Posts Tagged ‘ plant ’

Orchid Festival

Posted on: July 30th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi

Father’s Day Pot Platter Table Pot Platter - DIY

Posted on: May 17th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi No Comments

Father’s Day DIY: Table Pot Platter 


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 

  1. Three smaller pots
  2. One large round saucer   
  3. A hardy indoor plant (suggestions below) 
  4. Pebbles, bark shards, or wood chips
  5. Dad’s favourite snacks and drink



Fathers Day, Fun In The Garden, Love, Life Is A Garden, Colour, Biltong, DIY, Flower, Plant, Succulent, Garden, Greenery, Kids, Pot, Family

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.

Fathers Day, Fun In The Garden, Love, Life Is A Garden, Colour, Biltong, DIY, Flower, Plant, Succulent, Garden, Greenery, Kids, Pot, Family
Fathers Day, Fun In The Garden, Love, Life Is A Garden, Colour, Biltong, DIY, Flower, Plant, Succulent, Garden, Greenery, Kids, Pot, Family

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. 

Fathers Day, Fun In The Garden, Love, Life Is A Garden, Colour, Biltong, DIY, Flower, Plant, Succulent, Garden, Greenery, Kids, Pot, Family
Fathers Day, Fun In The Garden, Love, Life Is A Garden, Colour, Biltong, DIY, Flower, Plant, Succulent, Garden, Greenery, Kids, Pot, Family

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!

Fathers Day, Fun In The Garden, Love, Life Is A Garden, Colour, Biltong, DIY, Flower, Plant, Succulent, Garden, Greenery, Kids, Pot, Family
Fathers Day, Fun In The Garden, Love, Life Is A Garden, Colour, Biltong, DIY, Flower, Plant, Succulent, Garden, Greenery, Kids, Pot, Family
Fathers Day, Fun In The Garden, Love, Life Is A Garden, Colour, Biltong, DIY, Flower, Plant, Succulent, Garden, Greenery, Kids, Pot, Family
Fathers Day, Fun In The Garden, Love, Life Is A Garden, Colour, Biltong, DIY, Flower, Plant, Succulent, Garden, Greenery, Kids, Pot, Family

For more fun DIY projects, click here. 

Plant Moms Botanical Boss

Posted on: April 26th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi No Comments
life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

Plant Mom Addition 

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.

life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

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. 

  1. Moth orchid

Tantrums about: could be anything but especially overwatering.  

Bribe it with: patience, loose bark potting mix, indirect sunlight, humidity, scheduled watering. 

  1. Maidenhair fern

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. 

  1. Calathea

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). 

life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

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. 

  1. Snake plant 

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. 


  1. Spider plant 

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.

  1. Pothos (Epipremnum)

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. 


Indoor growing guide

Regardless of what you are planning to grow, here are our top tips for successfully raising your bundles of joy indoors. 

  • Adoption: purchase plants and seedlings from our quality approved GCA Garden Centres, ensuring that your new greens have already been given the best head start in life. 
  • Containers: always choose a container with many drainage holes, and don’t forget the saucer! Purchasing a small watering can with a long spout is also a great idea. 
  • Repotting: potted plants will eventually outgrow their containers. You’ll know it’s time to repot them when there is more root than soil left inside the pot. Upgrade your pot size and replenish the soil with fresh potting mix and a splash of fertiliser. Ask your garden centre assistant for help on which plant food and soil mix to use for your particular plant. 
  • Journaling: to help organise feeding, watering and pruning times, begin a diary for your indoor plants where you can schedule your playdates properly. A journal will also help future babysitters and prevent them from accidentally doing damage to your hard work while you are away. 
  • Maintenance: to keep your plant children looking and performing their best, use a damp cloth to remove any dust from the leaves. Dust prevents plants from absorbing adequate light and clogs their stomata – the holes which they need to breathe. In addition, deadheading spent blooms will encourage more flower power while pruning promotes lush regrowth. 


The benefits of plant babies 

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, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

Biodiversity – All things that Fly and Crawl

Posted on: April 26th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi No Comments
Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden

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!

Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden

Bring in biodiversity by

  • Planting for pollinators: Attract bees, butterflies, birds, and eco-barometers like frogs and lizards by planting salvia, borage, lavender, and antirrhinum.
    • Companion planting: Get your edibles elated, your flowers flourishing and seeds spreading by adding pentas, echinacea, marigolds and sunflowers to the veggie patch. 
    • Organic pest-control: Naturally repel a variety of pests by planting basil (for flies), citronella grass and rosemary (for mozzies), as well as chrysanthemum (for spider mites).
    • Helpful predators: Avoiding pesticides attract natural predators such as ladybugs, spiders, dragonflies and praying mantises who make quick work of mealybugs, aphids, scale, and more.
    • Wonderful water: Give your garden critters a drink with water features and birdbaths. Enjoy watching all your favourite friends come to visit. 
    • House wildlife: Install bird, bat, bee, and owl houses around your garden for fewer rodents, mozzies, and locusts. Become a beekeeper and harvest your own honey too! 
    • Indulge in indigenous: Clivias, vygies, African lily (Agapanthus spp.), crane flowers and salvias attract colourful indigenous flyers for your viewing pleasure. 
  • Evade the invasive: Remove invasive plant species from your garden. Aliens may overconsume water, negatively transform the land, and hinder our local biodiversity. 

Happy soil = happy plants: Make sure you’ve got good drainage, use compost, mulch up, and fertilise.

Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden
Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden

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. 


Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden
Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden

Poppies and Petunias Balcony Besties

Posted on: April 26th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi No Comments
poppies, petunias, life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

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.

Cute petunias in containers


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.


Perfecting potted poppies 


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.

Trendy Very Peri

Posted on: April 26th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi No Comments
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple

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. 


Eternal purple bliss

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:

  • Newness
  • Mending and healing  
  • Courageous creativity 
  • Imaginative expression 
  • The power of manifestation 

With such passionate connotations connected to this colour, there really is only one thing left to do – GCA Garden Centre here we come! 


trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple

Elated tasty edibles  

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. 

  • Fruit: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, red grapes, figs, plums, and passion fruit. 
  • Veggies: Beetroot, eggplant, red cabbage, purple cauliflower, and sweet potatoes. 


Idyllic indoors for 2022

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:

  • Calatheas, cyclamen, orchids, and rubber tree plant (Ficus elastica).


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. 


trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple

The most brilliant bulbs

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.

  • Plant crocus, hyacinth, allium, tulips, liatris, dahlia, anemone, and agapanthus.


Anything but ordinary annuals 

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. 

  • Plant heliotrope, petunia, poppy, verbena bonariensis, ageratum, nierembergia, verbena, bachelor’s buttons, statice, calibrachoa, torenia, scaevola, morning glory, and sweet peas.


Peaceful (but popping) perennials

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. 

  • Plant clematis, baptisia, lupine, iris, campanula, salvia, asters, phlox, Russian sage, perennial geranium, viola, lavender, aconitum, nepeta, delphinium, aquilegia, echinops, platycodon, and pulsatilla.


Remember that

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.  


trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple

Show-stopper shrubs

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! 

  • Plant buddleia, lilac, wisteria, hydrangea, vitex, ceanothus, azalea, rhododendron, and Texas sage., and rose of Sharon.


Cool-season annuals to inspire you NOW  

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. 

  • Alyssum 
  • Vygies
  • Pansies and violas 
  • Petunias 
  • Primulas
  • Antirrhinum (snapdragons)
  • Delphinum (larkspur) 
  • Phlox
  • Lobelia 
  • Dianthus


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! 

trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
vERY peri
Life is a Garden

Tiptop Topiary

Posted on: March 29th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi No Comments
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. 

Topiary colours April garden gardening plants shrubs flowers sow trim
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.  

Tiptop Topiary
Tiptop Topiary
Tiptop Topiary
Tiptop Topiary

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!  

Paul Vonk – do’s and Don’t of sowing flower and grass seed

Posted on: March 26th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi
Failure with seeds – we’ve all experienced it. Paul Vonk of Mayford Seeds speaks about common errors when planting veggie, herb, flower and lawn seeds.
He also chats about combination planting and combining flower bulbs and flower seeds.

Ask And Learn Workshop on Medicinal Mushrooms At HomeGrowers.

