Bring your gardening passion to the living room with cosy foliage to add warmth and life to your space. Enjoy good conversation and bottomless cups of tea in good, green company.
Plant these fabulous Ficus varieties, ideal for indoor gardening:
Try this: Add your personal style to pot plants by decorating your containers. Try mosaic tiles, crocheted pot covers, textured lace ribbons, or spiralled twine.
Top tips for a healthy Ficus: Ficus plants like consistent but moderate watering with less frequent watering during winter. Regularly check the leaves of your Ficus for pests such as mites and aphids. Visit your local nursery for eco-friendly pest solutions, potting soil, and plant food.
Life is a Garden! But we know that not all backyards can accommodate large trees. Lucky for all the small space and patio gardeners, this month we’re going back to basics with trees in pots! You can still enjoy a number of tree varieties, even some of the edible ones such as juicy citrus and fig trees. Some classics like the olive and holly tree are also perfect potted treasures that you can grow, regardless of how limited your space may be. Here’s some guidance to get you going.
Choosing your container is an important part of your tree-growing journey. Ultimately, you want a pot that’s large enough to fit the root ball of your tree. The size of your container will determine how big your tree will grow and gives you the advantage of being able to manipulate its size. Drainage is super important to factor in as well, so ensure your pot has many holes for excess water to flow out. Trees don’t tolerate water build-up and this will negatively affect their growth, harvest, and flowers.
Top pot tip: Before planting your tree, secure the container above ground if possible, then and add a layer of stones or terracotta shards inside the pot for maximum drainage efficiency. Your GCA Garden Centre has an assortment of large containers to choose from as well as handy advice on how to choose the best pot for the job.
Now that you’ve been upgraded to potted tree-guardian, it’s your duty to maintain the nutrient integrity inside the container. Soil-based potting mix with an annual slow-release organic fertiliser will work wonders. Refresh the soil each spring by removing the top layer and replacing it with a new layer of enriched compost. Remember to mulch the top of your pot to retain moisture as containers dry out much quicker and need to be watered regularly and monitored closely for underwatering.
Top soil tip: Beware of scorching summer days as hot pavements can cause the soil in containers to bake, burning the roots of your tree. Cooldown surfaces and containers during this time with collected rainwater. Also, be aware of extreme winds that can quickly dry out the soil.
Citrus trees are fairly simple to grow when you know what they need. This family of fruit perform their best in warm temperatures with full sun throughout the day. Once you’ve got your pot and soil sorted as above, find the best place for your new tree that will leave some room for it to grow. There are many dwarfed citrus varieties that are well-suited to small spaces, so visit your GCA Garden Centre and see which one spikes your tastebuds. There are over 100 different kinds of citrus including lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, kumquats, satsumas, and tangerines.
Feeding your new fruit tree is easy. Your nursery is stocked with special citrus fertiliser and professional advice on when and how much to feed it. Generally, you can apply small amounts of citrus fertiliser each month from August to May. These glossy-leaved, bright fruit-baring stunners take most of the year to form a harvest, which will be ready for picking by early winter. Citrus bring abundance to the garden with bottomless lemonade, fresh juices, ingredients for smoothies, that extra zing needed in dressings and sauces, and a bold splash of colour to the garden and patio.
Top citrus tip: Keep an eye out for citrus psylla infestations! These sap-suckers cause swelling and little bumps/boils on leaves. These pests carry a major citrus disease called African Greening. Make sure to get a bottle of organic insecticide from your GCA Garden Centre as well as encouraging their natural predators such as ladybugs, bees, wasps and spiders.
Decorative dazzles: Tree of the year - spekboom, Johannesburg gold, dombeya, diascias cotinifolia, indigofera, leopard tree, holly, weeping fig, Cape Jasmin, bay leaf tree, wild olive, and frangipani.
Edible blazers: Olive tree, conifer, and edible fig.
Fruit trees are wonderfully rewarding, for your own family and also for Mother Nature’s children. Many birds, bees and butterflies will benefit from having more trees around and there’s always more than enough harvest to share. Enjoy your small tree journey and all the juicy citrus at your fingertips. Pop down to your nursery and spoil yourself or a loved one with a terrific tree in a pot!
