Check out the FAQ’s below on maintenance in the garden

We know you having many questions when it comes to maintenance in the garden. Planting is easy as pie but when it comes to keeping your trees and plants well maintained, it’s a whole other game!

Contact us if your question doesn’t appear here and you would like to know more.

maintenance life is a garden

How often must I water my plants?

When a finger pushed into the soil comes out dry, you must water…when it is wet, don’t. Also it depends on the plant.

How often do I feed my seedlings?

For seasonal annuals, every two weeks after planting.

What is the difference between pop-up sprinklers and spray irrigation?

Less damage from dogs, lawn mowers and gardener’s forks.

How do you turn your pink Hydrangeas blue?

Mulch with acid compost and feed regularly throughout the year with acid plant food.

What is the best soil for herbs?

Compost enriched with bonemeal, nitrogen and potassium.

Why is it important to put stones at the bottom of the pot?

The stones will give good drainage.

When is the time to relocate established rose bushes ? And should you prune before or after moving them?

The best time to move any rose bush if it is established or just newly planted is at the end of July to mid August. As regarding the pruning before or after, this seems to be a personal choice – (however, I do prefer to prune before the move.) Once the rose has been re-planted, remember to feed and apply a layer of mulch around the bush.

What is the difference between Potting Soil and Compost?

Potting Soil is a premium screened product with natural microbial nutrients making it the ideal growing medium for container planting. Compost is milled and screened to produce a product that is easily integrated into the soil, adding microbes and organic media for enhanced earthworm activity.

Composted Pine bark is an organic product, is it acidic?

Pine bark is indeed acidic, however during the composting process which lasts for a minimum of 6 months this issue is resolved. During this period of decomposition temperatures reach up to 65 ̊C in the windrows. These high temperatures sterilize the product and at the same time break down the tannins and lignins which acidify the bark. This process will result in a pH of 5.5 – 6.2 which is a norm for optimal nutrient uptake and a good growing media.

I know that mulching reduces evaporation and forms part of a sound Water-wise program. Which product is best suited for mulching my rose garden – Mulch or Nuggets?

Mulching is an excellent water-wise practice and both products would be suitable for retaining soil moisture in your garden. The product selection would be a cosmetic decision – do you prefer the ‘finer’ layer of Mulch or the ‘chunkier’ layer of bark Nuggets. Also bear in mind that the Nuggets will take longer to break down than Mulch, which will add nutrients to your soil in the process, for this reason adding mulch should be an annual spring operation.

What do you think is the best organic fertilizer I can give to our roses?

It really does not matter what you use to fertilise, the importantance is that you do fertilise the roses. Ask at your nearest accredited garden centre.

When is the best time for composting, fertilising and mulching beds and lawns in the JHB area?

Regarding composting, fertilising and mulching this can really be done throughout the year. However, each season brings with it, its own benefit. During the winter mulching and composting provide protection against the cold; having said this - I would not feed lawn during the winter months. Feeding and composting has great benefit during spring and summers as this is when there is a lot of active new growth.

If a Kikuyu lawn has been planted now in June and has been watered well – it is growing very well. Should I mow it at the end of July or wait a bit still?

You should wait until the end of August.

What will be the appropriate compost to use if I want to grow mushrooms in my backyard?

There is no specific type of compost that is required; a good compost of any type (brand) will be suitable.

I've got a few orange vygies in my garden, well actually quite a few. I've noticed that there are what looks like dead flower heads on them. Do these need to be cut off, of will they develop into blooms? The plants are looking very sparse at the moment.

The vygies you are referring to are Vygie Sunset, it is most important to ‘dead head’ the vygies (cut off the dead flowers) These spent flowers will not flower again but new ones’ will develop. Do be careful not to over water these, they perform which better when they are allowed to dry out a bit.

I can not plant shrubs or trees or anything else in my garden - I am on a hill and the ground is full of rock and too hard. What I really want to do is create a garden above my soil level. AND I would love to get hold of the municipal concrete pipe rings ... this is definitely a secret idea - there must be a way of getting some of these.

It doesn't look like the municipal concrete pipe rings are readily available to the public. The next best thing would definitely be concrete tree rings which you can pick up at an accredited garden centre. When creating a garden on a slope, it is important to work in large amounts of compost and a slow release feed, also available from your nearest garden centre.

Here are a few of our plant recommendations that are great for sloped gardens:

Cabbage Tree / Cussonia
Ruth Tree / Ruth Shrub
Wild Olive / Olea
Bauhinia tomentosa

I have finally got asparagus to grow but they are sort of all on top of each other, can you transplant them and if so when and at what height?

Should be transplanted after bearing stalks. Prune back any foliage and divide bulbs, avoid dividing into too small a bulb grouping as this sets the plant back. Use loads of compost.

We had a large Pine tree removed from our garden. Nothing grew underneath it. We want to rehabilitate the soil (was littered with pine needles) before planting some agapanthus plants. Any suggestion on fertilizer / composts to use.

That soil will be very acid now thanks to the pine tree. I would suggest you use lime to neutralise the soil. Visit your local garden centre for lime and advice as to how much. After applying the lime, dig up and rotate the soil and then apply a well-balanced compost. After doing this apply more lime and water in well. Your soil will then be ready for planting roughly 2 weeks after the second application of lime. When planting use super phosphate and you should get great results.

Would the frost kill a tree furn? I have 1 in my garden and with winter I dont want it to die.

Yes certainly if we experience a severe frost it can cause damage to a tree fern, if you are in an area that experiences very cold winters it is a good idea to provide protection. I would suggest a feeding of Nitrosol to help the fern along.

Ours Alstroemeria are looking shabby, can we cut them back?? The colours are gorgeous, but they seem to be rambling.