Posted on: March 19th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi
Back by popular demand.
Join us this Saturday afternoon to learn all about Medicinal Mushrooms and their countless healing properties.
Studies have shown increased successes in the fight against many debilitating diseases.
We will cover the types mushrooms, their origins and application.
Examples of these Mushrooms are:
1. Lions mane
2. Reishi
3. Cordyceps
4. Shitake
5. Turkey tail
These Mushrooms are available for purchase in a dehydrated state as well as Mushroom Grow kits.
Included in this workshop will be some of the associated health benefits of including these super foods in your diet, the roles they can play in your garden, and the essential ecological niche they fill in our own backyard ecosystems.
Contact Edna: 061 103 7121

April in the garden Everything is awesome in April

Posted on: February 28th, 2022 by Cassidy No Comments
April Checklist Gardening Greenery Flowers Plants Colour Health

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.  

Awesome flowers to plant 
  • Towards the end of April is the perfect time to plant striking indigenous bulbs like watsonia, freesia, ixia, chincherinchee and Sparaxis. For non-indigenous bulbs, try daffodils, irises, tulips, and hyacinths.
  • For colour and charm, go for primula, poppy, pansy and gazania seedlings, as well as perennials such as lupins, Shasta daisies, and aquilegias. 

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.

Cold Winter Autumn Hyacinths season garden gardening coulour plant flower life is a garden
chincherinchee flowers plants garden autumn april greenery
Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden

Awesome plants to sow 

  • Flowers that can still be sown are osteospermum, mesembryanthemums, winter scatter packs and the indigenous scatter pack mix. Individual varieties include Virginian stocks, calendula, and Felicia.
  • Veggies to be sown now include peas, parsnips, carrots, onion Texas Grano (short day variety), beetroot Bulls Blood, and broccoli.
  • For a winter production of healthy herbs, start sowing seeds in windowsill containers. High light is all that’s needed for a good crop with a reasonable indoor temperature. 

Top tip: Guard against leaving containers on windowsills overnight as cold glass may harm plants.

Awesome to spray 

  • Aphids will still be around this time of the year, although their numbers will be less than in spring. Give your flowers a close inspection and if there are still a few around control with Plant Protector.
    • Snails and slugs devastate leaves on plants and ruin their appearance. Snailban and Snailflo are just two of the products which you can purchase from your GCA Garden Centre as a solution. 
  • Scale is a sap-sucking insect that can cause severe damage to many types of plants in the garden. They can be eradicated by spraying with Malasol or Oleum in the cooler months.
  • Autumn is the peak season for leaf miners, causing twisting and curling on new leaves. Control with regular applications of Eco Insect Control SC.

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.

mesembryanthemums garden greenery beautiful bright colours life is a garden
Garden Colour Plants Flowers Greenery Gardening Soil Autumn April Easter

Awesome feeding 

  • Feed your winter-flowering plants such as hellebores to encourage a dramatic winter show later in the season when little else is brave enough to flower.
  • When cyclamen buds start to appear on last year’s plants, start feeding them every second week.
  • Add fertiliser to aloes and flowering succulents now.
  • Help your lawn along by feeding with 2.3.2
  • Give sweet peas a boost with liquid fertiliser and train them up onto a net or lattice.
  • Feed citrus trees with a general fertiliser and a handful of Epsom salts per tree.


broccoli food greenery health garden autumn gardening life is a garden environmental
April Gardening Food Veggies Cold Easter Garden Green Greenery Plants Flowers

Awesome maintenance 

  • In frost-prone areas, remember to grab some protection from your GCA Garden Centre and be ready to cover up before you’re caught off guard. 
  • Mulch up to the max with living groundcovers and plant materials.
  • Containers are ready for a new layer of potting soil. Remove about one third from the top and replace it with the new soil.
  • Any container plants that need repotting can also be done now. Help them adapt with a liquid fertiliser after transplanting. 


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.

Hellebores garden food flowers beauty colour autumn growth life is a garden plants greenery green environment
Cyclamen Buds Flowers Environment Health Green Greenery Plants Garden Autumn April Soil Colour

Style your Bougie Get the best from your bougainvillea

Posted on: January 10th, 2022 by Cassidy No Comments

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. 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. 