Indoor plants promote good mental health, super Zen vibes, texture, air purification, and something beautiful to appreciate as you go about your day. Life is a Garden, indoors too, and there’s a plant just waiting to bring that side table, desk, and bookshelf to life. Good old potting soil, fertiliser, and a watering routine makes all the difference in maintaining an indoor haven.
Try this: To help you choose the best plant for a room, you can now download an app that measures light intensity – how efficient is that! #nomoreexcuses
Look out for the *BF (beginner-friendly) options for novice gardeners.
1. Button fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)
Light likes: Pellaea enjoy humidity with no direct sun, high to medium light will do.
Soil & water: Let the top layer of soil dry between watering, they don't like soggy.
On the weekends: These plants can be found chilling in a humid bathroom on the windowsill or in a hanging basket. Their dark-green, evergreen, button-like leaves like to explore.
2. Blue star fern (Phlebodium aureum) *BF
Light likes: Medium to high light with no or partial direct sun, they are very adaptable.
Soil & water: Enjoys moist over dry, water well when plants are thirsty.
On the weekends: Their forest-like foliage, with curious wavy blue-green fronds, can be seen fluffing about and grabbing attention everywhere they goes.
3. Bird's nest fern (Asplenium nidus)
Light likes: Medium to bright, no direct sun. These ferns like warmth, humidity, and moisture.
Soil & water: Moist, rich, and loamy does it.
On the weekends: Plants are always cheerful with tropical light green fronds, resembling banana leaves. They are good at limbo, but don’t touch their new fronds while growing.
4. Kumquat tree *BF if you follow the rules
Light likes: Super bright light, even direct sunlight if possible. It enjoys the patio too.
Soil & water: Regular watering with excellent drainage.
On the weekends: This happy-go-lucky beauty can be seen showing off dozens of bright little orange fruits. Plants are good at inspiring new jam and preserves recipes!
5. Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa) *BF+
Light likes: Medium to bright, no direct sun, but they like warm corners.
Soil & water: Good drainage with weekly watering.
On the weekends: You may find them looking for things to climb on with their flamboyant, large and in-charge leaves. Beware, this beaut bites and is toxic to pets.
6. Triostar Stromanthe (Stromanthe sanguinea)
Light likes: Near a window with plenty of natural light, no sun. Rotate your pot weekly.
Soil & water: Well-drained, fertile soil that is kept moist but not soggy.
On the weekends: These plants are the pretty, popular type with impressive, vibrant pink foliage that’ll make you blush. Triostar’s gonna’ make you work for it though, be prepared.
7. Dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) *BF+
Light likes: The brighter the better, but they are adaptable.
Soil & water: Good drainage and regular watering.
On the weekends: Plants are rugged and attractive with striking green, sword-like, red-edged leaves that stand at attention. Your friends may be jealous of your plant's good looks.
8. Flaming sword (Vriesea splendens)
Light likes: They enjoy some morning sun with high light throughout the day.
Soil & water: Add some orchid mix to your soil, infrequent watering but not all the way dry.
On the weekends: They can be seen proudly parading their yellow-orange blooms that look like fun swords. Sadly, they do decline after blooming but they’ll leave you with offsets first.
9. Cymbidium orchid (Cymbidium spp.)
Light likes: Partial gentle sun and good light is their kind of vibe.
Soil & water: Loamy, moist, well-drained soil.
On the weekends: Their stunning sprays of large blooms are a sight to behold! Appreciate it while you can, it’ll be a while before you see their flowers again.
10. Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens) *BF
Light likes: Plants enjoy sunlight and warmth.
Soil & water: Avoid soggy soil but water them moderately.
On the weekends: These often golden-trunked, bamboo-looking darlings can be seen growing tall at their own pace, taking time to extend all their friendly fronds.
To help keep your indoor plants looking their best and breathing well, use a damp cloth to clean their leaves from any dust. Remember to checkout which lovelies are ready to plant now, or plan ahead for the right season and home your dream indoor gem. A spray bottle is also super handy to have around for quick watering touch-ups. See what’s potting at your GCA Garden Centre and have fun perfecting the art of indoor gardening!