Better to pull out with a sharp, quick tug on the stem. New growth will come out on side from underground rhizome. Alstroemeria’s should be looking great at this time of the year and the fact that the colours are gorgeous tells me the plant is healthy. Unfortunately by the very nature of the plant the taller ones do ramble, but this need not be a problem by just providing some support i.e. a frame. Should solve the problem. Remember to feed regularly with 3.1.5.

Help! My knockout and iceberg roses are really leggy with few flowers. A while ago they were in full bloom but we went away for 8 days and this seems to be when the problem started.

Leggyness usually happens when roses grow in a shady spot. They need at least 6 hours of sun a day. If they do receive enough sun, then they most probably did not receive enough water when you were away. Then the best thing to do will be to water them very well for the next while (every day for 14 days) and then they will quickly recover. Each rose needs 15 – 20 litres of water per week. When they do not receive enough, they go in to drought mode and do not put on much growth, usually red spider mite infests their leaves. Theya r evisible on the underside of the leaves and make the leaves look mottled. In sever drought the outside of the tips of the leaves start drying up and eventually shrivel. Enough water is the secret to successful rose growing!

My chilli plants are dying, not the leaves but the base and the rest of the stems look like they are drying out.. someone told me that this is due to bugs.. Plus how do I prune my trees to keep them healthy?

This does not sound like an insect problem, but rather like too much water on the Chillies, they do not require any pruning. However they certainly do enjoy full day sun and less water than more!

May i use my dry grass clipping as a mulch for my roses.fruit trees and veggies as they piling up and to much to use on the compost heap How thick should it be spread?

Yes you can mulch with lawn clippings but not too thick about 100mm. I would only dig the clipping in around September.

My granadilla plant is about 4yrs old full of flowers every year but all the flowers drop and no fruit? What should I do?

The two most important factors for non- fruiting are shortage of pollinators and insufficient water. Please check that there are bees visiting the flowers as they are the pollinators for Granadillas. If not you might have to consider hand pollinating. Granadillas do like water and as such should get sufficient deep watering. If they are stressed through lack of water this could impact on their non- fruiting. Feeding with a fertiliser high in potassium is also very important for fruiting as potassium helps with fruit development. Granadillas produce fruit on new growth so they need to be cut back by about a third each year after flowering/fruiting. Trust this will assist in getting your granadilla to fruit.

Can dry powdered fish meal that is normally used for animal feed also be used for fertilizer and is it in an available form or does it need to be composted first to be available for plants in the garden soil?

Dry fish meal used to be used as a fertiliser in agriculture years ago. It is not generally used as a fertiliser in the garden now. There is a product on the market by Neutrog fertilisers that has Seamungus which is a pelletised soil and plant conditioner that is composted chicken manure with added kelp, fishmeal and humic acid.

I have roses in a pot and need pruning - I am still new at it?

You can prune your roses now in July. Prune all dead, diseased and thin branches out. Prune the bush back about a third, always cutting with an eye facing to the outer side of the bush. Seal the cuts with a sealer and spray with Lime Sulphur. If need be you then can add new soil and then start your fertilising for the new season.

I have a young naartjie tree that is bent forward due to a large tree that was growing next to it. I have removed it now but need to know if I can cut the naartjie tree down so that it can grow upright. Can I cut it and when would be the best time. Also, how long can I cut it, I don’t want to kill it.

You can cut your naartjie after the winter. When cutting note where it has been grafted and cut the branches shorter above that.

We have about a dozen lemon trees planted in barrels in our court yard which give a spectacular sight when laden with beautiful lemon. We are naturally reluctant to pick the lemon, to enjoy the sight and just leave them to fall. Is this practice detrimental to future harvests?

The practice is not detrimental. If you have Eureka lemons, they flower throughout the year so it would not matter. The other varieties will flower after the fruit drops.

Recently purchased a beautiful example of cyclamen but since bringing it into our home, it has gone from bad to worse (+/- 3 weeks). Virtually all foliage is wilting and most of the many flowers have expired, with only a few of the new growth putting up a fight. Please help. I do not believe temperature or light to be a problem. The plant is standing in a north facing room and the vertical blinds are closed at night.

Cyclamen need to grow in a cooler well lit room. Do not put it in the direct sun. If standing near your window, make sure that it is not too cold at night. Do not overwater your plant. Water when the topsoil is dry. Do not leave the pot standing in water once watered. Remove all wilting foliage and dead flowers.

I have a rosebush in my garden which I would like to transfer to a pot. I would like to know when to transplant the rose and should I prune the rosebush before transplanting it?

You can transplant your rose now. Yes, you must prune it before transplanting.

Please help.... I've inherited my late parents veggie garden and it’s getting the better of me, as I just don't have the time to plant and maintain. Is there any kind of 'maintenance free' plant that will look after itself without needing much help (except Cactus)?

Unfortunately, a veggie garden is a lot of work and it is not maintenance free. It does need water, weeding, feeding and maintaining and as it is seasonal, you would have to sow fresh seed or plant new plants. There is no vegetable that will look after itself.

I am worried about the condition of my white iceberg climber, currently losing all its leaves. Is this normal - I do not think it happened last year. I use rose fertiliser, rosecare and kohinor.

It is normal for your Iceberg Climber to lose leaves, as roses are deciduous. As soon as it is very cold they start losing their leaves. Your feeding and caring programme is correct. If you want to prune your rose, do it now.