Bougainvillea creeper
Bougainvillea creeper
Containers and indoors

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.

Bougainvillea bonsai
Feeding, frost, and pests 

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.


A hot and handsome February February Checklist

Posted on: January 10th, 2022 by Cassidy No Comments

The heat is on this Feb and that means three things for the summer gardener:

  1. Mulch-up to the max
  2. Smart water-wise gardening 
  3. Exciting heat-loving plants to grow 

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


Sexy veggies 

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.

Flirtatious flowers

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.


Water-wise tips for the lawn
  • Raise the height of your mower blades to about 5cm. Longer grass helps to shade the soil and keep the roots cool. 
  • Water in the evening so that your lawn can benefit from all the water without competing with evaporation, UV rays or wind. 
  • Water deeply (about 15 minutes per sprinkler setting) twice a week rather than watering for frequent  shorter periods. Deep watering encourages the development of strong, healthy roots.

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.  


Smart spraying and feeding 
  • Check for red spiders on roses, usually found on the underside of the leaf. Your nursery attendant will be able to recommend the right product for the job. Remember to take photos of pests to assist in the correct identification and control solution. 
  • Feed containers and hanging baskets fortnightly with a lekker liquid fertiliser available from your GCA Garden Centre. 


Blazing terracotta pots

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.



Eco-warrior: The brave Braconid Wasp

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 January Checklist

Posted on: December 7th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

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.


Sow a salad

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:

  • Lettuce
  • Rocket
  • Spinach and Swiss Chard
  • Beetroot (baby leaves are delish)
  • Kale


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.

Swiss chard
Plant a paradise

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.

  • Salvias flower throughout summer and autumn. Their upward-pointing sword-like blooms range from fire engine red to purple, deep blue and other powdery colour variations. They are waterwise and easy to grow in pots too.
  • Snapdragons offer striking colours and multiple blooms that stand to attention and are simply charming. Dwarf varieties are great as pot or hanging basket fillers. Keep plants moist while young and they’ll reward you by continuing to flower into winter.
  • Petunias don’t need special treatment or a lot of water either. Flowering increases as they grow, putting on a spectacular show of colour when mature. Petunias love the mild winter months too and will carry on growing in this time.
Plant Salvias
Plant Snapdragons
Plant Petunias
Plant petunia night sky
Indoor peace parade
  • The peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallesii) can grow in low-light conditions, which effectively means that it can thrive almost anywhere in the home. It has large, glossy green leaves, is very forgiving when not pampered, and has large, flag-like white blooms that brighten any room with an air of sophistication.
  • The peace in the home plant (Soleirolia) requires bright light and regular watering. They can be combined with other plants in a mixed bowl, will be happy in a terrarium, or simply simply thrive in a pot on their own.
Spathiphyllum Peace lily
Peace in the home
Pest alert!

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.


Power up plants

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.


Pruning and rose care
  • A light summer pruning is recommended for roses in January. We know that it feels difficult to prune a plant that may still be flowering but it will help to extend quality flowering into winter. Cut back stems by up to one-third of their length.
  • Continue using a cocktail rose spray i.e. a combination of a fungicide and insecticide every two weeks to avoid leaf drop. Fertilise monthly and add mulch or top up the existing mulch. Now all that is left to do is to continue deep watering and enjoy your blooming success over the coming months.


Shaping up

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.

Lawn Caterpillar Army worm
Inland gardening maintenance
  • Mulch to beat the heat, to save water, and to give the plants a cooler root run. A good, thick layer around the plants will do wonders for them.
  • Keep a lookout for fungus diseases encouraged by several rainy days in a row. Take samples of leaves from any affected plants (in a zip-lock bag) to your local GCA Garden Centre and get a remedy to spray with.
  • The rainy season is upon us. Try to harvest as much rainwater as possible and even consider joining a pipe from a roof gutter outlet into the pool when it requires a top-up.


Coastal gardening maintenance
  • Plant more chives, oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage, and coriander. Remember to plant your first crop of potato seeds for an early winter harvest.
  • Remove or prune back low branches of trees if more sunlight is required for lawn or bedding plants below trees.


