Frequently asked questions

Does Life is a Garden sell anything?

No, Life is a Garden is an information portal. Please see our Garden Centres page to find your nearest accredited garden centre.

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 deep do I plant my seeds?

2 ½ times the size of the seed, alternatively, read the back of the packet.

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.

Can I plant roses in winter?

Yes, the roots are dormant, they aren’t disturbed as when the sap is rising, and they settle in before spring.

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

The stones will give good drainage.

Why do some of the leaves turn yellow?

That is chlorosis, caused by a difficiency in the soil. Treat with phosphates, magnesium sulphate, iron.

How do I treat the Woolly White Fly on my lemon tree?

Mulch with kraal manure, and drench with a season long systemic insecticide, after removing all lemons.

What is wrong with the oak trees? The leaves are black and dripping sticky stuff everywhere.

The trees are infested with aphids secreting honeydew, which attracts sooty mould. Feed the tree generously with organic 2-3-2 and apply systemic season long insecticide.

How difficult Bellis Perennis is to grow from seed?

These seeds are not at all difficult to grow. They require full sun to semi-shade, best sowing time is Spring to Summer; germination is approximately 15days after sowing, flowering will be approximately 20 weeks. (Kindly note these are approximate time)

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.

When should we plant mielies?

Spring is a great time to plant mielies

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.

How do I apply Lawn Dressing? How much?

Lawn Dressing should be applied at the beginning of the growing season and (in South Africa) is typically applied during August & September. Kick start your dormant winter lawn by scarifying and spike rolling to improve aeration. Apply a topping of Earth2Earth weed free River Sand to level uneven areas. Follow up with an application of nitrogen rich fertilizer i.e. LAN, then cover with an even layer of Earth2Earth Lawn Dressing. Spread the Lawn Dressing evenly using the back of a steel rake, allowing the tops of your grass to show. 1 x 30dm bag covers 2 -2.5m2 Water thoroughly with a fine garden sprayer, after 2 weeks you can mow the lawn, stand back and admire a lush green carpet.

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.

How does Compost increase the microbial activity of soil?

Compost adds organic material to the soil thus increasing microbial and earthworm activity, which in turn improves the ‘air filled porosity (AFP)’ and ‘water holding capacity (WHC)’. This will result in better root growth and cation exchange improving nutrient uptake for the plant.

What is the best growing medium to add to my vegetable garden?

Kraal Manure is most suitable for use in vegetable gardens as it is both organic and nutritious, replacing much needed macro and micro nutrients for healthy crop production. Healthy plants are more resistant to pests and diseases which in turn reduces the need to use harsh chemicals for a delicious organic crop.

Do Aloe barberiae grow into huge big trees?

Aloe barberiae grow to approximately 12m tall and have an approximately spread of 4m.

Which herbs are suitable for Durban’s warm weather?

All the herbs that we grow in Gauteng can be grown in Durban with maybe the exception of the “Sage” (this would be due to the high humidity and lots of rain).

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.

I received a mandevilla creeper in late Autumn but decided to wait until September to put it into the ground. Unfortunately, it was a victim of frost recently. I have continued to water it even though all the leaves have dried up. Do you know if it is worth the effort? Will it grow back or should I put it in the compost heap?

The Mandevilla creeper is best suited to the frost free climate – however if protection is provided (covering of the plant) in the colder areas should be encouraged; however as the plants mature, they do become a lot hardier to the cold! I would suggest it is still not to late to provide protection for the Mandeville as July is very cold and August has those biting winds. Please do NOT be tempted to cut back the plant at this stage, rather wait until mid-September to do so. Then all the cuttings from the plant can be added to your compost heap.

When do I spray my lemon tree?

You only spray a lemon tree if it is necessary, do not spray preventatively! (Should you see any sign of insects or fungus then you can spray) – hence there is not a correct time to spray. For Fungus use “funginex” alternatively for insects “oleum” is very good and natural spray. Please, note these are purely suggestions of what you can use, you might need to be more specific about what you are wanting to spray against.

Can you add weeds to a compost heap?

I would suggest adding only a few weeds, (not in a great quantity) . Also be sure that you know what type of weed it is that you are adding to your compost heap.

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 noticed some fruit on my lemon tree. Last year the tiny fruit just disappeared. Could that have been some bug that attacked the lemons?

Generally speaking, if the fruit is not developing and falling off it could be a watering problem either too much or too little and in addition to which, feeding of fruit trees is of the utmost importance. Lemon fruit can drop due to a lack of water or lack of sufficient nutrients. It is unlikely that a bug would cause the fruit to disappear. Solution. Apply 3.1.5 fertilizer every 6 –8 weeks Water well in the dry times.

My garden is green no other colour in there; I have big trees and very dense shade; How do I go about to bring colour into this shady environment?

In a shady environment you could suggest (Annuals – new guinea impatiens, begonia’s, foxgloves, mimulus, or lobelia) and (Perennials – plectranthus, clivia’s, azaleas, viola’s or lamium ) I would introduce shade loving seedlings for your summer garden, examples would be: begnoia’s, impatiens or for something more permanent plants like plectranthus, fuchsia’s and azalea’s. However, do remember that feeding is most important in a shaded area, and if possible try and cut back some of the branches on the taller growing shrubs and trees.

We planted plumbago for our hedge. Been more than three years now. It is bushy, but not growing tall as fast as we wanted. It’s in a sunny spot, and I fertilize, water and trim. Why?

Regarding the Plumbago, it is known to attract the Doubled Collared Sunbirds, Crested Black Collard Barbets and the larvae of the Common short Blue Butterfly – (as these larvae feed on the plant). In more traditional medicine the root and leaves are used to relieve headaches and many years back was thought to get rid of warts? If you are feeding the Plumbago with something like 3.1.5. and have planted it in full sun with a regular water there is no reason why it should not be growing

How much fertilizer should be given to a potted plant?

Firstly never exceed the dosage stated on the package. A good tip is also to first always wet the plant and then apply the fertiliser. I would recommend a third weekly feed.

My pink Petunias have brown spots on the leaves and the petals look eaten. Any ideas?

The Petunia’s sound to me (please bear in mind without seeing them difficult to assess) like they may have a fungus, which is often brought about by watering in the heat of the day, a good idea would be to spray with any fungi side. (Also a good tip is to water in the early morning rather than in the heat, also try and not water in the later afternoon so that the plants do not go to bed with “wet feet”.

What will you suggest for clivias, what kind of ground, is compos alone needed?

Clivias like a neutral soil so I would suggest to use only compost however I would suggest a regular feeding of 3.1.5. A further point to remember, when you water rather water deeply less often that a light sprinkling. Clivia’s like shaded conditions and well composted soil to grow in. It would be great to plant them with a bit of superphosphate or bone meal and give them a granular feeding of 515 or 315 in August just prior to their flowering season.

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 have planted Gerbera Daisy seed in pots and in the soil but they don’t seem to be coming up? Is it just still too cold or what – as everything else has come up, so I am finding this really weird. Will they still come up?

Just make certain that you do not allow the seeds to dry out, and also I hope you have positioned them in a semi-shade position and not full sun – other than that I can think of no reason why they do not germinate. (I have tried to grow these seeds myself and very much to my surprise did not have a great success rate? No too sure)

I have a small garden, can I still have a compost heap?

If you have a small garden we would suggest using a compost bin that you can purchase from your local accredited garden centre. Veggie peels and other organic kitchen waste need to mature, decompose and breakdown properly before you use it as compost so we wouldn’t recommend throwing your veggie peels straight into the beds.

I have with Canna’s overtaking my garden. My garden is quite old and established. the more I take out the more they grow back with a vengeance. I cant get rid of the bulbs. Is there a product I can use or could you suggest an alternative in getting rid of them.