I have just moved into my own place (townhouse) with a lovely garden. This however is my first garden and I have no idea how to look after my garden. Here are a few general questions I have: 1. How often do I water the grass in winter and summer respectively? 2. When should we compost the lawn? 3.There are lots of succulents in the bedding of the garden. How often and for how long should they be watered? 4. How often and for how long should the trees be watered? There are a whole mixture of different trees.. 5.The bedding is covered in rocks for decoration between the succulents and trees. These are now covered in leaves. Shall I leave the leaves so they create a kind of compost or should I remove the leaves. Don't know how to do that though as I cant rake them! 6.What do I do to the areas at the back of the garden where all the grass has died? How do I care it back to life?

1: If the grass/lawn is really dry you can water it every 4 weeks, however in summer it needs to be watered once a week if it is dry. 2: You can fertilise your lawn in spring. 3: Succulents are water wise plants and only need to be watered when the soil is dry. 4: Trees should be watered well once a week in summer but can receive less in winter. 5: You can leave the leaves in the beds and these will decompose with time. They act as a good mulch which helps preserve moisture. 6: If the grass has died, you will have to replant it. If the grass has gone brown, it is probably still alive and in the beginning of spring, you can sprinkle a lawn fertiliser over it and start watering it.

Will Malasol kill wax scale?

Yes Malasol should kill the wax scale. Do add a ‘sticker’ (a drop of dishwashing liquid or a commercial sticker) to your mixture as this will help the insecticide ‘stick’ to the scale. If the Malasol does not work try Oleum - this is a mineral oil and it should smother the scale.

I germinated an organic lemon seed which grew into a beautiful lemon tree. The tree is about 2 years old now but now I see the beautiful green leaves are falling off and smaller, light green leaves are coming out the leaves and are curly as well.

Lemons should be planted in well drained soil and watered well and regularly. Check that the soil drains well as this could cause the leaves to drop. Feed your lemon with an organic fertiliser like Bounce Back every 3 months. For the curly leaves use an organic insecticide like Margaret Roberts Organic Insecticide.

When is the best time to replant a naartjie tree and should it be in a shady or sunny area? Should I cut the branches before or after replanting?

Replant the naartjie tree in the beginning of spring. A naartjie prefers to grow in a sunny area. Cut the branches just before you replant.

I have a granadilla bush that came crashing down from from its trellis a few months ago. I had to cut it back, since it lay across a pathway. It started sprouting new growth, for which I was very pleased. However it is now looking rather pathetic, with no new growth and the few leaves it has, are turning yellow. This plant is very dear to me as it has blessed me with a lot of fruit.

Check that your soil drains well and do not overwater the plant as that can cause yellowing of the leaves. As you have cut it back, the plant will need less water now.

Please could somebody send me some advice regarding my strange growing rose bushes? I have a few that have got 1 side growing higher than the other, nothing wrong with the actual rose, just 1 side higher. Shall I prune both sides to the same height, or just the side that has grown abnormally tall?

Roses like to grow in the sun. Do your bushes get the same amount of sun all round? Too much shade on the one side could cause it to grow shorter. You could prune the tall side shorter than the other side.

I have got two Bokashi Bins. I have a young lemon tree in a big pot placed in a sunny spot in my small garden. I have started to give the lemon tree some Bokashi tea; do I need to add anything else to the lemon tree?

The Bokashi tea is good for the tree. Do feed regularly and water well.

I am new to Brunfelsia, in my new garden (just moved in 6 months ago). The Brunfelsia is in semi-shade, next to a western wall, getting morning and afternoon sun, but mostly afternoon. I see other brunfelsia flowering in other gardens in the area now, but mine is not and has become dilapidated. It just looks sad. I am sure it is time to prune it, but it hasn't been pruned for years and it wasn't properly watered before. Advice please?

Do prune the Brunfelsia now, give it some 3:1:5 fertiliser and dig some decomposed compost around it. Water regularly. It should send out new growth as soon as it warms up. It could take a while before it starts producing flowers again.

Where can one get tree peonies (not herbaceous) as they dont seem to be available in SA What are their cultural requirements?

Tree Peonies like to grow in semi-shade in moist, fertile, well drained soil. Protect from bad winds. For plants try or

When do I know that our potatoes are ready to harvest. Do they flower or what sign do I look for before I start digging. The plants are about 75 cm high at the moment and very healthy. Planted them end May.

The potatoes will flower and when the tops start dying down you can start harvesting.

I got a "Apiesdoring Bonsai" as a gift... Please advise how to look after it.

Keep your Bonsai in the sunny spot not too hot. As it is in a shallow pot it needs to be watered every day if needs be. Do not allow it to dry out. To keep it compact pinch out the tips of the new growth.

I have some princess lilies planted in the ground… Lovely show then they go dormant for weeks. Well watered and well fed. Have a problem with no shoots coming through

They can go dormant over the cooler months. New shoots should appear when the warmer weather starts. Although they do like to be watered well, be careful not to over water as the fleshy bulbs can rot.

Please help! I recently planted 3 young conifers (lime green leaves) in tall pots. Very little sun but lots of "light”… I sprayed the three with Koinor on advice from nursery but now I see that where I sprayed, the "leaves" have dried and become a shade of greyish green. If the affected area is touched, the little leaves and branches merely break off. What should I do to save these conifers that look so beautiful in the pots?

It sounds as if the Koinor could have burnt the conifers. Try and cut the dried branches and leaves of the plant. If the branches have not died to far down they should send out new shoots. Ensure that you water well and that the drainage is good.

When is it a good idea to cut back Petrea? When can I sow seeds of Columbines? With regard to Clivias, does one keep the colours separate from each other? eg. Yellows together?

You can cut the Petrea back after the first blooms. You can sow Columbines in November or in Autumn. It is a good idea to keep Clivia colours separate.

I have noticed that my Clivias' leaves are covered with a black oily looking substance. Is there anything I can do about it?

