All-the-feels landscaping Industry Expert

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March Topic: Tenacious texture
Theme: All-the-feels landscaping    
Industry Expert: Jimie Malan
Garden Centre supplier: Malanseuns https://www.malanseuns.co.za/

Their stellar reputation and quality plants over the past 110 years in the industry, have put Malanseuns on top of the list as one of South Africa's best Garden Centre suppliers. Life is a Garden met with Jimie Malan to get the best advice on how to bring in bold texture into your garden this March. Come find out how to add movement, contrast, and sound to your backyard and reap all the feels before winter arrives!

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1. We loved reading the origin story on your website and how Danie Malan founded your family business all the way back in 1913! Can you tell us a bit about your personal gardening journey and how you have come to fit into the Malanseuns Pleasure Plants story?

Since I can remember, I enjoyed being in the garden. You can basically say I was brought up by plants. Some of my fondest memories are walking with my late grandma through her garden. She taught me all about plants and shared so many lovely stories about her favourite flowers. The love for plants runs through the Malan family’s veins and I too realised that my absolute passion is plants! You can almost say we have green blood and not red.

It is truly a big honour for me, as the leader, to work with this amazing Malanseuns team. Every day is a new adventure with plants. To me, it is very fulfilling to see new growth and also to follow the process of a plant growing into something beautiful!

I always say that you can be an artist with plants, simply by using their many different colours, shapes and textures.

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2. The Malanseuns brand is certainly a renowned one.

The ferocious 4 – carnivorous plants to die for! Predator plant month

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Come meet our ferocious four - your next hobby and likely, fantastic new obsession. Part plant and part pet, these fascinating predators with roots are perfect for beginners and will reward you with years of companionship, charm, and wonderment.  

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1. Venus flytrap:

Arguably the most popular predator. The ‘traps’ are two hinged lobes at the end of each leaf with hair-like trichomes that signal the snapping action. Digestive enzymes get to work as the plant absorbs a lovely nutritious soup. 

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2. Trumpet pitcher plant:

This cleaver funnel-like plant hunts using a pit-fall trap. Insects are attracted by a nectar-like secretion on the top of the leaves. The nectar is poisonous, sending intoxicated bodies tumbling down the funnel to be digested.

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3. Sundew:

These sassy plants exude a sticky substance that attracts and then traps insects and other small prey. Their meal is quickly swallowed by a web of tiny tentacles and digested by enzymes within the plant stems and leaves.

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4. Tropical pitcher:

More sack-like in appearance, they too attract insects using sweet intoxicating nectar. Prey slip on the rims of the plant, falling into a pool of poison. Soon, the insects drown inside the sticky acidic liquid, followed by digestion. 

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Top carnivorous plant tips

  • Research your plant’s particular needs and respond to the changing external conditions.
  • Predator plants thrive in nutrient-deficient soil with access to plenty of insects. 
  • When growing in containers, ensure pots have adequate drainage and are made of a material that does not adversely impact the PH and quality of the soil. 
  • Always use the correct potting medium. A blend of sphagnum peat and perlite is their favourite. Ask your GCA Garden Centre assistant for the best products to use.  

 

Read more about predator plants here: botanical boss article

Predator plant month Botanical Boss

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Predator plant month

What’s better than shark week? Predator plant month! Arguably one of the most charismatic collectables, carnivorous plants are a true spectacle in the garden. To help you become a predator botanical boss, Life is a Garden sat down with industry experts for the best advice on how to care for these exotic beauties. Your next exciting hobby and gardening project with the kids awaits!

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FAQ’s with the Carnivore Queen from Jozi Carnivores.

How much sun does my plant need?

In general, carnivorous plants need plenty of sun as they are not good at photosynthesising (tropical pitcher plants, however, need dappled shade). The most common cause of plants not thriving is insufficient or incorrect sunlight.

Can I use any water?

Predator plants require water that is nutrient, mineral, and chlorine free. Rainwater, distilled water, or reverse osmosis water are perfect for your carnivores. Borehole water can also work but this depends on the quality of your particular water source. Mineral water is not suitable because it contains, well, minerals - and our carnivores like it rough.

