Dad’s day is coming up and that means DIY gift time for us gardeners! Give that special father figure in your life something from you and the kids that’s both practical and brag-worthy. This DIY requires no power tools, making it an easy activity for children of all ages to enjoy. Life is a Garden is bringing the outdoors to dad’s desk, here’s how:
A trio of awesomeness
Your table pot platter essentially consists of three smaller pots (square or round) arranged inside a larger circular container (pot saucers work well). Pot one will home your hardy focal point plant and pots two and three will be filled with dad’s favourite snacks (like biltong, nuts or candy). All three smaller pots need to fit well inside the larger platter container, so be sure to keep sizes in mind when out shopping.
Top snack tip: Find a sealable container that fits inside your snack pot so that treats can easily be sealed when dad’s not around. If dad is home-based, get the kids to top up the snack pot with more surprises and yummies throughout the day.
You will need
Pot platter assembly
Evergreen indoor plants, containers and raised pot stands of all shapes and sizes are widely available at your GCA Garden Centre. This DIY is ideal for the office or workshop table in need of some decorative greenery and homeliness. Simply transplant dad’s new plant into the focal point pot, water well and allow to drain fully. Then, arrange all three of the smaller pots inside the larger round saucer. Fill any gaps inside the main container (around the smaller pots) with pebbles or wood chips for a further ruggedly trendy look, or leave as is for a neat finish
Try this: If you’ve got a funky dad, get the kids to paint the outer container for a colourful, heartfelt touch that will make dad ever so proud to show off his handmade gift. For the fancy desk dad, go for striking black pots with contrasting white pebbles to achieve a stylish minimalist finish.
Easy indoor plant picks
The ZZ plant, spider plant, philodendron, aloe vera, and Chinese evergreen are all very forgiving indoor plants that don’t need a lot of attention. Remember that indoor plants only need occasional watering during winter, so once every two weeks should do. Try peace lily (Spathiphyllum) as your focal point plant as these lovelies will droop their leaves when they are thirsty, making it easy to prevent overwatering and root rot. The snake plant is also a great choice for its low-light and drought tolerance, as well as eye-catching height. Pothos (Epipremnum) is another stylish contender for a bit of trailing over the edge of dad’s desk.
When choosing your focal point pot, remember to look for good drainage holes and a matching saucer. If your container needs a bit of filling, always go for quality potting soil from your nursery as all bags are treated for pests beforehand and contain all the nutrients your new plant needs. Enjoy designing dad’s new table pot platter this Father’s Day!
May is for the plant moms! Embrace becoming a botanical boss and dig your way into the world of plant parenting with confidence. Celebrate Mother’s Day with a new addition to the family or gift mommy dearest something to help with that empty nest. Follow Life is a Garden’s guide to successful indoor gardening.
Seasoned plant moms
If you’re looking for a plant that says “this isn’t my first child”, these three high-maintenance favourites will glamorously show off your expert parenting skills.
Tantrums about: could be anything but especially overwatering.
Bribe it with: patience, loose bark potting mix, indirect sunlight, humidity, scheduled watering.
Tantrums about: not being able to watch you shower.
Bribe it with: misting, dappled light, and humidity. Also, some time outdoors where it can see the sunset.
Tantrums about: being the only child and open spaces.
Bribe it with: bright, indirect sun, well-draining soil, lots of friends to increase humidity, and a shallow container (short-root syndrome).
First-time plant parents
When gifting or homing a plant as the first indoor offspring, go for these three easy greens that don’t always need to be the centre of attention.
May give glares when: irritated by too many water kisses.
Give pocket money and: only one or two waterings during winter and almost any light condition.
May give glares when: it’s too hot to play inside
Give pocket money and: well-drained soil, indirect light, occasional pruning of playful spiderettes.
May give glares when: grounded and unable to go anywhere.
Give pocket money and: a hanging basket or trellis, a little pruning, and a chance to dry out between watering.
Regardless of what you are planning to grow, here are our top tips for successfully raising your bundles of joy indoors.