It sounds like it could be an invasive species of Canna, called Indian Shot. We would suggest digging deep into the garden to completely remove the rhizomes. It’s important to make sure they don’t set seed. If you’d prefer to go the poison route, you can pop into your nearest accredited garden centre and see what they recommend.

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
  • Erythrina
  • Wild Olive / Olea
  • Bauhinia tomentosa


Please tell me how to get rid of Amaryllis caterpillar on my clivias.

These pesky worms can multiply rapidly and do great harm not only to the leaves but also to the bulb and its embryo buds. It’s necessary to spray a suitable systemic insecticide to rid the bulbs of these pests. Usually 3 repeat applications are required when you have a serious infestation. We would suggest popping into your nearest accredited garden centre and see which pesticide they have available.

Please let me know what is the best veggies to plant in April in Gauteng South Africa

The best veggies to plant now are Rhubarb, Lettuce, Chives, Spring Onions and Onions, Oriental Veggies, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Spinach and Swiss Chard … just to mention a few!

I want to grow vegetables in a few containers as my garden is too small, but so far had very little success, even with carrots and beetroot. Onion seeds never seem to germinate. What am I doing wrong?

Carrots are best grown in the ground unless they are in a large deep container/pot. The position definitely sounds great as veggies need at least 5 hours of sun a day. As for the soil, if you are planting in pots, make sure you have a good mix of compost and potting soil (50/50). Ensure that the pots are of an adequate size and allow for good drainage. Feeding is of the utmost importance, you can pick some up from your local accredited garden centre.

I planted some peppadew seeds given to me by a friend. Two plants survived and now have a few fruit that looks exactly like minature green peppers – not at all like the red peppadews you buy in a bottle. Must I wait until it turns red and can you eat them raw?

There are many variations on the so called pepper dew – however they all need to turn red before picking. They can be eaten raw or pickled.

Hoe raak jy ontslae van aalwurm in die grond?

The best way to get rid of them is to make a dilution of round up, using rubber gloves and a sponge dip the sponge into the solution and run it on from the base of the leaves to the tips

I have Sage “Midnight” in a largish container, but it does not look happy to me. I do feed it but it makes no difference. I wonder if it would be better in the ground. It is in full sunshine.

Sage will grow quite happily in both a pots and in the ground. Good to hear it is in full sun – as this is what it enjoys. Sage is very sensitive to over water (I suspect this is what it can be) allow the plant to dry out completely before the next watering! (And in between watering’s)

Struggling to get Verbena b. (big tall one in the pic) going this year, made another sowing today and put it in a zip lock bag, hopefully this time…

Verbena seed like to germinate in dry conditions with limited light exposure. We water the trays after we have sown the seeds and 5 days later give them there next watering. Verbena seeds generally prefer a dryer condition when I plant them I would mist them every third day (with a spray bottle) as opposed to most other seeds, which I would mist daily!

Canterbury Bells, I have lost the seed pkt, how tall do they grow, I have some ready for transplanting.

Canterbury Bells grow to between 50cm and 60cm.

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.

Ek het ‘n klein tuin met kleigrond en wil graag ‘n vinnig groeiende boom plant. Sal die Huilboom of “African weeping wattle” by my groei?

Peltophorum africana of ‘African weeping wattle’ hou van goed dreinerende grond en is dus nie geskik vir kleigrond nie. ‘n Baie mooi boom wat algemeen in kleiner tuine gebruik word in Gauteng, is Heteropyxis natalensis (Laventelboom). Dit is belangrik dat die grondvoorbereiding deeglik gedoen word in ‘n tuin waar daar klei is. Grawe n gat van 1kubieke meter wat gevul word met ‘n mengsel 50% kompos, 25% gewaste riviersand en 25% gewone grond waarby ongveer 1koppie beenmeel gevoeg word. In ‘n goed-voorbereide gat sal bome wat nie tradisioneel in kleigrond groei nie, ‘n beter kans staan op oorlewing. Kyk ook miskien na Loxostylis alata (teerhout).

What is a good replacement for Tecoma Capensis because of its erratic growth?

Good replacements would be Abelia frances mason, Duranta sheena’s gold or Ligustrum ovifolium.

What plant would be best to make a bonsai tree?

These are just some shrubs are great for bonsai:

  • Acers (maples)
  • Bauhnia
  • Bougainvillea
  • Buddleja
  • Celtis
  • Cape May
  • Diospyros
  • Erythina
  • Ficus
  • Pines – Cedrus, Cypress, Juniprus

I have 20 cm round totally dead brown spots on my lawn. What do I do?

The brown patches on the lawn could be one of any things, generally it is a fungus. Sometimes only female dogs urine cause the lawn to discolour really do not think this could be a major cause. Maybe you should place a small wet towel on the lawn an night in the morning when you lift the towel you will see any ants or termites as they always gather together under anything that is damp (this is a very clever way to detect if you have an insect problem!!!) Dead spots on the lawn can mean a lot of things. My suggestion is to scarify that portion of the lawn and apply the fertilizer 4:1:1 with carbaspray. This will fertilizer the lawn and eradicate any worms that may be eating at the roots. Keep the lawn well aerated and watered through the heat of Jan and Feb. If there are pets (dogs or cats) keep an eye on their behaviour because their constant relieving themselves on the same spot could also lead to dead patches on the lawn.

Ons woon in die warm, warm Noordkaapse dorpie, Kakamas en ek sukkel met 15 viburnum odoratissimum plante wat bykans ‘n jaar oud is en ek probeer om ‘n heining van te maak. Die plante se blare krul op en kry lelike bruin kolle op. Ondanks die hitte, kry hul gereeld water, maar hul kry baie swaar. Ek het al gespuit met oleum soos my kwekery aanbeveel het, maar met geen sukses. Help asb.

I would suggest that you give the plants a good thick mulching, about ten cm thick. Use rotting compost, bark, lawn clippings. This is normal for them to stress out a bit especially in the extreme heat. Rather water them every 4 days with a good deep watering to encourage the roots to grow deeper. Frequent watering in little bits causes surface roots which in the long run are not ideal for the plant. I would not use the oleum.

This is a very hot part of the country and viburnums may not be the best suited plant to create a hedge from. Due to the excessive heat and the very brackish water that exists in your area this could cause the curling of the leaves and brown patches. Mulching could go a long way to helping your viburnums. An alternative would be to plant Nymania capensis (Chinese lanterns) which can tolerate extreme heat and cold and is very water wise. Consult your nearest nursery for plant availability.

I love agapanthus. I have 3 different shades in my garden. For some reason though they seem to be struggling. Some of the leaves have turned yellow and started rotting at the base. Do you perhaps know why?

This is common problem with agapanthus at this time of the year. They are attacked by a worm which eats its way to the core of the plant. I suggest that you spray with Garden Ripcord to get rid of the worms. If one does not spray often the worms will destroy the entire plant. The Agapanthus that have yellow leaves is generally excess water and we have an abundance of rain, the problem with too much water/rain is that it leaches out all the goodness in the soil; I would strongly suggest that you use a general fertiliser something like 3.1.5. Also do be on the lookout for any in sect activity.

Ek het een seldery plantjie gekoop en in ‘n plastiese pot geplant, maar dit groei nie soos ek verwag het nie. Die plant bly klein en kry witvlieg wat ek met ‘n oplossing van Sunlight Liquid gespuit het. Hoe groot moet die pot wees en kan ek dit weer verplant?

Yes, you must plant the celery out into a bigger pot or even better into the garden. The pot that you purchased the plant in will not be big enough as the plant grows. When planting the celery into the ground, prepare the soil with compost and bone meal.

The leaves of my Clivia plants are going white from the tip down. What could be the cause of this and what can you advise me?