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!

October Outdoor Eco-Celebration October Checklist

Posted on: September 22nd, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

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!


Raging for roses

Your top 5 babes available at GCA’s now are:

  • Double Delight: Pointed, cream colour buds unfolding delicately into shades of scarlet.
  • Just Joey: A hybrid apricot/orange blend tea rose with a seductively sweet scent.
  • My Granny: A spreading shrub with full rosette blooms in shades of soft pink and white.
  • South Africa: SA’s top performer with huge clusters of large, golden-yellow double blooms.
  • Zulu Royal: Large, symmetrical blooms in deep mauve with a silver-lilac dust.

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.

Double Delight
Just Joey
My Granny
South Africa
Royal Zulu
Rushing flower power

Plant and sow now

  • For instant colour, go for calibrachoas with masses of miniature petunia-like flowers.
  • Sun-loving annuals in seedling trays include: petunias, lobularias (allysum), gazanias, penstemons, Chrysanthemum paludosum and C. multicaule, Sunpatiens and celosias.
  • Shade-seeking seedling trays include: New Guinea impatiens, begonias, impatiens (Busy Lizzie) hypoestes and coleus.
  • Go-getter perennials for all regions are: agapanthus, gauras, nemesias, osteospermums and geraniums of all kinds. Also go for gypsophila and masses of pretty but tough angelonias. Star jasmine, penstemons, columbines and echinaceas are lovely too.


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.

Chrysanthemum paludosum
New Guinea impatiens

Bustling hunger busters

  • Carrots: Sow seeds directly from spring to autumn to ensure a continuous harvest. The soil must be cultivated deeply to make it loose and friable.
  • Cucumbers: Sow seeds directly into rich soil. Plants will need sturdy stakes to keep the fruit off the ground.
  • Green beans: Plant bush-type seeds that are easier to manage if your space is limited.
  • Lettuce: Try oak and loose-leaf lettuce seedlings, available in trays from your GCA Garden Centre.
  • Radishes: Sow small amounts directly into the ground throughout summer.
  • Squashes and baby marrows:As soon as new greens emerge, thin them out to allow ample space for trailing support.
  • Tomatoes and sweet peppersare also available in seedling trays now. Pinch off lower leaves when planting for a bushier, abundant yield.
  • Spinach: Plant or sow several rows every few weeks to ensure a continuous supply.
  • Herbs: Parsley, chives and basil seeds and seedlings can be planted/sown in the veggie patch or in pots for your kitchen garden or sunny windowsills.

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.

Baby Marrow
Sweet Peppers
Board the maintenance train
  • Lawns: Fix hollows and bumps by cutting out the turf in the affected area. Add or reduce soil as needed and gently replace the turf. In shady areas with barren patches, check out our handy article that’ll help you choose the perfect grass for the job: (link to shade grass article) Spray weedkiller to get rid of broadleaf weeds. Before treatment, fertilise your lawn and water well, wait two weeks before applying spray.
  • Weed alert: Weeds compete with healthy crops for space, water, sunlight and nutrients, ultimately reducing your crop yield. They grow quickly and reproduce in large numbers. Seeds are easily dispersed by wind and animals, especially whilst mowing the lawn. Weeds are also hosts for pests and plant diseases, so make sure to visit your GCA for a variety of effective treatments to use.
  • Succulents: Tidy up succulents like echeverias and Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, which have stopped flowering. Divide and replant into other parts of the garden.
  • Fruit trees: Thin out peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums when they are about pea-size. Apply a fertiliser that’s high in nitrogen and potassium to promote plump, luscious fruit. Continue spraying and baiting against fruit flies and codling moths.
  • Pests: Put out snail taps and cutworm bait to protect all new seedlings.
  • Anti-fungal: Encourage strong root systems and combat fungal disease by watering your garden early in the morning, instead of in the evenings.
  • Re-potting: Ferns are ready for new homes! Repot and transplant all ferns now, followed by a feeding every two weeks with a liquid fertiliser mixed at half strength.

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.

Spring Zing September Checklist

Posted on: August 23rd, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments
September Checklist

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! 