Indoor gardening is a fabulous hobby! You could start an Instagram page to promote your plant-parenthood journey and let the world celebrate those special growth milestones with you. In addition, gardening of all kinds promotes a connection with nature, increases happiness, improves air quality, and is really fun (and slightly addictive).
From conversation starters to filling an empty nest, there’s always a reason to get a new plant or five! Remember to check the growing instructions of your new addition and make sure you can provide the perfect place for optimal growth. Life is a Garden, and plant moms are awesome!
Life is a Garden invites you to become eco-custodians to South Africa’s heralding wildlife, right from your backyard! Reap the rich rewards and fall in love with our vibrant biodiversity that flies, swarms, and crawls with life.
Local is the lekkerste: Growing indigenous plants means more habitat creation for our local wildlife, while also increasing our native plant species reduced by urbanisation and deforestation. SA’s critters and greens have a lekker advantage of being naturally adaptive to our environment, meaning less maintenance and more life in your garden!
Bring in biodiversity by
Happy soil = happy plants: Make sure you’ve got good drainage, use compost, mulch up, and fertilise.
Remember to visit your favourite GCA Garden Centre where you can purchase all sorts of wildlife accessories and gorgeous gogga-attracting plants. You’ll find all the compost and fertiliser you need too, as well as some very stylish birdbaths and cute garden décor.
As the sun sets to welcome the evening sky in all its colourful glory, sit back and relax on the balcony with some potted poppies and petunias for company. These lovelies are the perfect choice for all-year-round charm and vibrance. Here is Life is a Garden’s guide on how to successfully grow and care for your new patio and balcony besties.
Petunias are available in a range of colours, each as bright as the next. Position them in a mostly sunny spot and ensure they are never completely dry. Perform the finger test to see when to water petunias as you would rather want to underwater than overwater these babes.
Petunias require well-draining, aerated and slightly acidic soil. Potting soil mix works well, especially if you combine it with a little peat moss to lower pH levels.
These ladies love lots of food. Most potting mixes have the right amount of nutrients but to be sure, use a slow-release fertiliser after planting. Alternatively, compost will give Petunias the feeding they need, just remember to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the soil’s drainage abilities.
This encourages plants to direct their energy into creating more flowers, rather than wasting it on already fading blooms. Deadheading also keeps your plant looking neat and tidy. Simply remove flowers that are beyond their prime by pinching them off from just below their base.
Poppies are a timeless classic. They might not be the easiest flower to grow but their vibrant colour and sweetness is certainly worth the extra care. Poppy varieties that grow well in pots include oriental poppies, Iceland poppies, California poppies, and Shirley poppies. Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule) provide an incredible, colourful show during winter.
Poppies dislike being transplanted. As such, we recommend purchasing poppy seedling trays along with a little booster food to help with the transplant shock. You can get all these from your GCA Garden Centre. Place containers in a full sun position and be sure to water the seedlings gently as they have very delicate roots. Once in flower, poppies need to be deadheaded to increase the number of blooms.
Poppies enjoy a neutral to slightly acidic pH. They require excellent drainage but rich soil. A loamy, well-draining potting mix will be perfect.
Poppies enjoy minimal water during and before their flowering season. They can be watered every day but ensure not to overwater each time you do. When they’re about to flower, and throughout their flowering period, water moderately, maintaining excellent drainage.
Fertiliser should only be applied during the growing season. It is best to apply a slow-release fertiliser when you first plant them. If you didn’t, a balanced liquid feed, every two weeks will provide potted Poppies with the nutrients they need.
Be on the lookout for aphids and water regularly to avoid red spider mite damage. Ensure you choose a good-quality potting mix to avoid root rot.
If you’re looking to enjoy sunsets in the city, you simply can’t go wrong with these balcony besties. A wide selection of pots and hanging baskets will further help to highlight your new additions, so be sure to consider the style of your chosen containers when planning your new living décor.
The Pantone colour of the year is Very Peri – a courageous, statement-making violet-blue that generates creativity and inspiration in the garden. Cultivate some confidence and curiosity this autumn by incorporating planting a striking variety of purple Veri Peri stunners. Here is Life is a Garden’s grow guide for 2022.
