The Underground Internet

We’ve been so spoiled with rain this summer and there’s certainly been no shortage of lush greenery in the garden. March has its own almost-autumn adventures in store with intelligent ornamental grasses leading the pack. It’s time to unearth the internet underground, prep cool-season herbs, and keep an eye out for some pesky bugs. 

 

Networking, smart grass 

Plants have a secret language underground that allows them to ‘talk’ to each other. Communities of plants network amongst themselves to transfer information about the environment, share nutrients, and even provide help to other plants in distress. This underground internet is an essential part of all forests and flourishing landscapes everywhere. 

Instead of growing plants alone, rather go for a community of intelligent ornamental grasses that will adapt and multiply, filling up barren spaces and creating the ultimate abundant look. 

Try these fantastic fountain grass varieties:

  • Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’, ‘Rubrum’ and ‘Vertigo’
  • Pink muhly grass 
  • Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ (Zebra grass) 
  • Carex ‘Frosted Curls’
  • Coman’s ‘Khaki’
  • Festuca ‘Silver Eye catch’ 
  • Indigenous restios like Elegia tectorum (Cape thatching reed)

Top tip: Collect seeds from flowering grass to keep as birdfeed for our beloved hungry winter visitors. 

Did you know? Mycelium is the multicellular vegetative body of fungi. Think of it as an underground root system that super-charges the sharing of information and nutrients to the entire plant network. Mycelium grows outwards, looking for water, nitrogen, carbon, potassium (and more), which is then transported back to plants around the garden. Incorporating some super mycelium into your landscape is easy. Edible, non-toxic mushroom grow kits are available at GCA Garden Centres with simple instructions and access to all resources needed. 

Pink muhly grass
Carex ‘Frosted Curls’

Uncapped Earth Wi-Fi

Maximise your plant network with these fuss-free, friendly perennials: 

  • Long-flowering - acanthus, campanula, centranthus, diascia, gaura, Japanese anemone, kangaroo paw, nepeta, rudbeckia and echinacea.
  • Drought resistant - armeria, artemisia, bergenia, felicia, eryngium, salvia and penstemon.
  • Evergreen - ajuga, dierama, hellebore, heuchera, kniphofia, liriope and ophiopogon.
  • Windy and coastal gardens - indigenous forget-me-not, geranium, stachys, limonium, lychnis, pelargonium, agapanthus, centaurea, crocosmia, dietes, and salvias.

In the almost-autumn grow zone

Bedding besties  

March is too early for traditional winter annuals but the perfect time to plant hardy and adaptable verbenas, lobelias, alyssums, dianthus and petunias.

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One-pot wonders 

Go for large containers filled with fruit trees such as calamondin orange, lemon, lime, and kumquat that will all produce a juicy harvest throughout winter. Finish off your potted fruit tree orchard with decorative companion plants like curled parsley, nasturtiums, and dwarf marigolds.

Cool-season herbs 

Chives, garlic and coriander grow in sun or partial shade and do well in potted kitchen gardens with plenty of light. Calendula is a healing herb with pretty, edible flowers to be grown in full sun. Rocket enjoys a sunny windowsill and is rich in iron, chlorophyll and various vitamins.

Bug watch

  • Italian cypress aphid: start treating conifers against this pest with a systemic insecticide as a spray or soil drench.
  • Ants: spray with contact insecticide for up to 3 months’ protection or apply granular ant bait to eradicate the nest.
  • Termites: apply a systemic insecticide to control wood-destroying termites or use a granular bait for harvester termites.
fall gardening, garden design, Garden maintenance, gardening, gardening advice, gardening for beginners, gardening guide, gardening ideas, gardening techniques, Gardening Tips, plant care, Seasonal Gardening, seasonal plants, spring gardening, summer gardening, winter gardening
fall gardening, garden design, Garden maintenance, gardening, gardening advice, gardening for beginners, gardening guide, gardening ideas, gardening techniques, Gardening Tips, plant care, Seasonal Gardening, seasonal plants, spring gardening, summer gardening, winter gardening

March maintenance 

Rose care

Build healthy leaves by fertilising with a rose specific fertiliser this month. With plenty of leaves, the process of photosynthesis remains in full swing, strengthening plant stems for fast spring sprouting and winter flowering. 

Soil replenishment 

Dig up spent veggies and sow green manure crops to naturally replenish and fertilise the soil. Green manure crops are used in agriculture to improve soil structure and increase fertility for the next round of summer crops. Plant mustard, buckwheat, clover, linseed, lupines, lucerne and borage. 

Bed prep 

Begin preparing beds, hanging baskets and containers for strawberries by digging in well-rotted kraal manure, compost, a dusting of Flowers of Sulphur (for acidity), and general fertiliser. 

March is truly a marvellous month in the garden and promises many treats before autumn sets in. Enjoy planting your plant communities and have fun decorating with smart ornamental grasses. Life is a Garden, so make yours come alive!

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