You could try wiping the leaves clean with water and a dash of dishwashing liquid. If that does not work cut the leaves off. You then should get new, clean leaves.

Our African Violets are looking very limp and sad. They flowered beautifully last year. They belonged to my late sister in law. They never flowered and after she passed on, they put on a most beautiful show. These plants are precious to us. I have fed them. Will it help if I repot them and when do I do that? I don't want to lose them. Please advise.

African Violets like bright filtered light. An east facing window sill works well. Do not overwater as this could cause the leaves to go limp. Water when the soil surface is dry. Either water from underneath the leaves or let the plant draw up water from the saucer. They like to grow in a well drained, loose medium. They do not like a room where the temperature is cold and low at night. You can repot them now.

Can you please tell me when I can dead head proteas and pincushions if in fact I should? Am I allowed to prune these shrubs and how and when? We are new to the area from KZN and I don't know much about fynbos except that I love it!

You can prune your proteas and pincushions any time you want to. A good time is just before a growth spurt. As soon as the flowers start dying down you can dead head them if you want to. Dead heading is a form of pruning.

Please could you send me some tips on how to grow ockra in Pretoria?

Plant the ockra seed from October to February. The soil temperature must be warm. They don’t like cool soil. Once they have sprouted plant them out in 4-6 weeks. You should be able to harvest the pods in 11-14 weeks. Pick the pods within a week of the flowers opening.

What type of a monthly feed should roses get?

There are a lot of Rose fertilisers on the market. You can try Ludwig’s Vigarosa, Wonder Organic Fertiliser or Wonder Colourburst Rose Food.

Do you have the recipe for homemade rose food?

3 cups water, 2 tablespoons molasses, 1 tblsp Epsom salts, 2 tblsp apple cider vinegar and 1 tblsp kelp. Repeat after 6 weeks.

I have a 4 year old grapefruit tree which flowers beautifully but does not bear any fruit. When I bought the tree, it had one fruit on it and last year it produced only one.

Your grapefruit tree needs to be watered regularly and well especially when it flowers. Feed it with a 3:1:5 fertiliser and keep it well mulched especially in dry times.

Please advise what I can treat my lemon tree with. It has lots of lemons but lots of aphids and leaf curl It was free of this pest until 2 weeks ago. Initially a stemic spray was used on the tree but we could not eat or use any lemons for a year. For the last 8 months I have been treating the tree with a mixture of vinegar and soapy water spray. Which has been working but I did not treat it for about three months now I have a problem. Before I was treating the tree every two months with the spray. Please assist as to what I can do but still use the fruit of the lemon tree.

Use Margaret Roberts insecticide spray or Oleum.

Have you any tips on transplanting Maidenhair ferns? It would be much appreciated. I find them growing in the most unlikely places, like in the cement between the bricks on the steps up to my front door & on the built-in braai! Very pretty but impractical!

Cut the bigger leaves off leaving the central growth before transplanting the plant. Plant the Maidenhair fern in partial shade to full shade in well drained compost enriched soil. Water well - do not let it dry out, but do not overwater.

My hibiscus leaves are turning yellow. I have been watering them a bit more lately; could this be the problem?

Yes too much water can cause the leaves to turn yellow. Too little water can also cause the leaves to turn yellow. Hibiscus like to grow in moist well drained soil. Too cold a spot or excessive wind can also cause yellowing of the leaves.

I would like to know how to prune protea trees as well as yesterday, today and tomorrow trees?

You can prune Protea bushes anytime. A good time is just before the plant undergoes a growth spurt. Remove any weak, crooked or dead branches completely. To shorten the branches, cut just above a bud. Cutting dead flowers out is also a form of pruning. If you want to prune your Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, cut the branches back just after the flowering period in spring. If it is a younger plant, just cut back the branches lightly.

What is a good small evergreen tree for a large container in a spot that receives sun until about 12h00? I do not want to plant a conifer or a palm.

Try a Podocarpus henkelii (Yellow wood) it grows well in a container and some shade. You could also try a Viburnum odaratissimum and train it into a tree.

I have an area of Carex frosty curls. Having come through winter, the grasses are looking brown and dry around the edges. Do I cut them right back or just leave them?

Cut them back - they should send out new growth. Remove any dry blades.

I'm trying to get info re the best fertiliser to use on alstroemerias. Some in beds and some in pots. The next problem is fertilising strawberries. Grown in pots I find the strawberries burn very easily if I use granular 515. Any suggestions?

In spring feed with a 2:3:4 fertiliser. Use a 8:1:5 fertiliser when the buds are forming and repeat monthly until finished flowering. Try using a liquid fertiliser or an organic fertiliser for the strawberries.

I have one Raspberry, one Blackberry and one Blueberry. Would like to know why the first two berries have not yet flowered. The Blueberry flowers well and has so far produced four berries. How much sun/shade do they need. The blueberry is in a pot. Live in Pretoria East. They are fed regularly, the blueberry has acid food. Hope you can help. The first two berries are thornless. Thank you.

The Raspberry and Blackberry like to grow in the sun in well drained, acidic soil. Water well. They don’t like cold wet feet. They often only bear the second year.

Please could you give me some advice on how to grow Trigidias? Mine is looking really sad.

Tigridias like to grow in an open, sunny spot in well drained soil with plenty of moisture. Check that the soil drains well. Water well but do not overwater.

I planted lavender but no flowers blooming. What can I do to get my plant to produce flowers? Any advice would be appreciated.

Lavender likes to grow in the sun in most soils, but they prefer the soil to be well drained. Water well but do not overwater. It depends on which type of lavender you have. Some types only bloom late winter to spring.

I have planted 20 hydrangea plants and am not sure how to deal with them. Any advice?

