by authority or by sacred or sublime.’

Would you not want to be in state of constant sublimity?

What we know for sure is that being in a garden helps our immune system. Unconsciously, without noticing, we become quiet and hear the buzzing of the bees and the singing of birds.

Having a plant or two in your bedroom purifies the air your breathe, making it easy for your body to rejuvenate and sleep better. Some say that paying attention to the symmetry, fractals and patterns of leaves or flowers is also what helps to reduce stress and direct our attention outside of ourselves.

To summarise, you need plants to help you relax! 

  1. Greenery is good for the brain, body, and soul

When you do not have the opportunity to go outside often, bring plants to your workspace and home to help decrease your blood pressure.

  1. Helps remove toxins from the body

Plants are natural air purifies and remove toxins from the air.

  1. Plants are therapeutic

Looking after plants is a natural form of therapy.

  1. Helps reduce background noise

Big leafy plants help with creating a tranquil mood.

  1. Plants help sharpen our attention

If we pay attention to plants, it will help with concentration.

  1. Plants help us recover from illnesses

Plants can help speed up your recovery.

  1. Plants can help with productivity

Studies have shown that people in workspaces with plants take fewer sick days off work.

  1. Plants could help with your outlook on life

Just pay attention to plants, their textures and colours, and experience a feeling of being both a big and a small part of the ecosystem.

  1. Plants provide us with a sense of companionship

You can talk to them, tell them private things and give them names, all of which help a lot.

Get the ‘in’ on plant relaxers

Having plants can be a source of pleasure! Sharing your space with living breathing beings can make your environment feel happier and healthier.

While this was just a small collection of relaxing benefits, there is so much to explore on the importance of plants. To get more info visit Thanks Plants!

plants relax