According to the trend-setters at Pantone, “17-3938 Very Peri is a dynamic periwinkle blue hue with a vivifying violet-red undertone that blends the faithfulness and constancy of blue with the energy and excitement of red”. In addition, this colour represents:
With such passionate connotations connected to this colour, there really is only one thing left to do – GCA Garden Centre here we come!
Did you know? The health benefits of purple food include anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Anthocyanidins are responsible for the purple pigment in our edibles and also helps to boost the immune system.
Did you know? Having shades of purple plants around the house helps to invoke peace and happiness. There’s a lot going on in the world, so if you’re looking to reap a little more optimism for the new year, grow these:
Top tip: Remember to check the sowing and growing season chart on all seed packets, seedling trays, and pots for the best time to introduce your new purple splendours to the garden.
Did you know? When looking at these Veri Peri inspired bulbs, the warmer red-purples are seen as more energetic to the human eye, while the subdued blue-purples are seen as peaceful and contemplative.
Did you know? Pairing these Veri Peri annuals with hues directly across the colour wheel, such as lime greens and yellow, will create a dynamic contrast in the garden that brings out the best of both extraordinary colours.
Did you know? You can create an analogous hue bed by grouping your red-purple and blue-purple perennials together. Experiment with hot and cool-coloured pallets around the garden for a popping landscape this season.
Perennial plants regrow every spring while annuals only live for one growing season. The advantage of perennials is that they don’t often need replacing (if well looked after), while annuals reward the garden with unique seasonal charm.
Did you know? Of all the colours, purple is most associated with rarity, royalty, magic, and mystery. Back in the day, some Roman emperors even forbid their citizens from wearing purple or they would face the death penalty!
Begin your Veri Peri adventure this month by planting these chilled out, charismatic lovelies in beds and pots for a little upliftment as we head into shorter days and longer nights. You can purchase these plants along with fertilisers, compost, and other gardening accessories from your favourite GCA Garden Centre.
Become part of the trendy gardening vibe-tribe and have fun playing with the Pantone colour of the year. Bring in excitement, courage, and joy by growing some of these truly gorgeous plants. Life is a Garden, and it’s a purple party!
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.
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.
If you’re new to the world of topiary, you could always practice your shaping skills on fast-growing and affordable rosemary bushes in containers. If you love the look but have a busy lifestyle, why not go for life-like, maintenance-free, faux topiaries as patio and indoor décor. Have fun styling your plants and experimenting with different shapes!
Happy second month of autumn, gardeners! Although it’s getting colder, the landscape is truly warmed up by the rich colour pallet around us. With many plants going into hibernation, cool-season flowers are only just waking up and getting ready to treat us to their colourful charm. It’s time to sort out some pre-winter maintenance and prep the veggie patch for soups and stews.
Planting new roses now will allow them to ‘settle in’ during winter and gain a head start in spring. Continue to spray your roses against fungal diseases such as mildew and black spot.
Awesome plants to sow
Top tip: Guard against leaving containers on windowsills overnight as cold glass may harm plants.
Top tip: Watch out for ant movement - the main culprits for transferring disease around the garden. Sprinkle Ant Dust around their holes and along their trails.
If you’re unsure about which fertilisers or sprays to use, remember to ask your knowledgeable garden centre advisors for help. Any other plants that need transplanting can also be done now, giving them a chance to adjust so that come springtime, they are blooming with life.
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.
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.
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 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. Pruning also helps reduce disease and extends the life of the plant. Pruning during winter will set the tone for the new season and give your bougie a great head start.
Top tip: Pinch off tender ends that are about to bloom to promote denser, brighter blooms.
Bougainvillaea will also thrive containers as long as the potting mix is well-drained, nutritious, and receives infrequent but deep watering. They need as much sun as they can get but will tolerate some shade during the day. When growing indoors, choose a spot that receives some sun and is always well-lit. Prune indoor bougies regularly and be careful not to overwater them. When selecting your container, look for pots with plenty of drainage holes (don’t forget the saucer) and keep in mind that the size of the pot will also affect the size of your bougie growth.