Hydrangeas like to grow in dappled shade or morning sun in moist well drained soil. Use an organic fertilizer like Atlantic Bio Ganic All Purpose. Water well. Try to protect the plants from strong winds. If your soil is acidic the flowers will be blue and if the soil is alkaline the flowers will be pink. Prune the plants each winter.

Bought beautiful seedlings of flowers at a local garden centre including the ever resistant Marigold as well as the fertiliser to make the lawn out of the yard "go green" in summer but to no avail. It was before springtime. The grass is "dusky" and no sun flowers, all burnt by the Sun. Only a small patch of surviving Marigolds. Been trying to water during the night once a week but by the next day at 12h00, it is dry again. What can you advise to protect against this? I've realised that i'm wasting wasting water that is NEEDED by our farmers.

To help conserve the moisture around the Marigolds, put a layer of mulch around them. If you applied fertiliser to the lawn in spring, you would have to keep watering the lawn to keep it green.

I received an orchard, how must I look after it that it can bloom again?

Orchids grow in bright light but not direct sunlight. They grow in a bark medium and need to be watered as the mix dries. They like good air circulation and humidity. They need to be fertilised. There is orchid fertiliser available.

When is the best time to harvest grapes in the Western Cape?

It would depend on the variety of grape. You can start harvesting in December through to March

How tall are the "prince of wales" variety of celosia? And should they be planted in sun or shade?

They grow in the sun. They get 30-40cm high.

Hi - papaya trees growing from compost made at home. This year, blooms appeared in shape of fruit, opened and fell off. Other trees are close by - believe that is necessary. Would appreciate any advice on how to produce fruit. Thank you!

Papaya trees need to grow in the sun in well drained compost enriched soil. They need to be watered well especially in summer. They need to be fertilised regularly. Some papayas do need cross pollination, i.e. you need to have a male tree to cross pollinate female trees. The female tree bears the fruit.

I've got bad luck growing strawberries, fruit very small. Feed with Seagrow.

Strawberries like to grow in the sun in well drained compost enriched soil. Water well and regularly. Instead of feeding with Seagrow, try feeding with a 3:1:5 Organic fertiliser.

We recently moved into a new townhouse and the garden has been neglected. The soil has lost a lot of nutrients and we have termites(Yikes). So my question is - what do I do , to make this garden new again?

Use Kamikaze or Zero Harvester Termite Bait to get of the termites. Once rid of the termites you can start watering the garden. Wait until the end of winter then you can start feeding. If you want to fertilise now use Atlantic All Purpose which is an organic fertiliser.

Good morning, I live in Somerset West. I do have my own compost heap, when can I add compost to my garden?

Whenever you plant add compost. At the beginning of spring you can add compost.

Which kind or type of organic fertiliser are suitable for gardening to ensure that the soil gets enough nutrients needed as possible if one cannot afford fertilisers?

If possible make your own compost using your garden waste or any green waste(kitchen peels etc.) Otherwise if you have leaves that fall into the garden leave them there as they will decompose and feed the garden.

When can i prune my roses is before the winter starts or after which month is the best to prune if we are in May now?

Prune the roses in July.

I would like to know when it is the best time to prune Hydrangeas in the Western Cape please. 

July is the best time to prune in the Western Cape.

When to prune roses and gardenias?

Prune roses in July. Gardenias do not need to be pruned but if you want to prune them it must be done after flowering. They flower in summer.

We live on a plot in Protea Ridge, Krugersdorp. We only moved in March. We would just like to know if you could possibly tell us what plants should be covered to protect them from the black frost. We already have a bed of flowers that have been affected but we not sure what other plants should be covered? We have quite a big bed of roses (old bed) so not sure if they should also be covered? Unfortunately we not very good gardeners so it’s all a learning curve for us.

The roses do not have to be covered as they are dormant in winter. Cover the roots of frost tender plants with a thick layer of coarse compost. Listen to the weather forecast and if frost is protected cover the frost sensitive plants and open up during the day.

I have many conifer trees and in summer and spring we water once a week deeply. How much should we water them in winter and autumn?

When the soil starts cooling down you can water less, every 10 days should do.

What wall orientation is beat for Espalier training of fruit trees in Gauteng?

The trees need at least 6 hours of sun a day. A south, east or west facing wall is best.

Will it be OK if I use weed guard under pebbles? Can weed guard be spread over existing grass?

Yes weed guard can be used under pebbles. You can spread it over existing grass but it will not kill the grass. It is better to remove the grass and then spread the weed guard over the area.

I live in Johannesburg, South Africa.  My guavadilla has grown beautifully with lots of flowers which set into fruit that reach the size of golf balls, turn yellow and fall off. However when you cut them open there is no pulp inside  (like a granadillas)  just a very spongy thick skin with no seeds.

The guavadilla needs to be watered regularly. Is it getting enough water? That could be the reason that they turn yellow and fall off and have no pulp inside.

I have two Cycasis (not Cycads) in pots. They are in semi shade. They have yellow spots on all leaves and and some of the leaflets are turning yellow completely. I have tried repeated spraying of an anti rust chemical - no improvement. I have noticed that most of the cycases I have seen elsewhere have the same problem (Gauteng)

Cycas need well drained soil. Do not overwater. The yellow spots could be a tiny scale. Try spraying with Oleum.

How and when to prune freylinia tropica? How much and what kind of fertiliser can i use on freylinia tropica?

You can prune the Freylinia at the beginning of spring. If it is an older plant cut out any dead or unwanted branches and shorten/top the rest of the plant. If it is still young, prune lightly to shape.

Does a lemon tree need regular pruning? When? How to care for a lemon tree?

Only prune out dead diseased and thin twiggy branches. Lemons need regular water. Water well in the hot dry months. Do not let it dry out. Fertilise in July, December and March with All Purpose Organic fertiliser.