Gone are the days when shady means barren! This month, Life is a Garden is shedding light on darker spaces with a little shade-spiration to bring all areas of the garden to life. There are many flower varieties, shrubs, creepers, and even veggies that will flourish in every type of shade. Let’s begin by understanding the different degrees of shade and how these conditions affect the surrounding soil and plants that can grow there.
An area that receives no direct sunlight at all is called full shade, known also as deep shade. Underneath a canopy of large evergreen trees or next to tall buildings or high walls is where you’ll typically find full shade and often barren spaces. The soil in such areas can be classified into these two groups below:
In these deep shade areas, moisture drainage is poor and the soil appears constantly soggy, boggy, and swampy. Try adding coarse compost mixed with gritty river sand to improve the drainage and quality of the soil in these areas.
Plant picks: Hen and chickens (Chlorophytum comosum), holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum), and forest bell bush(Mackaya bella).
Some areas with full shade have dry soil owing to the growth of the trees that once allowed some sunlight in, but have now grown to completely block out direct sunlight. Enrich these areas by loosening the soil, adding nutritious compost, and covering with mulch to assist in retaining moisture.
Plant picks: Bush lily (Clivia miniata), agapanthus, and wild iris (Dietes grandiflora).
Also known as filtered shade, this happens as sunlight filters through openings in tree branches throughout the day, shifting the pattern of sunlight trickling in. In these areas, it’s best to plant in accordance with the trees natural growth and shedding phases. In other words, choose plants that flower during the leafless stages of surrounding trees.
Plant picks: Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils (Narcissus), Lachenalia bulbifera, and freesias.
*Seasonal tip: Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to discover gorgeous shady babies for cool-season planting and sowing. Checkout what seed trays are available to jumpstart your growing adventure. Keep some new arrivals in their pots to assess how they fair in your chosen area before transplanting.
This refers to an area that receives some sun and some shade throughout the day, as shadows are cast on different parts of the garden. Semi-shade plants tend to do better with morning sun, rather than harsh midday or afternoon sun that may scorch leaves. Keep these areas healthy with good compost and generous mulching to retain soil moisture.
Plant picks: Fuchsia, evergreen azalea (Rhododendron indicum), rhubarb, chives, celery, and even carrots.
There is a plant for every shady part of the garden and even some veggies and herbs that can tolerate semi-shade. Remember to visit your GCA Garden Centre to inquire about different shrubs, ferns, and flowers to best suit the area you would like to see flourish. Garden Centre experts are also able to advise which edibles will work well in your desired space. Life is a Garden, even in the shade, so let’s get every bed and pot shining in the absence of sunlight. A gardener maak ‘n plan, or something like that!
Welcome, novice farmers! We are delighted to see your green fingers in bloom, exploring the world of homegrown goodness. Experience for yourself what all the hype is about by starting your own little veggie garden or edible pot. There is something truly special about fresh greens from the Earth – their incredible flavour loaded with nutrients, the direct connection with Mother Nature, and the unbeatable sense of pride from harvesting the fruits of your labour. Find out how to start your own edible journey below.
For your first growing quest, we recommend starting small. Think about whether you would like to use containers, plant straight into the ground, or if you would like to make raised beds. Consider your space and available time to guide your growing style. Sowing a couple of seeds in an empty space in your flower bed is as good a beginning as any.
With the idea of starting small in mind, where you choose to grow is an equally important factor to consider. Veggies love the sun and will flourish in open areas that receive as much sunlight as possible with no big trees throwing shade on your new babies. Examine your space through eco-eyes: take note of the sun’s movement, surrounding foliage, and expansion space needed as your greens grow.
Your first go-to is Google where you can access all the LIAG articles on what to sow and when. Seasonal veggies (meaning the ones to plant for that season) are your best bets for success as these greens are naturally adapted to the climate of the given time. Also, consider how the plant grows – some grow like ground covers (pumpkin) and need plenty of space, while others like to climb (beans) requiring support structures, some veggies also need deeper soil (potatoes) and appear more bush-like on the top.
There’s always time and space, even for a single vegetable to be sown. Pick your favourite and plant it, it’s that simple, and the reward is marvellous! Gain a deeper appreciation for the food you eat by watching it grow and observing all the different phases of the life of a veggie – now that’s nature’s magic at its best!