Top tip: Try special container growing bougainvillaea varieties such as vera purple/white, flame, ruby, and rijnstar.
A balanced foliar fertiliser can be applied every four weeks during the growing period. Alternatively, a slow-release 3:1:5 fertiliser every two to three months will also do wonders. Ask your GCA Garden Centre attendants for advice and recommendations on which feeding solutions to use. Another great thing about bougies is that they are virtually disease-free, provided they have lots of sunlight. During winter in particularly cold regions, a frost cloth should be used for protection, but they are generally quite resistant and grow back well.
Top tip: Look out for aphids and red spider mites that may spawn during spring. Luckily, these are easy to take care of with the variety of organic and chemical pesticides available at nurseries.
Remember to mulch around all bougainvillaea beds and containers to retain soil moisture and reduce weed growth. Follow these tips for the best bougie growing and may your creeping and hedging journey be flamboyant and ever successful! Life is a Garden, and yours definitely needs a thriving bougainvillaea.
The heat is on this Feb and that means three things for the summer gardener:
Life is a Garden has all you need to help you beat the heat and ensure your beloved plant children not only survive, but thrive in our African summer sun. Take care of your lawn, feed and spray, sow and grow, and keep your containers hydrated.
What’s so magical about mulch? Leaves bark chips, macadamia shells, compost, and pebbles are all considered mulch. The magic of mulch is that it keeps the soil and plants’ roots cool, thereby decreasing evaporation and increasing water retention. That’s less water consumption for the Earth and less time spent on watering for you! #winwin
To sow: Spinach, globe artichokes, parsley, carrots, radish, cauliflower, celery, cabbage, oriental vegetables, sweet basil, coriander, nasturtium, and flat-leaf parsley.
To plant: Bush beans, onions, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beetroot, and Swiss chard.
To tend to: Remove summer vegetables that are coming to the end of their productive cycle to make space for the next seasonal harvest. Add compost to veggie beds and make sure your soil is nice and loose, and reloaded with nutrition.
To prep: It’s time to prepare beds for winter and spring crops. Plant your first crop of seed potatoes for an early winter harvest.
To remember: Don’t forget about companion planting as your secret pest and pollination weapon. Increase your crop yield and utilise the bad-bug-repelling power of flowers. Learn more here.
Primetime babes: Bougainvilleas, hemerocallis (daylilies), variegated and green foliage plants are showing off their charm this month. Yours may need some TLC if they’re not popping by now.
Sweetheart sowing: Amazingly fragrant and fuss-free sweet peas are ready to be sown from seed packets available for your nursery. Try bush varieties sown in pots and hanging baskets for extra specialness around the stoep and patio. Soak sweet pea seeds in water overnight before sowing for better germination.
A pretty tip: Although petunias are a firm favourite, they should not be planted twice in the same spot to prevent soil-borne diseases.
The hottest of the lot: Orange hermannia (Hermannia pinnata), marigolds, wild rosemary (Eriocephalus africanus), and Honeybells (Freylinia lanceolata) are heat-lovin’ plants that will thrive in Feb.
Sassy seedling trays: Sow cinerarias, gazanias, Iceland poppies, primulas, violas, pansies, larkspurs, Canterbury bells, columbines, sweet Williams and aquilegias now.
Top water-wise tip: Check the weather report gardeners! You can very easily save time and water by planning your weekly watering in accordance with your areas natural rainfall.
Be the BEST: Remember to get the buckets and collection containers out during the rain. All the water we have is already on Earth! Conserving as much as we can is essential in playing our part as conscious gardeners. Use your collected rain water instead of the hose pipe to give your pots and beds a drink during this scorcher of a month.
Before planting, soak your terracotta pot overnight to saturate the clay and prevent it from stealing moisture from new plants. Place a paper coffee filter inside to avoid losing soil during watering. Heavier pots with thicker walls will last longer and handle frost better too.
Did you know? Wasps are pollinators too, although not as efficient as our fuzzy-legged bees that are able to collect more of the good stuff. However, one particular miniature wasp, the braconid, is the tomato gardener’s best friend. This bad boy loves feasting on the tomato hornworm, a well-known destructive pest.