‘n Spekkie for thought 

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: 

  • Environment: They help to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by acting like a handy carbon sponge, thereby improving the quality of air we breathe. 
  • Firebreaks: This plant is used in fire-prone areas as a perimeter hedge – good to know! 
  • Food: Spekboom leaves are edible and add interesting texture and flavour to salads. They are high in Vitamin C with a juicy, sour taste – definitely worth a try!  
  • Soil: A good soil binder that helps to prevent soil erosion – wind and slopes beware! 
  • Versatile: With so many varieties available, spekkies are excellent groundcovers, look spectacular in hanging baskets, add a vibe to mixed succulent containers, are super hardy trees, cute bonsais, and are just overall an awesomely easy addition to the garden.  
  • Easy to please: Prune them to shape or let them grow wild, feed them or forget about them, mulch them or munch on them. 

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.

  • Tom Thumb: a small-leaved, compact variety that makes an excellent bonsai.
  • Longstockings: also small-leaved but with a distinctly vertical growth form.
  • Macrophylla: a giant-leaved variety, very sculptural in the garden or in pots. 
  • Also try: Limpopo (most common), Prostrata, Aurea, Foliis variegate, Medio-picta, Variegata, Tricolor, and Cork Bark.
Tom Thumb
Portulacaria afra Prostrata
Portulacaria afra Medih-picta
Portulacaria afra variegata
Fired-up flowers 
  • Plant Alyssum in garden beds or hanging baskets in full to partial sun. They tolerate dry soil and will flourish with frequent deadheading. Alyssum are ideal as attractive edge borders, framing flower beds, as well as adding vibrancy and texture to window boxes. 
  • Also plant clivias, salvias, begonia ‘Dragon Wings’, verbenas, penstemons, camellias and azaleas for a splash of happy spring colour. 
  • Warm-season bulbs like tuberous begonias, dahlias and amaryllis can also be planted now. For summer bedding colour, include masses of petunias, dianthus, gazanias, and Zantedeschia hybrids. 
  • Perennials to plant with your spring collection include columbines, angel wings (Gaura), Limonium perezi (giant statice), Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’ (cornflower), and Viola odorata ‘The Czar’ (sweet violet). 
  • Sow bold sunflowers, zinnias, and portulacas to reap the rewards in a few weeks.

In the bloom prune zone: Mayflowers, banksia roses, hibiscus and poinsettia are ready for a snip. Deadhead pansies and violas now too.

Angel wings
Scabiosa columbaria
Edible spring zingers
  • Plant strawberries, asparagus, tomatoes, chillies, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, cabbage, beetroot, spinach and chard.
  • Sow seeds of tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, beans, beetroot, eggplants, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, mealies, pumpkin, dwarf beans, runner beans, maize and sweetcorn.
  • Trees to plant are olives and almonds, yummy!
  • Herbs to plant include dill, chervil, origanum, borage, mustard, caraway, coriander, mint, Pennyroyal, rosemary, fennel, basil, anise and summer savoury.

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.

Trees for your troubles 

Wildlife-attracting, shade-providing, and spring-blooming trees to plant now are: 

  • Paperbark acacia
  • Fever tree
  • Pom pom tree
  • Forest elder 
  • Cape chestnut
  • Dombeya rotundifolia (wild pear)

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! 


Paperbark acacia
Get your lawn lush 

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. 


Pesky pest alert

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. 

  • Leaf gall on azaleas (small swellings or knobs on the leaves, stems, and flowers).
  • Thrips on gladioli (spottings on flowers and yellow speckled areas on leaves).
  • Citrus psylla on lemons (raised, pocket-like swelling on leaves). 
  • Impatient fungus (yellow-green discolouration of leaves, often curling downwards). 
  • Snails and slugs around newly planted seedlings.
  • Cutworms on the roots and foliage of new growth.


Maintenance incoming 
  • Refresh, top-up or replace pebbles and gravel around the garden, especially between paving stones where dust and mud accumulate to spoil the effect.
  • Check for algae and moss on paving. Scrub down with a solution of copper sulphate or use a moss killer.
Leaf gall
Black Thrips

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.

Kitchen Gardening

Posted on: July 13th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

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. 


Hydroponic planting 

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.