Hi there, my Nectarine tree is starting to blossom. Should I fertilise now?

You can, but it is better to wait until the end of July.

Regarding newly planted Hybrid roses, should they be pruned in their first year as with older bushes towards the middle /end of July.

Yes you can prune in July. Prune out all dead, diseased and thin branches. Prune main branches back to 50cm.

A three part question please: When and how do I prune a 3-4 year old peach tree? when and with what do I spray it? How do I stop the Oriels & muisvoels from eating the fruit. We tried a net last year but the tree grew through it.

Prune the peach tree in July. Prune out all diseased, dead and weak branches. Cut back the main leaders by half, always to an outward facing bud. Once you have pruned spray with lime sulphur. Covering the tree with a net is the way to go.

I have a fynbos garden in Betty's Bay. The soil is acid and plants flourish except in a small area where grey water from showers & washing machines drains away. What can I do to improve this presumably alkaline soil area?

You can add well decomposed acidic compost.

I live in George and have 3 proteas in pots in my garden, and a very healthy Compacta growing. I just wanted to check with you that I can fertilise them all with Seagro, the ones in pots are looking a little faded but did have nice flowers this year. My garden is approx 2 years old, and I have never fertilised the proteas before.

Proteas can be fertilised with organic fertiliser, so you can use the Sea Gro. Wait until the beginning of spring before feeding.

With the effects of the drought, how can I go about planning the repair of my lawn for summer? Gauteng

In spring you can scarify to remove dead matted grass, then you can apply a dressing(a mixture of soil and compost) to fill any holes and even out the lawn. Feed the lawn with a fertiliser suitable for lawns and start your watering programme again.

When and how do I prune hydrangeas? Eastern Cape

Prune Hydrangeas in July. Cut back the stems that have flowered by half their length and remove all all dead, diseased, damaged or weak growth.

We live in Knysna, and I just need to know, is it a good time to prune a Chilli bush now? We had frost last night, and I don't want the bush to die.

Wait until there is no more frost. Then you can prune it back.

I have planted a "pompelmoes" in our smallish garden last year. It stands at about 2 meters high at the moment. How long before it bears fruit, is there any pruning to be done, if so, when and how? Also do I fertilise? Gauteng

If it is a grafted tree it should start bearing in the next year or two. You do not need to prune, only remove dead, diseased and twiggy growth. Water well and regularly. Fertilise in July, December and March with 3:1:5 or an organic fertiliser.

I have a dipladenia (the climbing variety) and wonder when is the best time to prune it and how drastically I should do it. I will be very grateful if you would let me know. 

Prune the Dipladenia in the beginning of spring. Do not prune it back too drastically.

How hard should I prune wild dagga? Western Cape

Prune the stems off just above ground level and it will reshoot.

Please can you give me advice around my echinacea. It is now 2 years old. Beautiful purple flowers, very happy but some of them are looking “onnet”, old, without leaves on the lower part of the plant. Must I cut the whole plant short, will it grow back or only the old branches? Will it affect the plant. It's sooo beautiful, don’t want to do harm to them. Almost the same with my blue felicias. They are so happy but they trend to “fall open” at some places.

Is it an Echinacea (Cone Flower) you want to prune? If so, you can cut it back by half. Prune the Felicias lightly to promote new growth.

It is getting to the end of July but the roses are still blooming and news shoots are forming in the stems. When does one prune the roses that are in bloom? Gauteng

As the new shoots are forming you are going to have to sacrifice the blooms and prune now.

I read with avid interest, Chris Dalzell’s article in the Saturday Independent.
He recommends that we should prune our Cape Honeysuckle. I am loathe to do this as mine have just come into their second flush of blooms and looks magnificent.
The new little leaves are in abundance and it flowers all Winter long. I have been on this property 3yrs now. Why would we need to prune it when it is at its best or do I perhaps have a micro climate for it to behave in this way?
Any ideas from your team would be most appreciated as I have so enjoyed learning to garden ‘on a sand dune’ and what grows almost right on the shoreline as opposed to my formal gardens in Morningside and Johannesburg. Gauteng

You can prune the Cape Honeysuckle after it has bloomed. It grows fast and will soon push out new growth and flowers.

When and how hard can one prune Hibiscus plants in Johannesburg?

You can prune the Hibiscus at the end of August. You can prune it back quite hard depending on the age and size of the tree. Hibiscus bloom on the new growth.

Can you prune a Gardenia? How and when is the best time? Gauteng

You can prune a Gardenia after it has flowered late summer/autumn. Remove dead, diseased and straggly branches. Prune back woody branches. Flowers appear on new wood.

My naartjie tree is flowering now. What fertiliser must I feed it with to get the best results for good and plenty naartjies? Mpumalanga

You can feed it with 8:1:5 or 3:1:5 now. Naartjies can be fed 3 times a year - July, December and March.

How often should I apply fertiliser on roses and which type fertiliser is the best? Gauteng

You can feed with Vigarosa in September, December and March.

When should I feed my grass? And when should I start feeding my garden? Roses have had food already. Western Cape

September is a good month to feed the garden. You can also start feeding your lawn at the beginning of spring.

When must I cut my dietes back? Western Cape

You do not have to cut Dietes back unless it is damaged or has dead leaves (which can be removed any time of the year). You can cut back at the beginning of spring.

When is the best time to plant Vinca seedlings and where can I buy them? Gauteng

Towards the end of October and November. We unfortunately don't sell anything, but have a look at the "Garden Centres" section on our website

What do i feed a Chinese jasmine (J. polyanthum) please? Frans, Western Cape

Feed it with a 3:1:5 fertilizer or an organic fertiliser like Bio Ganic All Purpose

I am trying to restore my garden to good shape. I live in Johannesburg and done some research around the plants I can use. The soil is not good and although I always add compost, nothing I plant seems to catch on well. What can I add to the soil, I know Mulch, Leaf Mould, compost. But should I add lime or some other treatment to make the soil more fertile? 