The braconid wasp very cleverly lays its eggs in a living host, such as the hornworm, thereby ensuring a lifecycle of nutrition. The braconid will entirely consume its host as it progresses through the pupa, cocoon, and adult phases of its life.
Let them breed: If you see a hornworm covered in eggs or pupae, leave it alone. This nursery is producing an army of eco-warriors!
Enjoy your handsome February garden and never let the weather be too hot for your plants to handle. Remember to mulch up to the max and get water-wise savvy. Life is a Garden, and meant to be enjoyed in the summer!
Get your garden into shape and looking snazzy for the new year. There’s a lot to look forward to and a huge selection of flowers and edibles to be planted now. A little maintenance goes a long way in neatening up your garden’s appearance, so be sure to check out our handy hacks.
What better way to get your garden and health back on track then by sowing nutritious leafy greens for those summer salads. The following edibles can be sown now:
Top tip: Leafy greens are very easy to grow and will reward gardeners best if you pick the leaves regularly and pinch out flower buds later in the season. Be on the lookout for cutworm, snail and slug damage to plants.
January is always a good time to plant up areas with colourful annual seedlings. The heat is on so brighten up beds by planting these sun-worshippers.
Be on the lookout for yellow patches appearing suddenly on your lawn from early January. This is a sure sign of the night-time foraging lawn caterpillar (also known as army worm). To be sure, place a moist bag or cloth on the patch in the evening and check underneath in the morning. If it is caused by army worms, they would be crawling under the cloth thinking it is still night. Ask your local GCA Garden Centre for the correct treatment method.
A good option is a 8:1:5 fertiliser or if you prefer the organic alternative, they are both available. Your garden and pots will benefit tremendously from a January booster. Remember to fertilise between the plants on moist soil and to water over the fertiliser afterwards.
Give your Fuchsias a facelift by cutting back the stem tips after flowering. By cutting the stems back up to 5 or 10cm from the tip, you will allow it to bush out and give the plant more vigour to see the season through.
Splurge on your beloved garden a little this January and help get it back into shape. Garden centres are stocked with amazing succulents and seasonal gems for you to sneak home. Have a flower-filled summer and show-stopping start to your year. Life is a Garden, so dig in and indulge!
Rev up and rejoice – it’s time to motor in October! Garden Day is on Sunday the 17th, giving you the perfect reason to host a little outdoor eco-celebration - #gardenyay. Welcome spring in full swing and give your garden, potted windowsills, and patio planters some much-deserved admiration from loved ones. Also, it’s rose month! GCA’s are stocked with some serious stunners, waiting just for you. There’s much to plant, grow, and sow too, as well some easy-peasy maintenance to take care of. With compost and spades in hand, let’s get to work!
Your top 5 babes available at GCA’s now are:
Rosey tips: Avoid wetting rose leaves in the late afternoon as this may encourage black spot and powdery mildew. Plant living mulch between your roses such as erigeron, verbena or lobularia. Remember to feed with special rose fertiliser every 4 weeks for max bloom power.
Plant and sow now
Top seedling tip: Give your seedlings the best head start in life by planting them in compost-enriched soil. When transplanting, avoid pulling them out by their stems and rather push them out from the bottom of the punnet. Pinch out their growth tips as they mature for a bushier plant.
Top sowing tip: To prevent small seeds from sticking to your fingers and clumping together, mix them with some dry sand, then sprinkle over moist soil.
Bustling hunger busters
Edible encouragement: Feed young veggies every two weeks with a water-soluble fertiliser and keep a sharp eye on germinating weeds between rows. Set snail bait amongst strawberry plants and provide a mulch of straw, coarse clippings, or weed matting to prevent the fruit from touching the soil. Pick the fruit frequently to encourage more produce.
There you have it - your October to-do list is complete. Life is a garden is always on your side, and we want to see you take charge this spring. Your GCA Garden Centre is fully loaded with all your compost, fertiliser, pest, and plant needs. Go snatch up some stunners for Garden Day and enjoy all the new blooms that have come out to play.