Difficult to say without seeing the plants – however it sounds like a fungus, could you supply us with a picture of the said plant?

This is a difficult one. If the plants are in the sun (which is not ideal as they like shaded conditions) they can burn from the outside of the leaf to the middle of the leaf. If the plants are grown in the shade then the problem is more linked to water. With too little water the plants in unable to take up nutrients from the soil and distribute them to the leaves of the plant. The same happen if the roots of the plant are in a waterlogged soil which damages the roots and also prevents nutrient uptake.

I thought Vincas were classified as invasive in South Africa – please let me know (I destroy them when I see them in my garden!

No Vincas are not on the alien list – they are available at nurseries (they are divine and so easy to grow)

Are there small citrus trees available these days? I’d love to have one or two but I have a tiny townhouse courtyard. I’d love to have a naartjie or mini lemon tree. The ones I remember from my parents’ garden were huge.

You certainly can get small lemons and also naartjie trees and they grow most successfully in pots.

Generally all the fruit trees are large. There is the Calamondin Fruit tree which is ornamental and not edible. This tree stays short and is very good for pots.

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.

My lemon tree has seen better days, surrounded by paving it is not doing so well although I guess it is at least 25 years old!

I think 25 years is sufficient for a lemon tree – you might consider replacing it?

What does one do to avoid the stench of decaying vegetable matter especially when it’s wet and slimy?

Homemade compost really should not smell – could it be that something in the compost is not breaking down (decomposing). This can happen if it is too wet .

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.

Not long ago I bought a cat’s claw plant at a local nursery in Pretoria. Why are they still selling it seeing as it is a category I invader?

The Cats Claw is definitely on the alien invasive list category 1. This mean that the plant is prohibited according to Lesley Henderson book on Alien Invaders.

I have a pompom tree just about 1m tall now and recently I have noticed the leaves wilting rapidly?…It’s well mulched,well watered, and added a healthy dose of compost. any ideas what could cause this? A mole burrowing underneath perhaps?

I would not rule out the possibility that a mole might cause some damage, however you would be able to see signs of a mole, either mounds of soil or a hole? The wilting of the leaves also tells me it is VERY possibly too much or two little water? These trees do not like a great deal of water. But it could be, that there is a bacteria in the soil (a fungus) however I would rather say it is a water problem.

What do you spray roses with? Heard that dish washing liquid + water is a eco-friendly way to keep aphids at bay.

I do not think that ‘soapy water’ will help with the aphids, it might act as a deterrent. There are special sprays which have been formulated by the gurus. Pop into your local accredited Garden Centre to see what they have available.

I wasn’t successful with strawberries a few years ago… will have to try again. Any advice?

Firstly, strawberries are gross feeder and require regular feeding, also be careful not to allow the leaves to just lay on the ground, I always like to put a layer of either mulch or some type of support to raise them off the ground. Do ensure they get a position that gets a lot of sun. Remembering that strawberries last for three years and then it is advisable to take cuttings from the Parent plant to replant.

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!

Please help! I have onion weeds in my flower beds, trillions of them. I have dug them out with large clumps of sand around them so as not to spread the little bulbets, but they just keep coming up! How do I get rid of them?

To get rid of ‘onion weed’ – the best way to do so is to do hand eradication (to dig them out). You can also try painting each individual stem with “Round-up”. Also, always remember – to remove all the flower heads before they set seed!

Is 3:2:1 fertilizer harmful to dogs and if it is what other products can be used?

We do not think that 3.2.1. is harmful to animals however should the animal eat a large quantity it would most certainly affect them. We would suggest that you maybe use any organic fertiliser (as this does not contain any harmful chemicals).

I have a very small garden and would like to plant a tree that is low maintenance and does not grow larger than 2m. It also needs to be planted next to a wall so it cannot be destructive with its roots.

There are very few small trees that only grow to about 2m (most grow to about 4m)– maybe you should rather consider getting a tall standard shrub. Small growing trees would be: Calpurnia, Acers and Noltea.

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!

Hi, wondered if u could help me with perhaps a list of brightly coloured flowering, spreading plants that I can plant between my boundary wall and the road. I have a corner plot and I need ground cover to cover the sandy area there, from the wall to the pavement edge is bout 3 metres and bout 5 or 6 metros from side to side +\-. Cape Flats Cape Town. Your assistance will be much appreciated, Thank You

We would suggest you looked at planting star jasmine, Carissa, abelia, gazania varieties, freylinia or even agapanthus. All of these will add colour to this patch and cover the sandy area. It would be advisable to add compost and super phosphate fertilizer when you plant.

I’m laying rubber paving mats with 3x3cm holes in a very shady area in summer and sun in winter, it a seating/ braai area and the mats will be walked on.I want to plant a cover to grow between the gaps but not take over the soil below is disgusting. What do u suggest or should I keep to filling the gaps with small pebbles

Some fantastic step-on ground cover for between paving include mentha, mazus repens, mondo dwarf, dymondia, lyssimachia or sagina subulata. These will all grow in the conditions you have with menthe having a mint fragrance that would be spread throughout the area after being stepped on.

Please could you let me know what seeds I could be planting this time of the year (October/November)? I would like to have some flowers in my garden through out the year. Something that I would be able to pick and have in a vase in my house, as well as just the most amazing colours in the garden.

You can sow Anchusa (summer forget me not) . Celosia. Chrysanthemum. Cosmos. (yellow and orange) Gaillardia (the blanket flower) . Nigella (love to in the mist) Nicotiana. Scabiosa. Zinnia (tall and dwarf). Marigolds. Also mixed packets of a variety of seeds make a delightful show and some of which make good cut flowers.

Our granadilla tree is full of flowers, falling off after being open, but there does not seem to be any fruit left to grow in the cavity that the flower leaves. What can I do?

This can be one of two things – or infact both. Lack of a deep watering and also lack of phosphates. Start up a regular watering, but it must be a very deep water and feed 3.1.5. or feed with Multisol.

I am wanting to plant out the poinsettia I bought for indoors over the Christmas season. It is a healthy strong plant! Can I plant it is a sunny spot in my garden?

Transfer the poinsettia to a shady spot in the garden with sufficient light. It can then be transferred again to a semi – shade once it has been established.

My Avocado (from a pip) is about chest high but some leaves show some burn marks. It is near our compost heap – also it seems to have some water run off around it so may be a bit wet. Can I move it? And what advice do you have? Does it have a very long tap root?

The brown leaves on the plant can be various things. It would be best to visit your nearest garden centre with samples of the leaves. Avocados have a shallow aggressive root system. If you would like to move it, move it on a cooler day or preferably during winter.

I would like to know which herbs and vegetables can I grow for autumn and winter in the Western Cape, and when I can start planting.

Most herbs are available right through the year and can be planted at any stage. Veggies (to name a few): Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Cabbages, Carrots, Cauliflower, Leeks, all lettuce, Onions, Peas and Spinach

I need some ideas on what plants and trees to plant at my swimming pool to give it a more tropical look?

It will be best to go for plants such as miniature date palms, tree ferns, asparagus ferns (sprengerii/meyersii ), cycas palms and bamboo palms for shade areas.

I am moving to the south coast of the Western Cape and would like to plant a deciduous shrub to give shade over the Braai area. Flowering shrubs are welcome, but no fruit baring shrubs. The area is full-sun, near the sea and windy.

The best option is the bauhinia galpinii. Has a lovely orange flowers and is indigenous as well.

How do I know when cucumbers are ready to pick? Also looking for the name for the English cucumber seeds?

The botanical name for them is Cucumis sativus , variety English . On the back of the seed packet ail be instructions and guidelines as to how many days from germination before they are ready. They should be dark green colour, firm to touch when squeezed gently.