How do I water my carnivorous plants?

Remember that most varieties are bog plants. You can recreate their natural environment at home by simply standing the plants in a shallow tray and watering from the bottom. The tropical pitcher plant, however, is the exception again as it is found in rainforests and needs to be watered from the top.

*Find out how to make your own bog garden here: Bog in a bucket DIY

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Can I repot my predators in ordinary soil?

Normal garden soil, potting soil, and compost are too rich for carnivorous plants and will kill them quickly. Plants require an acidic, nutrient-deficient potting medium as they get most of their sustenance from the insects they catch and not through their root system via the soil.

Bog in a bucket – your predator plant paradise DIY

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Adopting a carnivorous plant is like having a pet, so if you’re looking to begin teaching kids responsibility – this species is a great way to start. Similarly, if you’re looking for a new hobby or an engaging, long-term gardening project, a bog garden offers years of thrills and companionship. 

Did you know? The two types of trapping methods are grouped as either active or passive. Do some research to find out which style your little predator uses.

What’s a ‘bog’ anyway

In the wild, one would find our predator plants thriving inside water-logged, nutrient-deficient soil and stagnant water. Over many years, this little ecosystem of decaying plant matter and limited water flow created thick layers of mushy muck – the perfect environment for these incredible predators. Carnivorous plants certainly challenge what we know about fertilisers and the importance of ‘good’ fresh water. 

Your bog garden needs to mimic a lekker vrot swamp with 0 added nutrients as all the good stuff plants need comes from the insects they catch. It’s rather easy to create the perfect ‘bad’ environment for these plants when creating a bog in a bucked, which allows you full control over their living conditions AND external factors. When faced with hail, snow, frost, or other extreme weather, you’ll need to move your plant pets to safety. 

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You will need

1. Predator plants that have similar sun requirements and thrive from bottom watering as we’ll be replicating a marsh environment. We recommend homing these Thrilling Three together as they all enjoy full sun (at least 6 hours a day) and love wet feet. 

  • Sundew
  • Venus flytrap
  • Trumpet pitcher (NOT tropical pitcher as this guy needs dappled shade and top watering, so grow it separately)
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  • You will also need a very specific growing medium, which is a mixture of sphagnum peat and perlite, as well as reverse osmosis water or collected rainwater.

Incredible carnivores with roots Predator plant month

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February’s topic: Predator plant month
Theme: Incredible carnivores with roots!  
Industry expert: Renee Mendelow
Garden centre: Jozi Carnivores based in Midrand, Gauteng: www.jozicarnivores.co.za  

If you have yet to explore the extraordinary world of predator plants, Jozi Carnivores has your next epic gardening adventure sorted! Located on a beautiful farm with horses and trees, this specialised Garden Centre is well worth the outing and offers fascination for the whole family to engage in. With thousands of exotic carnivorous beauties to choose from, our industry expert, Renee, has provided some invaluable information and advice on how to become the ultimate predator plant parent. Come dig in, if you dare!

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1. Please tell us how your carnivore plant journey began and what made you fall in love with this most unusual species?  

I discovered carnivorous plants at a time when I had three children in primary school. We were going to so many children’s birthday parties and spending so much money on gifts that were mostly about packaging and plastic. It made me feel sad. Around that time, I spotted a little Venus flytrap in a nursery and bought it for my daughter who shared my love of nature. She adored her Venus flytrap but a day or two later she emerged looking sad and worried. “It’s my Venus flytrap” she declared, “It’s bored and lonely and just sits around all day waiting for something to happen”. We clearly had a problem on our hands, so we decided to find a friend for the lonely plant. 

We trawled the nurseries but found none. We then searched the internet and found a carnivorous grower in Cape Town. I was then exposed to the incredible world of carnivorous plants and discovered the fascinating variety available. I realised quickly that predator plants serve as an excellent educational, organic gift for children that also taught positive values such as caring for a living thing.