Use the compost, etc and add Bone meal and an Organic fertiliser like Bio Ganic All Purpose

The sweetpeas that I planted have a lot of foliage but very few flowers. Could you tell what the problem is? Any advise on lawn treatment after winter? (Gauteng)

Sweetpeas like to be planted in the sun, the soil must be dug deeply when sowing seeds, and general fertiliser must be added. The plants must be watered well and the roots must not be allowed to dry out. Too much organic matter can cause them not to flower but instead put all the growth in the foliage. Also letting the roots dry out could cause not to flower. Lawn treatment:
Mow the lawn short, apply a lawn dressing to fill in holes and fertilise with 7:1:3 or Bio Ganic Lawns. Water well.

How to fertilise young blueberry & 1 year old asparagus plants in pots? Northern Cape

Fertilise the Blueberry with Nitrosol or Bio Ocean. Fertilise asparagus with a 5:1:7 fertiliser and the next year with a 5:1:5 fertiliser.

My lawn has been overtaken by weeds, both clover and a similar runner weed with bigger rounder leaves. I've tried sprinkling lime over the grass (once) with no effect at all. Two weeks later I've just done a second dose, but again no apparent success. What can you recommend? KZN

Try Turfweeder or Hormoban

Your thoughts on rose pruning in early October please? Western Cape

The roses should be growing well now. If you want to prune now, just cut the tips shorter.

When should I prune fuchsias? Mine are in semi shade and grow very lanky. When should I sow cleome seeds?

Fuchsias should be grown in semi-shade. Prune them back in spring. If needed you can prune back lightly now, but you will be cutting flowers off. Cleome seeds can be sown in spring for an early show or sown in midsummer for a later show.

Badly neglected roses: can I prune them immediately (November) or wait until next July? I know it will take 3 months to flower. KZN

Yes prune them now. Fertilise and water well and soon you should have new growth.

What time of the year do you prune roses in Cape Town? Western Cape

The last week in July and first week in August

How would I prune a previously dying tree that has started growing again?

Select a number of strong growing shoots as main branches and cut the other off at the bottom. Cut all dead wood out.

How do I get rid of broad leaf grass among my lawn - Kikuyu grass? KZN

Spray with a broad leaf herbicide like Turfweeder

Our roses look terrible. Can we prune them now? Is it too late to give them a summer pruning? Northern Cape

It is late for a summer pruning, but if they are looking bad, give them a light pruning.

When is the best time to prune a Budlia. I have noticed that my three Budlias have a mossy spotty fungus on the leaves and would like to know if pruning now (April) will affect the new shoots coming out just before winter? How would I treat the fungus and what may have caused this. Gauteng

The best time to prune is early spring. You can prune now the new shoots should harden before winter. Spray the fungus with a systemic fungicide.

Please advise when and how much I need to prune my Margaret Roberts lavender? Western Cape

You can prune it in autumn but the best time is the beginning of spring. Cut the plant back by 1/3

How do I prune vygies? Free State

If it is a creeping type, cut the runners shorter. If it is a bush, shorten the branches.

Should one cut back Leonotus Leonuris (wild dagga) after it has flowered, or leave the flower spikes to encourage flowering next year? Eastern Cape

Cut back after flowering.

In view of the very severe drought we are experiencing, would it be advisable to cut back my perrenials now rather than later? I'm thinking of baleria, plectranthus, hydrangeas, and ribbon bush. all in pots. Western Cape

Cut the plants back once they have finished flowering

As the end of May approaches and I start pruning bushes etc shall I compost the garden or wait until spring? Gauteng

You can put compost down now.

I have a huge sloping garden in Hout Bay. Just sand! It is naturally looking terrible at the moment after the drought. It is so big and I cannot afford a thick layer of compost so I was wondering if I should throw some 3.1.5 all around and gently rake it in before a shower. Will this feed the tired looking plants? The plants are mostly shrubs. 

If you get regular rain you can put down 3:1:5 - be careful that you don’t burn your plants. However, it would be better to wait for spring to fertilise when new growth starts

I stay in the Eastern Cape in Bathurst which is about 5Kms from the sea as the crow flies.I have lost quite a few of my young citrus trees as well as Litchi trees, one Macadamia. Was wondering what fertiliser can i use to boost the growth of my young trees as they seem not to develop. I have a soft loamy, sandy soil. Strong winds here also cause a lot of damage on my young avo trees. This is a sub tropical climate. If you need any other info please let me now. Fruit trees are rather expensive here in the Eastern Cape and to lose them is not a option.

Fertilise with a 3:1:5 fertiliser, water well and regularly especially in the growing season. Apply a mulch around the trees to help conserve moisture.

Is it prudent to prune fig trees? Western Cape

Fig trees bear fruit on new wood. It is not necessary to prune a young tree. You can prune an older tree lightly.

What shall I use to feed the Viburnum Simensis? Eastern Cape

3:1:5 or Atlantics All Purpose.

I have a magnolia shrub in my garden. The birds eat all the buds before they bloom. My question is: can one prune it now and very drastically and to what height? It is currently about 4m high. Gauteng

It is best to prune it after flowering. Magnolias are slow to recover from drastic pruning so that is not advised. If you must prune no more than a third should be pruned back. 

What can I do to help my garden in winter? Gauteng

Place a layer of mulch around the plants to help retain warmth in the soil, and use frost cover on frost-sensitive plants.