Kitchen composting 

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:  

  • Leafy veggies such as celery and lettuce.
  • Bulbs such as onions and leeks.
  • Root veggies such as beets and ginger. 
  • Fruits such as Key limes and avocados.


Lovely lemons 

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.


Snakes and spiders 

There’s even space in the kitchen garden for gogga-inspired greenery. Try planting these now:

  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum): An easy indoor customer that enjoys occasional watering on the windowsill. These plants are natural air purifiers that will help remove odours, fumes, and pollutants from the environment – very handy to have in the kitchen. Spider Plants are also non-toxic and are in fact edible, making them safe for pets and kids.
  • Snake Plant/Mother in Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria): A good low-light contender that likes to be left alone. These plants are a fab choice for the kitchen as they perform a unique type of sun-less photosynthesis, allowing them to release crisp oxygen all night long. They are highly adaptive to their environment and add an architectonic intrigue to the space. 

May in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

Posted on: April 12th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

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.


Eat like a winter-winner 

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.


Tricks of the cool-season trade

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!



April in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

Posted on: March 9th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

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!


Chillax with flowers
  • Bulba-licious beauties: You can plant all spring-flowering bulbs now, hooray! Bulbs with fingers or claws, like ranunculi, should be planted with their fingers pointing downwards. Try plating small bulbs like anemone, leucojum, muscari, lachenalia, tritonia, and ranunculus, or larger bulbs such as hyacinth, freesia, and Dutch iris.
  • Pretty and pleasing: April is the perfect time to buy and plant out pretty primula, poppy, pansy, and gazania seedlings.
  • Indoor inspiration: Spathiphyllum, known also as Peace lily, is an easy-care, low-light houseplant with majestic, long-lasting white blooms.
Dutch Iris
Spathiphyllum Peace lily
  • Colourful corners: Try planting a corner of ericas, restios, leucadendrons, and Proteas – they provide stunning autumn and winter colour.
  • Balmy blooms: Plant cool-season annuals at the base of bare-stemmed bushes. Choose sun lovers like alyssum, calendulas, dwarf snapdragons, lobelias, Namaqualand daisies, phlox, and pansies.
  • Bedding babe: Available in many bright hues, Cineraria enjoy moist soil in semi-shade beds.
  • Pot of purple: Lavender is waiting to perk up your patio pots with an easy-going purple flush.
Feeding and frost
  • Feed aloes and flowering succulents for a glorious winter show.
  • If you’re living in a frost-prone area, be sure to purchase some frost protection from your GCA Garden Centre before winter arrives in full force.
  • Continue feeding your evergreen cool-season lawn to ensure it remains lush during winter.


In the grow-zone
  • Grow garlic bulbs, which you can purchase from your GCA Garden Centre. Pick a sunny spot with well-drained soil and plant the cloves about 15cm apart in drills of about 7cm deep.
  • Plant a lemon tree now to enjoy summer lemonade on the rocks!
  • Veggies to be sown now include: peas, parsnips, carrots, onion ‘Texas Grano’ (short-day varieties), beetroot ‘Bulls Blood’ (the leaves provide extra vitamins for winter), broad beans, winter cauliflower, and good old broccoli.


Green steam ahead
  • Start sowing herb seeds in windowsill containers. Avoid leaving your babies near glass overnight as the cold chill may affect their growth.
  • Revitalise your veggie beds to boost winter crops and give roots added nutrients. Mix in a hearty dose of compost to your soil with a handful of organic bone meal.
  • Prune back old canes of raspberries and blackberries that have finished fruiting.
  • Feed citrus trees with a general fertiliser and a handful of Epsom salts.
Garlic bulbs
Lemon tree
Sow herb seeds
Prune rasberries

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.

Why your veggies need friends Companion Plants

Posted on: February 16th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Sweet Pea, companion plants

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!


Reinventing the veggie patch

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.