The season that needs no introduction – it can only be spring! This is an exciting time for gardeners filled with blossoms, blooms, and renewed beauty after the winter. This month, Life is a Garden loves the spekboom, and we’ve got some special varieties to share. The veggie garden is every home grower’s dream, so check out our edible zingers for September. Perennials and bulbs are also ready to crank up the heat in the garden, so let’s dig and plant right in!
Portulacaria afra (elephant's food, elephant bush, or spekboom) is an indigenous superstar in our South African climate. They tolerate high humidity, high rainfall or drought, heat, desert sun or well-lit indoor spaces. They are frost-tender but will bounce back quickly. Not prone to pests or disease either, the spekkie boasts the following fabulous benefits:
Did you know? Spekboom provides 80% of an elephant’s diet and can live up to 200 years.
Plant these Portulacaria afra varieties now in well-drained soil with a dash of organic fertiliser available from your GCA Garden Centre.
In the bloom prune zone: Mayflowers, banksia roses, hibiscus and poinsettia are ready for a snip. Deadhead pansies and violas now too.
Top tip: Remember to head over to your GCA Garden Centre for organic fertilisers to help you get the most from your greens. Seed packets are the cheapest way to grow your own food and are widely available at nurseries and supermarkets.
Wildlife-attracting, shade-providing, and spring-blooming trees to plant now are:
Our perfect pick: The indigenous Kiggelaria africana (wild peach) is a showy must-have for the critter-loving gardener. This beauty is drought-tolerant, evergreen, fast-growing, ideal for screening/hedging, costal safe (salt and wind), suitable for containers and small gardens, has minimal waste shedding, and the best part – this tree hosts the Acrea Horta butterfly and several other species too, including some stunning moths. Diederik and Red-chested Cuckoos feast on these caterpillars, keeping the numbers in check and sustaining your garden’s essential food chain. The fruits are not edible but trees will reward your garden with colour, charm, and an abundance of life!
Plant new lawn grass seed or grass plugs now. September is the best time for establishing new lawns as conditions give roots the perfect opportunity to settle down before the summer feet come rolling in. Fertilise and begin watering the lawn regularly and fix bare patches with a top-dressing of fine compost or commercial lawn dressing. Your GCA Garden Centre is fully stocked with all your lawn essentials, go check it out.
Watch out for these nasty guys that are as excited about spring as we are. Charge down to your nursery for eco-friendly pesticides that’ll make quick work of these pesky pests.
Enjoy your zesty, zinger of a spring and plant your heart out. The rains will soon be coming to give all your new babies some TLC, followed by warm, early wake-up calls for the sun. September is a party in the backyard when your Life is a Garden filled with blooms, edibles, and trees like these.
Bring your gardening passion to the kitchen with hydroponic growing, indoor composting, fruit trees, and air-purifying plants. Harvest yummy rewards and add a refreshing splash of greenery to space you spend so much time in.
*Lighten up your kitchen by installing LED grow lights to revive dark areas and get all your greens flourishing beautifully.
Experiment going soil-free and dare to be different with an intriguing water-based, edible garden. Hydroponic planting gives you complete control of the environment, minimises pests, boosts plant growth, and enables multiple veg varieties in one space.
Try planting lettuce, spinach, strawberries, blueberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumber (remember to grow according to season).
*Consult your garden centre advisor for different installation options, DIY hydroponic beginner kits, and nutrient formulas.
There are also self-watering vertical gardens for elegant and eye-catching living décor.
You don’t need a backyard to be a compost-pro. Turn your kitchen waste into eco-gold by setting up a bucket or bin system with tight-fitting lids. Compost buckets fit neatly in a cupboard and provide easy, quick solutions to organic waste disposal. Worm farming kits are also handy kitchen helpers and can be purchased from your local garden centre.
Growing from scraps and soil-free try these:
A lemon tree in the kitchen is a happy reminder to always make lemonade from life. These trees like high-light spaces (also substitutable with LED grow lights) and perform best in porous clay pots, which allow natural water evaporation and prevent water-logging issues (unlike plastic pots). The Eureka Lemon (Citrus Lemon ‘Eureka’) and the Lemon Meyer (Citrus x Meyeri) are perfect for the kitchen or patio and will bear fruit all year round, hooray!