I have a red/orange lichen or maybe a moss growing on the branches of the lemon tree ,is this harmful to the tree .Should i get rid of it if so what with?

Not all lichen is harmful, quite a lot is infact very good. However it can be washed off with a stiff brush and soapy water then spray wit Funginex.

I planted Brussel sprout 4 month ago they are huge plants but Brussels are small and leafy was is to hot and should they be a winter crop?

I think you might have planted far too early, this is the time to sow – until about when it is mild in April – this weather to my mind is too hot!

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.

What proteas are in bloom in April? (in terms of flowers for a wedding)

While it is still a little early for some Proteas there will be flowers available. Protea Susara will be the variety most readily available.

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.

I am looking for some indigenous plants that I can use indoors…. they will not get any natural lighting as the room is completely land locked….. it will only receive fluorescent lighting for about 9hrs a day. Indigenous is best, but if there aren’t any then exotics could work as well.

Indigenous: Zamioculcus zamiifolia – foliage plant very well suited for low light areas Chlorophyttum comosum ( hen and chicken) Streptocarpus – flowering plant and might battle in the low light.

Non – Indigenous: Sanseveria (mother in laws tongue) Aspidistra elatior (cast iron plant) very tough and suited for low light Aglaonema Silver – variegated foliage suited for low light.

Im living out in the Muizenberg area. I find the ground to be very dry and my lawn looks as if the sun is burning it . Please advise to how I can make the lawn grow green and what type of plants can I plant in my area?

It will be best to cut out a piece of the lawn and take it to your nearest garden centre, as there can be many problems. It can be worms, fungal infections or watering problems. There are a big range of plants that are available for coastal areas. Herewith a few: Barleria, yuccas, cordylines, Aloes, Elegias, Agathosma, Coleonema.

We have 3 conifer trees with a Gardenia planted between then. (Conifer, Gardenia, Conifer, Gardenia, Conifer!!) in a front south facing bed at our front door. The Gardenias are about chest height and are being smothered by the Conifers. We would like to move them to a semi shady spot. When and how can we do this?

It would be best to wait until it gets a little colder. Please ensure that the area where the plants are being moved to, is prepared before the plants are taken out of the ground. Please ensure that you take as much of the root ball with it upon transplanting.

Can you plant natal lavender tree in Cape Town?

Yes you can definitely, it is a beautiful indigenous tree.

I live in Kakamas, Northern Cape (near Upington so very hot and dry) and am looking for a potted creeper to cover a wire arch in front of my home. I saw the Jasminum polyanthum and fell in love with it but fear that it wouldn’t survive our climate. Any suggestions? Unfortunately it has to be potted.

You can definitely plant the jasmine. It is a fast growing climber and with regular feeding and proper watering it will flourish. Just ensure that the drainage in the pot is properly.

We live on a farm. Summers very hot but winter months there is always frost. What plants/flowers can I plant that will survive all year round? Or that will grow again in summer? Like Cannas? Also what flowers (also that can survive frost) can I plant between my roses?

Plants like Erigeron, Dietes, Chives, Ceratium (snow in summer), Lavender, Brachycome (swan river daisy) and Felicia.

I seem to have a plague going through my gardern. It started with one Papaya tree where the leaves started curling. Curly leaves all over, even flowers. All my strawberries, potatoes, and several sessions of tomatoes died! I cleaned out everything, burnt everything, planted new tomatoes. When they were 1,5 meters tall, they suddenly got brown spots and died. Same with potatoes. My strawberries leaves turn purplyish, brown leaves, dark to black fruit & die! I sterilised many things including growing medium with chlorine, checked Ph, but it keeps coming. It is now winter and our main veggie time. (cooler weather) Hoedspruit. I am 99% sure it is late blight or rust. I sprayed with many things, but once it starts nothing stops it. I have photos, Can I buy seeds of resisant varieties? In between all this destruction, my lettuce grow like crazy, no problem! I plant green peppers, lettuce, tomatoes,. beetroot, strawberries and brinjals for ourselves.

It could be that your soil is ‘clay’. Clay is a very heavy soil and does not drain sufficiently and can bring about a lot of various problems; in addition it could be a water problem (maybe too much water). If your soil does not drain properly it is always a good idea to dig in some river sand which will certainly help! If it is a fungus I would then suggest you bought a product call ‘BRAVO’ which is excellent for all types fungus. A further point is to always check the date on the packs of seed that you purchase to ensure they are not past their sell by.

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.

Should a compost heap be in sun or shade?

A compost heap should be in the sun. Try and get the heap in as much sun as possible.

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.

Would it be possible to advise on how to get rid of wild garlic that is growing every where, in between cracks, in between plants and it is becoming just a menace.

Wild garlic (Onion Weed) is a menace and difficult to get rid of. If you can get to the plants, the best way to get rid of them is to dig them out by digging down and underneath the bulb and removing it – soil and all. If any bulblets get left behind, they will resprout. You will have to do this as soon as you see plants. If they flower, do pick the flower off to prevent seed forming. In the cracks you can use the weedkiller Roundup. Use as recommended and paint on the leaves. You might have to do this a few times before they die. Roundup will kill any plant so please be careful when using it.

Please would you advise me – I need to plant an evergreen shrub to screen off the next door property if possible, a quick grower and indigenous a possibility. I look down onto the compost heap and staff quarters of the adjacent property as we are on a fairly steep hill. We do have a view so would not like to block it out – eg wild strelitzia Nikolai too tall.

You could try the Freylinia varieties, Buddleja saligna, Dodonaea angustifolia.

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.

I will be moving home in September and would like to take some of my favourite plants with me. Have you any tips?

It is a good time to transplant/move plants in the cooler months. If you would like to take shrubs with you, prune them shorter and remove with some soil around the root ball. Any perennials like Agapanthus move easily – remove and cut back the leaves and then replant.

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.

I have bought a lot of perennial seeds (agapanthus, diascia, gaura, osteospermum, blue sage, white fairy primrose, gazania & delphinium) and was wondering if it is still too early to start planting the seeds?

If you are going to plant your seed in trays, you can plant them now and keep them in a warm place. If you are going to plant directly in the soil, wait until it is warmer.

I started a subtrobical garden in my small garden then I developed a back problem. Now I want more flowering shrubs and annuals. Can you please give me some tips?

Annuals, although colourful, are a lot of back breaking work as they have to be replaced every 6 months. If you do want annuals, plant them in containers. Flowering shrubs and perennials are less maintenance and once planted, they should last for years. The back breaking bit is the initial planting. They might need a light trimming once a year. Visit your local nursery or garden centre and they will help you with plants that should last.

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 looking to get some Peony shrubs but I don’t know if they even grow in SA. Do they grow here and where would I get them? Are they known by a different name here?

Yes Peonies do grow here. If they are not available at your local nursery, you can try Hadeco Bulbs at, or Plant Farm in Pretoria at

I would really like to grow some of this white sage for personal use. Is it possible in Johannesburg and where could I obtain the seeds/plants?

It should grow in Johannesburg. Try Bridget Kitley Herbs in Stellenbosch. Her e-mail address is

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.

Can you please let me know when will be the right time of the year to plant dahlia bulbs?

Dahlias can be planted from the beginning of September through to November.

Please take me through the process of planting grass,sugar beans, potatoes,pumpkin, fruit and vegetables.Tell me what kind of the fertilisers I need to use and the chemicals used to destroy the insects and the unwanted plants or weeds.

To plant grass (lawn) you need to clear the area of any weeds, dig over the soil, break up the sods and rake it flat. When planting, add Bonemeal or Super Phosphate to soil and dig in lightly. For vegetables dig over the soil and add well decomposed compost and a fertiliser, like Wonder Planting and Vegetables:2:3:4. Water well once seedlings/seed are planted. If seedlings are eaten use Cutworm Bait.  When planting fruit trees add compost to the soil when you have made your planting hole, also add Bonemeal/Super Phosphate. Once the trees are growing fertilise with a 3:1:5 fertiliser. Using a herbicide would depend on what kind of plants or weeds you want to destroy. Go to your local nursery or garden centre and ask them.