Friends with benefits

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:

  • Natural pest controllers: Plants such as lavender (for fleas), basil (for flies), citronella grass and rosemary (for mozzies), as well as chrysanthemum (for spider mites), repel a variety of insects owing to their essential oil compounds and deterring scent. You can sporadically plant these in and around the veggie garden as long as they are in close range of the greens.
  • Essential pollinators: Your harvest needs the bees and they need us. Create a flower border around your veggie garden and bring in the friendly flyers to pollinate and spread seeds. Try marigolds, alyssum and cool-season vygies, as well as allowing all herbs to come to flower. Remember to include a freshwater source for our helpers with a way to get in and out too.
Citronella Grass
  • Soil structure activists: Champion companion plants also help improve poor soil conditions by adding lacking nutrients. Comfrey (Symphytum) roots break up heavy clay and create channels for aeration and better water absorption, while also releasing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium into the soil. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a valuable compost heap activator, while also stimulating the soil’s nutrient value as leaves fall off and decompose in the veggie patch (it also has pretty white flowers, yay!).
  • Beauty filters: Veggies on-the-grow are already such a lovely sight, as is each one of the above-mentioned budding besties. For super-charged gorgeousness + pollination benefits + insect repellent power, try cosmos, nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus), sunflowers, and sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus). Make space for these beauties in preparation for spring/summer planting.
Sweet pea
Autumn flings

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.

  • Carrots

Swipe right: Basil, chives, lettuce, onions, and peas.

Swipe left: Broccoli, cabbage, dill, fennel, and potatoes.

  • Swiss chard 

Swipe right: Beetroot, beans, cabbage, celery, and green peppers.

Swipe left: Grapes, potatoes, and sage.

  • Beans

Swipe right: Beetroot, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, and maize.

Swipe left: Dill, fennel, and all members of the onion family.

  • Celery

Swipe right: Beans, broccoli, cabbage, leeks, and tomatoes.

Swipe left: Nothing, this one’s easy.

  • Cabbage

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.

Companion Plants
Companion Plants
Companion Plants
Companion Plants

February in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

Posted on: January 14th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
February in the garden check list

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.


Blooms to sow
  • Plant tough annuals such as Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) and Gazania Rigens to fill gaps in beds and provide gorgeous colour for the months ahead.
  • Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) is your best bet for pots with full sun. They boast striking pink, red, cream, or orange blooms that’ll bring any patio to life.
  • Begin sowing these winter and spring-flowering gems that need a bit of time to mature in seedling trays: cinerarias, gazanias, Iceland poppies, primulas, violas, pansies, larkspurs, Canterbury bells, columbines, and aquilegias.
Sow Sweet William
Gazania rigens
Iceland poppies
Planning ahead

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.

Best for indoors

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.

Caring for flowers


  • Keep azaleas and camellias well-watered to ensure a good show of flowers during winter and spring.
  • Keep deadheading your spent blooms to promote faster regrowth with more flowers.
Love Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
 Rose TLC
  • Deadhead and dis-bud your babies.
  • Water well 3 times a week.
  • Fertilise BUT remember that a heap on the surface is not optimal. Fertiliser is only of use when it is dissolved by water and carried to the roots.
  • Spray fortnightly against black spot, beetles and bollworm with organic pest control solutions available at your GCA Garden Centre.


Greens to sow and plant
  • Sow spinach, globe artichokes, chillies, parsley, carrots, radish and rocket.
  • Sow your first round of potato seeds for an early winter harvest.
  • Plant Chinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) if you enjoy Asian-style cooking. This aquatic vegetable forms tufts of bright green with straw-like leaves that spread rapidly.
Spinach, February checklist
Globe Artichoke, February checklist
Chillies, February check list
Rocket, February checklist
Chinese Water chestnut
Tending to the harvest
  • Pinch out tomatoes and surplus squashes to get fewer but bigger vegetables.
  • Remember to keep mulching your beds to suppress weed growth, keep roots cool, and conserve water.
 Garden centre treasures
  • Buy ready-to-plant strawberries, which you can hang in baskets or transplant into containers. Feed and water regularly to enjoy their beauty, even after fruiting.
  • Your local GCA Garden Centre has the latest, fully grown, dwarf veggies that are ready to harvest, even while still in the car’s boot. These varieties include: chillies, cherry tomatoes, and fresh loose-leaf lettuce varieties. Take advantage of these time-saving greens that’ll give you some goodness to eat while waiting for other crops to mature.
Pesky critters


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!

Cherry tomatoes
Loose lettuce leaf
Red spider Mite