Tree tip: Feed citrus trees with a general fertiliser and a handful of Epsom salt per tree.
*Maintain your indoor pot plants by replacing one-third of the topsoil with new, nutritious potting soil.
There’s even space in the kitchen garden for gogga-inspired greenery. Try planting these now:
Be a winter-winner, get your May maintenance in check, sow cool-season seeds, and grow with the flow as we enter our last month of autumn. We’re celebrating our adaptable green fingers by also highlighting Africa Month and all our glorious indigenous glory. The party doesn’t stop there – say hello to Phlebodium, the perfect indoor plant baby to gift to the woman you adore this Mother’s day!
Crispy blooms to plant
Bulb up: Honour our African heritage with a jive of colour from Sparaxis (Harlequin Flower), ixia, and Tritonia. Try also these perennial bulbous plants: Sweet garlic (Tulbaghia fragrans), Weeping anthericum (Chlorophytum saundersiae), Red-hot poker (Kniphofia praecox).
Bush out: Pork bush (Portulacaria afra) is a lekker local hero hedge. Good as a barrier plant, tolerates frequent pruning, extremely drought-resistant, and fast-growing.
Succ in: Aloes are in full swing, oh yeah Try Peri-Peri, Sea Urchin, and Porcupine.
The 4 P’s: Get down to your local GCA Garden Centre and start planting with the 4 P’s - poppies, pansies, petunias and primulas.
Rose bed revival: Long-stemmed roses can be picked now. If the plants are in full leaf, continue with your spraying programme but reduce watering. Plant winter-flowering annuals like pansies, poppies, or compact snapdragons, around rose bed edges to give them a revived burst of colour (and hide bare branches).
Split & divide: If the following perennials have stopped flowering, they’re ready for the operating table: Japanese Anemones (Anemone japonica) and Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana).
Be wise, fertilise: Annual stocks and larkspurs benefit from extra nitrogen to promote good growth and flowering throughout winter. Consult your GCA Garden Centre expert for advice on liquid fertilisers and other plant food.
Eye candy: Add rows of ornamental (and inedible) kale between other winter vegetables. Companion plants include beetroot, violas and pansies (both have edible flowers), onions, nasturtiums, and spinach. Ornamental kale makes an unusual but stunning winter option for colour.
Mixed masala: Interplant leafy winter veggies and root crops with herbs like lavender, thyme, oregano, parsley, yarrow, and comfrey.
Cuppa’ your own Joe: The coffee plant (Coffea arabica), which is actually a TREE, will earn you kudos from coffee snobs if you can manage to grow it successfully in a high-light indoor area. Imagine grinding home-grown beans? Count us in!
Un-gogga your cabbage: Pull up old sweet basil plants, chop them up, and then use them as a natural insect repellent mulch around your cabbages – fancy, na?
If it’s yellow, it ain’t mellow: Prevent disease by removing all yellow leaves from brassicas such as Brussel sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, and broccoli.
Fruitful advice: Feed avocado trees with 3:1:5 and mulch ‘em up. Plant litchis and citrus, while also keeping mango trees dry before their flowering starts. In coastal and lowveld areas, feed granadillas with a nitrogen and potassium combination fertiliser. Seek advice from your local GCA Garden Centre.
Prevent pests: Prevention is better than cure! Remember that good soil + good drainage + mulch + fertilising/feeding = a healthy plant with more flowers, more fruits, and more veg!
Spray away: Keep spraying those conifers with insecticide.
Rake it, baby: Rake fallen leaves off the lawn to prevent them from blocking out sunlight, and then pop them on the compost heap. Coastal gardeners can still apply one more dose of fertiliser before winter sets in.
Freeze alert: Make sure that you don't water too early or too late – wet plants will freeze, haai shame!
Like the calm before the cool, winter preparations are smooth sailing this month with Life is a Garden’s crisp April checklist. Gardening during the cooler months definitely has its own challenges, but also so many exciting flowers and veggies to look forward to. Did someone say spring bulbs already? Head over to your GCA Garden Centre and let’s plant right in!