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.

Do you have a checklist of tools that I will need to invest in to successfully have a kitchen garden in Gauteng?

Invest in a spade, a garden fork, a rake, a hand trowel and fork, a watering can with a rose.

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.

How can I get rid of little green caterpillars that are eating and/or causing the new shoots & flowers on my geraniums to rot. Must be safe for my 1-year-old grandson.

Use Margaret Roberts Biological Caterpillar 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.

Where do cherries grow in KZN?

Cherries grow best where the winters are really cold. They do not do well in milder winters.

How well do azaleas do in Gauteng?

Azaleas do well in Gauteng. Plant them in the shade or morning sun and afternoon shade.

I have dwarf snapdragons in a fairly large pot in full sun. Recently I have noticed yellow spots on the upper leaves and little brown spots in circles on the under side. I suspect it is rust. I sprayed Rosecare but don’t think it has helped.

It seems do you have rust on your snaps. Rosecare does have a fungicide in it but you would have to repeat spraying weekly. You can try Bravo or Funginex. Both are fungicides. If the rust is very bad it might be better to remove the snaps from the pot.

The cycad in our garden “flowered” and has three enormous cones. These seeds are now starting to fall as they ripen, and we would like to try and grow them from these seeds. How do we go about this? How do we check if these seeds have been pollinated? Do we need to dry out the seeds before planting? How long before they will germinate (read somewhere up to a year)?

Please remember that you need a permit for growing South African Cycads. To see if the seed is pollinated, cut the seed in half and see if an embryo is starting to grow. It will be in the middle of the seed. It can take from 6-18 months for the full embryo to develop. When planting, soak the seed in water for 2 days. You will need a light, well drained soil. Plant half the seed in the soil and keep the soil moist. Place the seed in a warm spot.

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 have a lot of spiders and snails in my garden. How can I get rid of them? I have used snail pellets but to no avail.The spiders are affecting my tomatoes. How do I get rid of ants around the house too? I have used blue powder – they disappear and come back again full force.

Snails can be a problem and you would have to continue using the pellets. You also get a liquid snail pesticide that you can spray with, called Snailflo. You can get an aerosol that you can use to kill spiders. Try Fendona to get rid of the ants around the house.

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.

I have yellow hibiscus in a large pot. When I cut off a thick stem I noticed a brown spot and when I slit the stem I found a white worm in the stem. I have a similar problem with a rose (also in a pot), but when I was pruning this rose I noticed the stem was hollow and when I slit the stem lengthwise I found powdery stuff inside the stem. Is this borer? Another problem is the fruit on the mango tree. We have a variety of huge mango but they are not edible and there are stings on the fruit and then the fruit is full of worms. I think this might be fruit fly. I needed to find out what I should spray on these plants, when I should spray and how often should I spray?

It is difficult to get rid of a worm in the stems, other than cutting the stem off below the spot/hole where the worm has entered. For the rose, prune back the stem until it shows no hole and seal the stem with a sealer. Start spraying the mangoes as soon as the fruit has formed with Garden Ripcord and continue spraying as per instructions with the insecticide.

We have both a Lemon and Lime tree and they are about 35 plus years old. I have no idea how to take care of them and they look a bit neglected, the fruit are small and the trees had curled up leaves and what looked like bubbles on them. I gave both trees Koinor and it looks like it is working but there is still some curling and bubbles. The trunk of the trees looks like there is more then one tree growing and not a lot of leaves at the top (the trees look old) What must I do, do I gut these extra stumps of and try and get the trees to look healthy again or do I remove them and start over with new trees. I also notice some white fluffy stuff on the leaves.

If the trees look really bad and are full of disease it might be wise to remove them. If you want to keep them prune all dead wood out and prune the tops shorter, this should encourage new growth. Remove all other trunks and retain the main trunk. Once you have new growth and still have leaf curl, spray with Koinor again. The fluffy stuff could be Australian bug spray with Oleum.

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

I really like plants and flowers and want to start our garden, but I don’t know where to start and what to plant? I like colourful flowers and green plants. The beddings is already there, I just need to prepare the soil and start planting?

Add well decomposed compost to the soil and dig into the beds. When planting add a little Bone meal to each hole which will help the roots grow strong. Go to your local Nursery or Garden Centre and they will be able to help you with a selection of Annuals for summer e.g. Petunias or Marigolds or buy perennials like Daisies and Gazanias. Look out for Agapanthus or Day Lilies.

We have recently move from KZN to Mossel Bay in the Western Cape. I have done nothing in our garden as yet because I dont know much about fynbos. We face a green belt. However, my question regards our neighbour’s tree. I think it is called a Brazilian/Australian pepper tree? Is it an invader and in what category?

The Pepper tree Schinus terebinthifolius is a declared invader in category 3 and although new trees may not be planted, existing ones may remain.

I have privet hedges along the driveway between us and the neighbours that are almost bare at the bottom but fairly full on the top. Is it possible to grow Mandevilla vines in between the bare branches at the bottom and will they automatically attach themselves and creep through the privets? If this climber is not suitable, could you possible suggest another one? Would really appreciate your assistance with this as i cannot afford to put a wall up between us and the neighbours.

Mandevilla laxa (Chilean Jasmine) loses the bottom leaves and becomes woody. Try Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina Jasmine) which is evergreen, fast growing and should twine up the privet hedge.

We are staying next to a river and it is getting cold in the winter and very hot in summer. I’ve planted L M lawn under the trees but it dies every time. Want to plant lawn seed. Bought canada lawn seed. The packet says for cold and shaded areas. will it work?

Yes the Canada lawn should work.

I live in Pretoria and am starting a new vegetable garden. My soil has different textures. Some part has sand and some parts has stones. I have used the organic compost to cure the soil. I would like to know how much time do I have to leave the soil mixed with compost before I start planting?

If the compost was well decomposed you can start planting immediately.

What is the cause of “Lychen” growing on branches? How can it be removed as it definitely does eventually kill the branch. I scrub it off but obviously cannot reach top branches.

They say that Lychen growing on branches is a sign of clean air. It is difficult to remove and besides rubbing it off as you do you could spray with Dithane, unfortunately you still won’t be able to reach the top branches.

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.

Can someone please give me advice on how to germinate peony papaver: “poppy” seeds?

Plant the poppy seeds in autumn in fine composted soil. Water well, wait until the surface has dried, then water again. Do not let the seed dry out. They should start germinating after 7 days.

What can I plant in a shady area that can form a nice tall privacy screen. I stay in Richards Bay. I was thinking about Gardenias but not sure if they will do well in shade.

You can plant Gardenias in the shade. Try Viburnum odoratissimum as the grow in the shade and they grow tall.

I am an amateur landscaper, I love the garden and have been gardening since a kid. I’ve just moved to lichtenburg from jhb. It’s so so dry here! Anyway, I’ve got some landscaping jobs, what plants are water wise but grow lots of colourful flowers, and can be hedged, not so tall about max 40-50 cm?

Try Westringia fruticosa, Euryops pectinatus, Coleonema, Lavandula, Rosmarinus.

I am wanting to grow dwarf fruit trees. What are their names, where can I find them and what should I be looking for?

You can keep fruit trees small and compact by pruning them. Planting the fruit trees in containers will also inhibit the growth. Fruit trees you can try are citrus like Lemon, Orange and Naartjie. You can also try Santa Rosa Plum and Fantasia Nectarine.