Predator plants for killer impact Predator plant month

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Come meet our ferocious four - your next hobby and likely, fantastic new obsession. Part plant and part pet, these fascinating predators with roots are perfect for beginners and will reward you with years of companionship, charm, and wonderment.

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Self-parenting plants Botanical Boss

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We know that the struggle is real when planning a trip – who will look after your plant children and will they get enough water? As such, Life is a Garden would like to help all the plant moms and dads with some DIY upcycling watering hacks and drought-hardy plant picks that will help your garden self-parent while you enjoy a much-deserved holiday. 

 

Short trip bottle watering (outdoors - 3 to 4 days)

  • Suitable for: Larger beds (use multiple bottles) or containers in full sun to semi-shade.
  • Equipment needed: Empty wine bottles or any sturdy bottle with a small mouth. 
  • Preparation: Ensure there is space to place the bottle that won’t damage foliage or roots
  • Method: Fill the bottle with water and then, while covering the opening with your thumb, flip it upside-down and quickly shove the bottle near the base of the plant (removing your thumb just before). Push the neck down to make sure the bottle is secure and reinforce with stones if needed. 

Troubleshooting: If you see that the water is not moving or perhaps your soil is very clay-like, glue a mesh screen over the mouth to prevent soil from clogging the bottle opening.

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Longer trip bottle dripper (outdoors - 4 to 7 days)

  • Suitable for: Larger beds (use multiple bottles) or containers in full sun to semi-shade.
  • Equipment needed: Plastic water/juice bottles (size dependent on your area/container) and a drill with a thin drill bit. 
  • Preparation: Dig a hole near the plant that will be large enough to bury the bottle up to its neck, take care to avoid damaging roots. 
  • Method: Drill three holes at the bottle of the plastic bottle and 3 holes on each side then pop it into the prepared hole (add more holes for large bottles). Gently level the soil around the bottle and fill it with water.

 

This group of plants called epiphytes, seem to hail from another planet. Using their roots as anchors only, they come in an array of shapes and colours. Needing very little to no soil, Tillandsias and orchids can become great house mates under the right conditions. If these adorable, supernatural plants have piqued your interest, tune into this Masterclass where we look at varieties, how to display them and take care of them.

Garden Day

Garden Day is a chance for people across the country to down tools and celebrate their gardens. Everyone can take part, regardless of the size of their gardens – rolling lawns, potted window sills, urban rooftops and patio planters – all are welcome.

What you do on Sunday, 9 October 2022 is completely up to you – the most important thing is to head outdoors, wear a flower crown, and welcome Spring with a garden celebration.

Plant Flanders Poppy for Remembrance Day

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Poppies, flanders, red, war, garden, mayford, gardening, flowers, spring, greenery, colour, life is a garden, biodiversity

Lest We Forget 

In anticipation of this year’s Remembrance Day, MayFord Seeds have launched a new livery seed packet, filled with Flanders poppy (Papaver rhoeas) seeds. 

War is unfortunately still a reality in our modern world, whether it be conflict between countries or the fight against Covid 19. Initially instituted to commemorate those that fell in World War 1, Remembrance Day on the 11th of November now symbolises all those that have lost their lives in the line of duty. The Flanders poppy, which carpeted the battlefields of the Western Front, is worn or laid as wreaths to mark the day. 

Time is of the essence though. If you want your very own crop of striking poppies in bloom for Remembrance Day, simply visit a GCA Garden Centre soon  and purchase your seed packet to sow. These delightful flowers  are really easy to grow. Choose a bed that gets loads of sun, dig it over, sprinkle the seed, pat down and water. If they can grow on a bombed-out battlefield, they will just love your garden! 

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Top Tips 

  • The seed needs cool soil conditions to germinate, so plant them from late autumn into early spring. 
  • Germination should occur within 2 to 3 weeks. 
  • Plant in a sunny position in beds or pots. 
  • You can either sow them in drifts around the garden or do a massed planting in one bed. 
  • Dig over the bed before planting and plant the seed where you want them to mature as they prefer not to be moved. 
  • Once sown, pat down the soil firmly and water well. 
  • Keep the soil damp until the seedlings are established, after which the plants are surprisingly water-wise. 
  • They do respond well to liquid fertilisers. 
  • Deadhead any spent flowers to extend their flowering time. 
  • The blooms can be used as cut flowers.