How many times a week should I water my grass in winter? Gauteng

It will depend on the type of lawn you have. If the grass has died down, once every two weeks is fine. If it is an evergreen lawn, 15minutes twice a week.

I am from Pretoria West and would like to know how and when to prune my Mango and orange tree, also is it advisable to severe prune two years in a row? after I pruned severe last year? Gauteng

You do not need to prune both the mango and the orange, only remove dead, diseased or twiggy growth.

With the unusual weather we are having in the Eastern Cape, my roses are still in full bloom. Must I still prune them back?

Yes do prune them - wait until the end of July.

I need to know what I should be doing for my rosebushes at this time of the year please? Port Elizabeth

The roses need to be pruned now. Then they can be fertilised and a watering programme can be started.

Which type of fertiliser to use for the lawn after cutting it very low. Because I don't want to put lawn dressing this year, I have been putting it year after year. Gauteng

Use Atlantic Bio Ganic Lawns

How do I prune my old hydrangeas? I have read so many articles but I am still confused. Gauteng

Remove dead, old and weak stems. Prune remaining stems back to above a cluster of buds. After pruning, feed with hydrangea food and put a mulch around the plants.

When and how do I have to prune my poinsettias please? Gauteng

Prune them in spring. Cut the stems back to 2 healthy buds. If you prefer a more bushy plant, pinch out the tips when growing well.

4) What food do I give japonicas .please!! Jeannette, Western Cape

Feed with an acid fertiliser.

I have a few citrus trees and peach trees (about 4 years old) and would like to know what fertiliser, how much and when to apply it to the above trees. Northern Cape

Citrus-use a 3:1:5 fertilizer or the organic Bio Ocean in July, December and March. Peach- 3:1:5 in early spring and autumn.

How to deadhead snapdragons please? Gauteng

You can either cut the flower stem at the bottom or you can cut the dead flower off above some leaves nodes and it could send out new flower stems.

What time of the year should I cut back my azaleas? They get semi-shade, but the flowers die off very quickly, no matter how much water I give them. The smaller ones are also growing very slowly. What could the problem be? Gauteng

Azaleas like to grow in well drained acidic soil. Water well and keep them mulched especially in the hot summer months. Feed them with an acid loving fertilizer.

Should one pinch out petunia tips to encourage more prolific flowering? Western Cape


If I put agri lime on weeds in my lawn will it help get rid of them, clover weed I think, it is very thick I just cant get on top of it. I sprayed weed killer and killed my lawn too. Mpumalanga

If the soil is too acid adding Agricultural lime to the soil will ‘sweeten’ the soil and the clover will not grow as prolifically, but it will not kill it.

How and when to prune lollipop roses? Gauteng

The best pruning time is July/August. Cut back all stems and branches to 50cm, cut stems to a bud. Remove dead and diseased wood. Remove older wood and twigs.

I need advice on how I can save my lemon tree, it's leaves are being eaten, the tree was blooming for the first time now, and everything is being eaten. What can I use to stop this? Gauteng

Spray with a systemic insecticide like Protek Complete 350 SC

I am seriously struggling with Mildew on my roses, also have this persistent Oxalis and chickweed in my flower beds .Please advise what I can do? Gauteng

Spray with Chronos for the mildew on the roses. Spray with Protek Versus for the weeds on the lawn.

What is safe to use to get rid of garden ants on the lawn? Gauteng

Spray with Knox Ant

What to feed fruit trees and blue berries to fruit better? Western Cape

Use Atlantic's Flower and Fruit fertiliser or Bio Ocean

Please advise what a good fertiliser would be for allround use. I have a combination of hibiscus, olive trees and other shrubs in my garden. My "katjiepiering" is in the same area, but is not growing or flowering at all. Your help would be mush appreciated. Western Cape

Bio Ganic All Purpose is a good all round fertilizer also feed the Katjiepiering with it and give it some Epsom Salts.

How do you trim height 1.5m of kale tree if cutting mother stem in half will it regrow or die? KZN

If you cut it in half it would die. If you want to cut it you must do it when the plant is still young.

Can I dissolve 7:1:3 into a tank water (10kg fertiliser and 2500liter tank)and use the water to water my lawn? And also use is in my vegetable garden? Lee-Anne, Eastern Cape

As far we're aware, 7:1:3 is not water soluble, and it would be better to spread the granules on the lawn and water it in.

Firstly we in Western Cape have a serious drought. Can you send me the minimum requirements of how to look after our grass for the year. I live in Hermanus where the drought is not as serious as Cape Town - we are allowed to water for a restrictive time twice a week.

If you are able water the lawn every second week.

Hello which fertiliser can I use now for foliage? thank you. Gauteng

3:2:1 fertiliser or Bio Ganic All Purpose.

When and how to prune Fuchsia Fulgens? Gauteng

Prune in early spring, by cutting 2/3 of the plant.

Can you transplant large uncut Dekriet, Cape Thatching Reed. If possible how and when? Western Cape

The roots resent disturbance, but large clumps can be lifted carefully and if necessary divided. Replant immediately after lifting. This can be done in April/May

What compost and pest spray should I use for and on my Ice Bergs? Gauteng

Any well decomposed compost can be used. Feed with Vigarosa fertiliser and spray with Rosecare

How do I get rid of black patches on camellia leaves, which also tend to curl? And sooty patches on hellebores?

The black patches could be a fungus spray with a fungicide and the curling leaves could be an insect spray with an insecticide. If you have sooty patches on the Hellebores you could have aphids or scale, spray with an insecticide

What fertiliser can I give my potted streptocarpus plants? Western Cape

Use Nitrosol or Multifeed

Can I prune my geraniums now (late Feb)? Western Cape

Yes you can.