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 would love to plant some tomatoes, lettuce and spring onions, but we have such a plague of monkeys. I have some stunning Lavender bushes, Bleeding Heart & Jasmine Creepers. Would I be able to plant any of that underneath and between these plants to hide it from the monkey’s?

The lettuce and spring onions will grow in the shade. The tomatoes need the sun

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.

I am going to plant my orchid on a tree, will this method work in Johannesburg?

Yes this will work. Make sure that the tree you are going to plant the orchid on is not exposed to frost or the spot used is very cold in the winter.

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.

We have a narrow wide garden along the house- 16m wide and 5deep.The house is North East East facing a long wall which is obviously the opposite. The wall is precast panels, about 7 panels high. What I want to know is: What could I grow against the house? What could I grow up the wall to the side that is South East facing? What could I grow up the long wall facing the house which obviously has morning shade afternoon sun? Could we grow espalier pears, granadilla? We live in heidelberg in Gauteng.

Yes you could grow espalier pears and apples and granadilla up the wall facing the house. If you would like to try climbers you can use Gelsemium sempervirens or Trachelospermum jasminoides.

We live in Muizenberg so the salty, sea air is a big factor in choosing plants that can survive and prosper. What are some varieties we can look at?

These are some plants you could try. Coleonema, Euryops pectinatus, Rhaphiolepis ‘Kruschenia’, Westringia fruticosa, Carissa, Rosmarinus, Phormium tenax varieties, Portulucaria afra, Tarchonanthus, Tulbaghia violacea, Escallonia ‘Pink Princess’.

What seed can be plant to give colour to our office garden, in Eastern Cape. space is 20mx50m.

You can sow Marigolds, Portulaca, Alyssum, Petunia, Salvia, Zinnia, Lobelia.

I’m looking for n ever green climber to cover my palisades. It is in the sun most of the day and can be cold in the winter. I’m living in Lydenburg. Will a Lady Banks Rose (Rosa banksiae) do the trick or a jasmine?

Rosa Banksiae will definitely work.

I have a huge snail problem.. I don’t like using pesticides. Any natural or hacks I could try?
Also, I have fennel growing everywhere and in huge bushes, do I just cut some branches off? Some tips are turning yellow?

Sprinkle crushed egg shells around the plants, use sandpaper – snails don’t like the rough surface. Trap them with beer in a shallow container, they will crawl in and drown. If you are able to get seaweed put that around the plants. An organic spray with garlic in it will also deter them. You can cut the fennel short and it will send out new shoots again. The yellowing of the tips could be overwatering or bad drainage.

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.

Do sunflowers bloom in February / March? And if not, when is their season? Thank you!

Yes sunflowers do flower in February/March.

My 1yr old potted roses sprang into life in September after their pruning in late July. They are floribundas. The central bloom turns brown and dies before opening, and then the other buds follow suit. They don’t seem waterlogged. What should I do?

The buds have a fungal disease. Cut off the buds and spray with a fungicide like Bravo. This can happen if the weather is damp and rainy. You may need to spray regularly for a while to get rid of the fungus. Do check that the soil does drain well in the container.

Which flowers can I plant that will attract bees to my garden?

Some of the plants that will attract bees include: Lampranthus(Vygie), Rosemary, Callistemon, Escallonia, Hebe, Viburnum, Abelia, Aloes, Dianthus, Gaillardia, Duranta, Phlox.

I want to plant veggies (cabbage, carrots, onion, beetroot, spinach, tomato, peppers (green,red and yellow), as well as beans). I already have the place where I can plant but I don’t know where or when to start and I don’t even know what to put on the soil to enrich it. Please help.

You can plant all the veggies now. Dig well decomposed compost into the soil. When planting, add bonemeal and a general fertiliser like 2:3:2.

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.

About 3 months ago we installed a wattle garden screen along our one boundary wall and I have recently notices tiny holes and very fine powder on some of the posts. I think it may be some sort of borer beetle. Does this pose a danger to the screening and more importantly does it pose a danger to my trees and shrubs? I would like to treat the wood with something to kill the infestation but I do not want to risk dangerous chemicals leaching into my soil and damaging my garden. Please help!

It sounds as if it could be a borer beetle. If the wattle wood was not treated before the screen was put up it could be a problem. Do visit a hardware store and ask them what you can use. Yes, do be careful not getting any chemicals on the ground.

How to make a Brunfelsia flower more? I have been feeding it Multisol K irregularly, maybe that’s why – not often enough?

Brunfelsia has a main flowering period in spring and then flowers sporadically thereafter. Brunfelsia like to grow in light shade in rich moist soil that is acidic. Water well in summer and less in winter. Mulch with an acidic mulch. Feed regularly.

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 live in Pretoria. My naartjie tree which is now two years old had lots of blossoms and last week they all fell off but there is no fruit. Do you perhaps know why?

Your naartjie tree needs to be watered well and regularly especially when it has blossoms on. Feed your tree with a 3:1:5 fertiliser. Young trees often blossom without setting fruit. Fruit setting should improve once they are older.

Love flowers for my grandchildren as well. Always just plant petunias in summer and pansies. Lots of pots around pool and patio areas. Plse can you advise what other flowering plants to grow?

You can plant Salvias, Marigolds, Portulaca, Verbena, Lobelia and perennials Pelargoniums, Inca Lilies, Penstemon, Agapanthus, Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’

I would like some advice on growing bamboo indoors as a room divider.

It is difficult to grow bamboo indoors. They need good light, high humidity, well drained moist soil, regular water, not over or under watered.

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.

My 3 meter hedge doesn’t have any leaves on the inside AND the plant is full of white soft fluffy aphids. I’ve cut it way back on the one side to see if will grow out again. What is the best insecticide that I can spray it with at this stage and will it grow back again?

The Viburnum hedge doesn’t have leaves on the inside as it is getting too little light. Spray the aphids with Oleum, add a sticker(dishwashing liquid) to get it to stick to the insects. It should grow out again, it might take a while. Try and water the hedge if possible.

I would like to have a magical garden with tranquility and where people can relax. I want the garden to have edible plants, scented plants, purifying plants, can you give me a list of plants to buy, please!

Some scented plants you can try are Brunfelsia eximia, Gardenia, Abelia, Lavandula, Trachelospermum, edible plants like the herbs, Basil varieties, Lemon Scented Verbena, Mint varieties. Try Blueberries and Gooseberries. Visit your local nurseries as they will have more plants they can help you with.

We live on a farm and I am starting to take care of the garden. The grass is green and coming along but I have so many weeds throughout the lawn that I don’t see the light. Is there an easier way than taking out one at a time?? Please help.

Depending on what type of lawn you have, you can spray with a weedkiller like Turfweeder, Hormoban or Banweed.

I want to know when to plant these so that they all bloom together: hollyhocks, foxgloves, delphiniums, lupins and Canterbury bells.

If they are all sown in late summer or early autumn you should be able to have them bloom late spring or early summer.

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 plants can you recommend I plant in my garden, which would be a great source of pollen and nectar for bees? Any suggestions that I could go and get at my local nursery?

You can plant Aloes, Callistemon, Hebe, Pyracantha, Tecoma, Escallonia, Viburnums, Murraya, Leptospermum, Perennial Basil, Rosemary and Thyme.

My Gardenia bush is beautiful on 1 side, but drying out on the opposite side. Also she’s full of “white something”. How do I fix this?

Gardenia like to grow in well drained, moist soil. They need to be watered well, but not overwatered. Do not let the soil dry out. Check that the bush is getting water all round it. It could be hot and dry on the one side, causing it to die. Prune the dead branches out. If the “white something” is like a powder then it is a fungus – spray with a fungicide. If it is an insect (when touched it should be alive) then spray with an insecticide.

I want to lure birds to my garden. Which type of trees can I plant?