Tiptop Topiary

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Tiptop Topiary

Show off your champion gardening skills with stunning topiary plants, pruned to sophisticated perfection. Follow Life is a Garden’s topiary style guide and get the look this autumn!  

Top tip: Most evergreen shrubs can be trained to grow into any shape or direction. All you need is some imagination and a good set of shears.  

Get the look

Lollipop: Choose a tall, bushy plant with a strong main stem. Stake the plant well to help it grow upright. Start shaping the head by cutting back stems to about 2 to 3 nodes and clearing the main stem of all other growth. Plant picks: Abutilon, anisodontea, brunfelsia, and Murraya exotica.

Poodle-cut: Go for a slim but bushy plant and stake it securely. Visualise where the dense leaf growth will form the three ‘poodle-cut’ spheres. Shape your balls beginning at the base and clear all other growth. Plant picks: Duranta 'Sheena's Gold', cherry laurel, Cypress, and pittosporum.

Spirals: Choose a slim conifer and challenge yourself with this design. You will need a long, strong stake around which the plant will be twisted, creating the spirals. Complete the look by cleaning around the twists to maintain their spiral shape. Plant picks: Juniperus scopulorum ‘Skyrocket’ and all other pencil conifers. 

Try these topiary styles: Parterres, mazes, labyrinths, knot gardens, espalier, frames, hedging, shapes, and cute animals. 

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Topiary garden plant flowers shrubs greenery trim design environment april

More terrific topiary plants

Foliage-dense for pruning: Duranta gold, syzygium paniculatum, ficus varieties, ligustrum undulatum, as well as lemon and lime trees. Feed plants monthly with a 2:1:2 fertiliser and mulch around the base with organic plant material. 

Flowering bushes for shaping: Solanum, fuchsias, freylinia, hibiscus, and westringia. Feed plants monthly with a 3:1:6 fertiliser. As soon as they start shooting new branches, cut them back to give them a fuller, more compact shape.

Try these topiary styles: Parterres, mazes, labyrinths, knot gardens, espalier, frames, hedging, shapes, and cute animals. 

Style your Bougie Get the best from your bougainvillea

The bougainvillaea is an all-time favourite in the garden and never disappoints in the bold colour, daring height, and textural intrigue they bring to spaces. Get the best from your bougie this month with Life is a Garden’s insights on pruning styles, container planting, fertilising, indoor growing, caring tips and more. 

 

Planting tips for youngsters 

Available in red, purple/mauve, white, yellow, orange, magenta and many shades of pink, bougainvillaeas are simply stunning but rather sensitive when young. As adolescence, bougies have easily damageable, brittle root systems. When planting, we recommend wetting the soil thoroughly before transplanting from the nursery bag or container. Do not loosen the soil away from the roots during this process to avoid transplant stock that really takes its toll on new arrivals. 

Top tip: Bougainvillaeas love warm, sunny spots with well-drained, rich and loamy soil. They prefer infrequent but deep watering. 

 

Styling and bougie training 

Bougainvillaea plants are essentially creepers, but with nifty pruning, they can be trained to grow into several styles and shapes. Teach your bougies to grow into neat formal hedges using mesh or wooden trellises. In smaller gardens, they can be controlled by frequent pruning and even styled into ball shapes called superballs or standards. Depending on the size of the ball or the height required, bold bougie columns can also be created and are real show-stopping décor elements. 

Top tip: Go for low-growing varieties and experiment with hedging styles and wall cover-ups. Remember to use string to tie down your bougies while still in training school. 

 

Pruning yay’s and nay’s 

Pruning should be carried out once your Bougainvillaea has finished flowering. This encourages new growth upon which the next flush of fabulous flowers will grow. A good general rule is that regular light pruning will keep them in good shape with near constant regrowth and banging blooms.