Enjoy your time chilling out and ticking off your April checklist. Ride the wave of cool-season thrills and all that’s up for grabs in the garden. Whether you’re maintaining, sowing, planting, or pruning, there’s always something to do in the backyard. Life is a Garden – welcome the refreshing autumn breeze into yours.
Companion planting means growing certain plants close together for their mutually beneficial effects, such as pest protection or growth enhancement. Bedding besties allow you to have your cake AND eat it – your desired harvest flourishing gogo-free and eco-friendly with little other effort required from you. Mother Nature is clever like that – she knows what’s up. Here’s what to plant and reasons why your veggie needs a bestie. Life is a Garden, let’s optimise yours!
We often think of a veggie garden as produce sown in neat rows, exposed soil, and clear of any other plants not on the menu. Well, it might just be the time to revise this idea. There is so much to benefit from including other herbs and flowers to the veggie garden, which take care of pest control, weeds, water evaporation, poor soil conditions, composting, barren spaces and of course, pollination. Consider the idea of a starting a “mixed masala patch”, if you will, and let’s venture beyond the concept of a “vegetables-only” party.
Although we’re going for a “mixed masala patch”, it should be mentioned that not all plants like each other, and some can be pretty picky about who they bunk with. Your GCA Garden Centre guy will be able to advise you on the best buddy for your baby, but for now, here are some general friends of the veg with no-strings-attached benefits:
As mentioned earlier, some plants are incompatible while others are the perfect match. We’re helping gardeners avoid any regrettable flings this autumn by equipping you with a swipe-right (good), swipe-left (bad) companion planting guide. Here is a list of greens to sow now to get you started on your bedding romances. Cool-season vegetable seedlings are also available at your GCA Garden Centre.
Swipe right: Basil, chives, lettuce, onions, and peas.
Swipe left: Broccoli, cabbage, dill, fennel, and potatoes.
Swipe right: Beetroot, beans, cabbage, celery, and green peppers.
Swipe left: Grapes, potatoes, and sage.
Swipe right: Beetroot, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, and maize.
Swipe left: Dill, fennel, and all members of the onion family.
Swipe right: Beans, broccoli, cabbage, leeks, and tomatoes.
Swipe left: Nothing, this one’s easy.
Swipe right: Beetroot, celery, chives, dill, and onions.
Swipe left: Mustard plants, strawberries, tomatoes, and grapes.
With Mother Nature in your corner, a couple of flowers in your hair, and fragrant herbs by your side, companion planting is made simple and super effective. Avoid harsh chemicals and keep your garden’s eco-system flourishing and beneficial to the entire food chain. Reinventing the veggie patch is easy when you choose the best friends for your farming-fam goals. Remember, dear green fingers, Life is a Garden, so create yours with consideration.
Nurture your darling garden this month of love by sowing delicious edibles and magnificent flowers. Remember to give your roses some TLC and maintain your existing crops for an abundant harvest. Life is a Garden – here’s what to do with yours this February.
Many summer-flowering annuals start coming to the end of their flowering season and need to be removed. As such, collect ripe seeds from flowers you wish to grow for next season and begin preparing seed and flower beds for autumn planting.
Adorn the indoors with your very own Love Palm (Chamaedorea elegans). They are small, slow-growing palm trees, reaching a full height of approximately 1 meter. Celebrated for their attractive foliage, compact shape and decorative cluster form, Love Palms are ideal indoor beauties that thrive in low to moderate light.
Look out for red spider mites which are problematic in periods of drought and very hot weather. Use the correct insecticides to control these pests on plants such as fruit trees, roses, and shrubs. Red spider mites can also destroy annuals like tomatoes if too heavily infested. Visit your GCA Garden Centre for the best defence against these pesky critters.
There’s always something to do in the garden and always a plant child in need of a little TLC. Caring for your crop offers delicious rewards while tending to blooms provides an ongoing stream of colourful delights. Enjoy your February missions, dear gardeners!