Some indigenous trees that you can plant are Halleria lucida, Olea Africana, Celtis Africana, Syzygium cordatum, Harpephyllum caffrum.

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 trouble growing back my lawn and I think it is now time to revert to natural indigenous plants instead of temperamental grass that take too much time and resources to upkeep. The problem is, I still want to have all the perks of a lawn – it being low growing, taking traffic and pet friendly. Can you give me any ideas of what to replace my lawn with? It should ideally also take full sun and not a lot of water and feeding (sounds like I’m expecting way too much here). I asked around and somebody suggested natural grasses, but those tend to seed themselves quite vigorously and they do grow tall? Also looking for the best Water Wise ground cover in Pretoria?

Try growing the indigenous Buffalo Grass. It grows in the sun and is water wise. It does not need a lot of upkeep. For the best Water Wise ground cover, try Gazania rigens.

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.

The top of my cypress tree is drying,and both of them have little branches dry. Trees not looking healthy.

Your cypress tree could have been attacked by Italian cypress aphid. Cut the dry branches off and spray with Aphicide or work Insecticide Granules into the soil. You might have to repeat spray.

I have small apple trees growing in my garden from seeds that I threw away. Can they survive the Gauteng weather (Pretoria) and bear any fruits?

Yes they can survive the Pretoria weather. They probably won’t bear any fruit and if they do it might take a number of years.

My lawn has been invaded by a type of weed that I can call an ONION WEED, which spread rapidly after rain. I suspect it was carried by the trimmers that were used by grasscutters I hired for my lawn. Which weed killer can you recommend? Removing it proves futile – the stem is soft and that bulb remains underneath and grows again.

The Onion Weed is horrible. You can try and dig up each plant, removing the whole bulb. (Back breaking work). You can use the weed killer Roundup by painting the leaves with it, but be warned – it kills any plant/lawn that gets any on it. You may have to repeat painting.

I am a pensioner in Centurion looking after communal gardens in a complex… Need something easy to sow once, in patches around established garden and have a burst of colour from sept to march (???) or longer. Sun and shade and not too thirsty.

Plant Marigolds in the sun. Plant red Salvia that will grow in the sun and some shade. Both these plants are water wise.

Can I plant a lemon tree and Fever trees on the West Coast? Will they do good?

Plant the Lemon and Fever trees out of the wind in well drained, compost enriched soil. They need to be watered well and regularly. Fertilise with an organic fertiliser like Atlantic All Purpose which is an organic fertiliser.

I am renting and was given strict instruction to maintain the 30 odd rose bushes. This black spot began at the beginning of summer – now leaves are going yellow as well. I have been removing these off leaves (back breaking) and have sprayed with vinegar/water mix, to no avail and it is spreading to the other bushes. What is the cause and how do I repair? Also spreading to other plants?

Black spot is a fungus that is caused by damp weather and if not controlled can spread. It is good that you are removing the leaves. Spray with a fungicide like Funginex or Rosecare. You will have to spray at weekly intervals until you have it under control.

Please advise a list of herbs that would flourish in a shaded area.

These herbs should grow in a shaded area: try Basil, Catnip, Lemon Balm, mint and parsley. Ensure that the soil is well drained and do not overwater.

My lemon tree was pruned by a so called landscaper and ever since, it has never beared fruit. Prior to that, the lemons were always blooming and healthy. It is an old tree; what can I do?

If it is an old tree and was pruned back hard, it could take some time to start flowering again. Feed the tree with a 3:1:5 fertiliser at least 4 times a year. Water well and regularly.

I have a new water feature, but now am in dire need of tips on suitable water plants and other helpful tips. It’s 3,6m long, 60cm wide and 70cm deep. It’s on the south western side of the house against a quite high perimeter wall. Please help!

You can use the Cyperus family and water lilies. As it is quite deep you will have put the plants in pots and raise the pots until it is a few centimetres from the top of the water. The plants will not grow in such deep water.

Which type of trees with non invasive roots can I plant on my boundary wall, with roots that will not interfere with the drainage system or the wall. I would like to use it for screening and privacy.

Try the evergreen Viburnum odoratissimum which is a large shrub/small tree.

I woke the other morning to tiny mounds of earth on my lawn what causes this?

It could be Mole Crickets or earthworms.

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.

My roses, especially the miniature ones, are infested with aphids. I have tried spraying with rosecare and have used aphicide but no luck. One of the rosegrowers said I should not use these as the aphids mutate. Is this true? The leaves are small;  I have used rapid raiser to fertilise but this has not worked. My fuchsia which I had grown from a cutting, died when I potted it in a hanging basket and hung it under shade. Please advise.

It is said that the insects get used to the insecticide and it is not effective then. Try using Koinor for the aphids. Roses need to be fertilised at least once a month with a fertiliser good for roses. Try Ludwigs Vigorosa fertiliser. The fuchsia cutting should have good roots when potting it in well drained, compost enriched soil. Water well. Do not let the soil dry out. Planting the cutting in a hanging basket and keeping it in the shade is correct.

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.

We just bought a house in Orange Grove , Jhb. Small garden back and front. Would like to plant some trees. Which trees will you recommend?

You could plant these small trees: Olea Africana, Ceratonia siliqua, Betula pendula, Rhus(Searsia) lancea, Heteropyxis natalensis.

In our complex the cycads are getting white, like a fungus – what must we do? The cycads are, what I say, on the wrong place where is far too much wind. Could that be the cause of the fungus? I am curious for your answer and look forward to it!

If the cycads you have are Cycas revoluta, they prefer to grow in the shade or semi-shade in well drained, compost enriched soil. Water regularly but do not over water. Wind should not affect the plant. If it is a fungus on the cycad, spray with Funginex or Bravo.

I have a selection of the following weeds in my garden: Alternanthera pungens · Khaki weed, Kakiedubbeltjie · Goosegrass (silver crabgrass, silver foot, crows foot grass) · Bermudagrass · Nimblewill · Common Purslane (A) — Portulaca oleracea · Mouseear Chickweed (P) — Cerastium vulgatum · Perennial Sowthistle (P) — Sonchus arvensis · Redroot Pigweed (A) — Amaranthus retroflexus · Bull Thistle (B) — Cirsium vulgare Which type of herbicide will work best for eradication? Is it safe to use herbicides on my lawn/plants when I have dogs? Is there any proven natural herbicide that I should rather use if I have dogs?

You could use Banweed MCPA for the weeds. I am sorry I cannot say whether it is safe for animals. I don’t know of any natural herbicide.Perhaps you would like to contact Efekto Care for some advice, as follows:

Please advise what is the best month to plant Marigold seeds

Marigold seeds can be sown as soon as the soil starts warming. It is best to sow in spring and early summer.

I recently bought some proteas down in the Cape and had a small oopsie on the way back to KZN. What happened was the tops of the plants got FRIED from the heat under the torno cover of the bakkie. Can we just chop off all the brown steam and leaves or should we just keep on watering them and let them sort themselves out?

Do cut off the dead tops and continue watering the plants. They should start sending new growth again.

We live in Randfontein. Which fruit or nut trees would work in the area?

You could plant peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, figs, grapes, pomegranate, quince, almonds, pecan nut and walnut.

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.

What will grow underneath a pepper tree? I have four tiny duranta shrubs where can i plant them?

Try planting ground cover like Hedera (Ivy), Vinca, Wedelia, or Tradescantia. Duranta like to grow in the sun in well drained soil. Water regularly.

My friend has purchased a property in Pearly Beach and wants to establish a garden to include as many self-sustainable plants ie: vegetable garden etc. Help with the choice of fruit trees would be very much appreciated. Obviously the olive family will do, but what other trees can he consider?

Your friend will need to protect the fruit trees from the salt and the wind and plant them in compost enriched soil. They need to watered regularly and well. He could try the olives, citrus, like lemon, orange and naartjie, some grape varieties, early bearing peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums.

Will u please advise me of quick growing trees to plant in my home garden for future shade as my place is new and without any trees. My area is 40m x 30m with 62% of area covered by buildings including carport and paving there too.

You could try Olea Africa, Betula pendula, Rhus(Searsia) lancea OR Heteropyxis natalensis.

What is the appropriate contact insecticide for lily borer on clivias and what are the risks for bees?

You can use Garden Ripcord, I use Karbaspray – that works for me. A natural insecticide is Eco Natural insecticide.

I just love pansies. So sad because I planted some from seed and they never grew. Not sure what happened.

Sow the Pansy seed in autumn when the worst heat is over,  put the seed tray in a warm spot and keep the soil damp until the seedlings appear. Check that the seed is fresh when sowing.

Waited two seasons for my white#agapanthusafricanus to flower. It’s finally made its appearance, despite being infested with caterpillars. Any homemade, chemical free remedies I can try? I often have frogs living in the leaves, and don’t want to harm them.

You can use Eco Natural Insecticide.

What are the best flowering plants to buy as seedlings, for a person living in Cape Town that are easy to grow & do not require much watering?

All seedlings will need water to grow. Here are some of the more hardy ones. Marigolds, Zinnias, Portulaca, Verbena, Petunias.

Which flowers are in bloom mid May?

If the seedlings are planted now you should have flowers of Petunias, Marigolds, Portulaca, Lobelia, Phlox, Salvia, Angelonia, Vinca, Nasturtiums, Verbena, Chrysanthemums, Begonias, Impatiens

What to plant instead of lawn on some adequate spaces, for beauty, as I like little growing plants (say 20cm), but not too many flowering plants?

Try Helichrysum petiolare, Lampranthus(Vygie), Gazania rigens, Stachys lanata, Agapanthus, Day Lilies, Ivy Geraniums, Phlox subulata ‘McDaniels cushion’, Portulaca AFRA ‘Prostrata’, Tulbaghia, Evolvulus ‘Blue my Mind’ and Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’.

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.

How water wise is a loquat tree? Is it a light of heavy “drinker”?

The Loquat is a category 3 Invader plant and may not be planted. If you have an existing tree you may keep it. It is a heavy ‘drinker’ but once established it is water wise.

I live in Pietermaritzburg and would like information on growing dwarf citrus, pawpaw and other trees on my balcony. I’m on the 2nd floor.

You can grow citrus and other trees on the balcony. The trees must get a good half-a-day sun. They must be planted in large containers in well drained compost enriched potting soil. They need to be fertilised regularly and watered well.

My lawn is dead and I want to replace t with something else. Space is probably about 6m x 4m. Any suggestions welcome

You could replace it with ground cover. You could use Wonderlawn. If it isn’t a high traffic area you could use ground cover like Pennyroyal, Gazania rigens,Sagina, Dynondia.

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.

Will Angelonia Serena grow on the KZN South Coast?

You would be able to grow Angelonia Serena as long as it isn’t in the direct salt wind.

I need advice regarding water save plants in summer months in dry Western Cape.

Try planting Abelia grandiflora, Carissa macrocarpa, Phormiums (Flax), Westringia, Agapanthus, Tulbaghia, Trachelospermum, Hebe varieties, and Helichrysum petiolare. Do water the plants until they are established.

Can I spray oleum on lemon trees with fruit?

Yes you can. Wash the fruit well when you pick them. Oleum is a mineral oil.

I am looking for a fast growing evergreen tree to plant in a corner (N-E facing) of a small garden. Would like it to attract birds. Would a pompom tree be suitable and not too expensive? It will be replacing a dying cypress.

Yes a Pom Pom tree would be suitable. The price would depend on the size of the tree. You try the evergreen Syzygium paniculatum. It has an edible berry that birds love.

I have a flower bed that gets sun for a few hours a day in summer. I have planted herbs there, which were quite successful, but quite lanky: I suspect due to too little sun. In winter it will get no sun and I’ll therefor remove the annual herbs. What can I plant in their place? Next summer I want to plant herbs again. As we’re renting I don’t want to spend too much money.

Mint, Parsley, Chives and Coriander will grow in the shade.

We have moved into a new house where had to put up a perimeter fence. weI would like to plant a hedge on the road side part of the perimeter fence but need your advice on why type of hedge to plant. A limitation is we have 20cm of ground in front of the fence for planting as there is a loffelstein retaining wall below the fence.. In addition the soil is red, which does not appear to be ideal top soil quality. We would like a low maintenance hedge will grow and establish quickly. Please advise?

Try the indigenous Tecoma. It is evergreen, water wise, grows fast and is not fussy about the type of soil it grows in.

Hi, I’d like winter and summer succulents planted together once a season’s flowers should go down the other flowering begins… and want to know there are constantly flowers. Please I need advice about it…

You could plant Mesembryanthemum (Bokbaai Vygies) for winter/spring and Portulaca for summer/autumn

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.

My lawn is dying in some patches, yet green in others. I’m sure it’s not lack of water. Poured soapy water onto a patch and plenty worms and tiny black beetles came to the surface. What could I treat/ spray the lawn with?

Treat the lawn with Wonder 4:1:1 with Karbaspray. This feeds the lawn and kills the worms.

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.

Is Angelonia Serena part of the ‘tea’ family?

No it is not part of the ‘tea’ family

Angelonia Serena is very pretty – is it a shrub?

It is an annual small mounded upright plant that flowers from late spring to autumn. If it is cut back regularly you can get it going through winter. It needs to be fertilised regularly.

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 Seagro, try feeding with a 3:1:5 Organic fertiliser.

I’m looking to add some “life” in my aunt’s dull house for her birthday, I’d like some tips on what I could get and how to maintain. Thank you very much.

If you have bright indoor light you could try Kalanchoe, Maranta, types of Cacti and succulents, African Violets, Bamboo Palm. If it is a low light area try Spathiphyllum, Philodendron scandens, Yucca, Monstera, Calathea.

I live in Kraaifontein which is in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town. I have a problem with alien wasps which are busy killing my lawn. I can see them hover above the leaves and my lawn’s roots are almost all over yellow and dry. What can I use to get rid of them? I also noticed that most of the lawns in my neighbourhood are also infected with brown and dried out roots spots.

I am not sure it is the wasps that is killing the lawn. It could be worms. Try Wonder 4:1:1 with Karbakill

I would like to know what trees give nice shade (might want to be deciduous) and will thrive in Virginia in the Free State, and a Pen Root System. 2) We are struggling terribly to make vegetables grow here, the sun burns almost all dead. Green beans the season beautifully grown, but when feeding the finches all the flowers on. If we have a framework with a veil on, the vegetable garden devise, what degree (or colour) should be the shade cloth?

There are very few trees that have a Tap root system. These trees are indigenous and have a smaller root system. Try Dombeya rotundifolia (deciduous) or Heteropyxis natalensis(deciduous) or Buddleja saligna. It is difficult to grow vegetables in the hot sun and the birds can be a problem. Try covering your framework with  shade cloth that is 40 percent.

Which vegetables will do well in my area (Centurion) when planted?

Vegetables planted now that will do well are Beetroot, Carrots, Spinach, Cabbage, celery, lettuce, radish, onions, leeks, turnips.

Portulaca vignettes are heat resistant, do they grow well in between rocky parts?

Yes they grow well in rocky parts as long as they some soil to grow in. They are shallow-rooted.

I live in Pretoria… Lots of sun; shade is damp and I so want to grow impatients in the garden. Guess pots are the answer and look for suitable half shade/sun area?

Grow SunPatiens in pots. These can take half sun and shade.

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