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Gardening with Jill

Hello and welcome to Gardening, which I believe delights the senses, cheers the spirit and gives a gentle feeling of well-being. With all that is happening at the moment and not being able to travel let’s take a tour of Paradise – in your garden.


Although referred to as Geraniums, botanically, they are known as the genus of pelargoniums, originating from South Africa. The name Pelargonium comes from the Greek word meaning stork, and refers to the appearance of the seed capsule. There are many new and exciting varieties of geraniums to tantalise the gardener.

The plants we grow in our gardens and pots are known to most people as geraniums, the most common, the Zonals, being the ordinary shrubby geranium. They like our sub-tropical climate and make great pot plants. If planting in the garden they enjoy some Blood and Bone (with potash), but if you use the original blood and bone, you will have to use some Sulphate of Potash. Once established they should be feed every 3 weeks with a slow-release fertilizer during the flowering season. If growing in a pot, liquid feed with Flourish or Thrive Flower and Fruit every 3 weeks during the flowering season.

The next variety of Geranium is the Ivies. These are very versatile plants growing in containers, hanging baskets, or as a ground cover and given a trellis they will happily climb.

Geraniums need a full sun position meaning at least six hours sun a day. They need good drainage and like their soil to dry out between watering. Cut back hard after flowering finishes at the end of Summer. A general rule of pruning is to cut any plant back by at least one-third after they finish flowering. This can be done to Geraniums to stop them becoming leggy, usually around March.

Like most plants, Geraniums are subject to disease attack. Rust can be a problem but a good fungicide will correct this, and stop the Geranium from defoliating. The dreaded caterpillar and grasshopper also enjoy a feed. Dipel works well on the caterpillars, you can use Neem Oil regularly and also Yates have an insecticidal soap. Remember to spray the underside of the leaves as that is always a good hiding place. A good pair of sharp secateurs always discourages grasshoppers.


Going back to the 1700s, Fuchsias enjoy good light and protection from the hot sun and wind. A cool shaded area is more to their liking with plenty of air; if not they will defoliate from the bottom and drop their flowers. They do best in pots or baskets but if you decide to plant them in the garden, they prefer an acidic soil with good drainage. Using some Azalea and Camellia Planting Mix or Cow Manure, Peat Moss and Coarse Sand dug through the garden before planting will keep them happy

Being a lone wolf, they prefer to be the individual in the garden and don’t enjoy other plants planted around their base. They do like plenty of water but don’t make the ground soggy. Give them an overhead water every now and again. They enjoy this as it helps keep the insects away and raises the humidity. Fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer in August and March.


Hibiscus like an open sunny position in the garden. Full sun is essential to achieve full blooming, but they will grow in in part shade. Hibiscus do not like to compete with the roots of other large plants, so if you have large shrubs the bed should be built up. Compost to ensure good growth and adequate drainage.

The soil pH should be in the 6.5 range. Hibiscus prefer well drained open soil enriched with organic matter like animal manure, leaf mulch and compost. They need lots of water which will ensure plenty of blooms. The soil must be well drained so it does not become waterlogged.

Hibiscus may be planted all year round. Before planting give thought to the gap you will need to leave between plants, i.e. minimum distance apart should be at least one to one and half metres. The smaller varieties of Hibiscus may be grown in large pots. A good potting mix like the Searles Platinum with longer lasting slow-release fertilizer is a better option, as the hibiscus will need repotting every two years which will bring new vigour to your Hibiscus plant. You will need to fertilize regularly and keep moist to ensure bud retention.

The best month to prune your Hibiscus is September, which is also when you can give it some Lime. Use rule of thumb method and cut back by one-third, back to thick stems rather than thin ones. Remove any dead branches and if crowded thin out the centre of the bush. The plant will not cope with excessive water at this time, as most of the leaf growth would have been removed, but the new leaf growth will appear quickly. Apply cow manure, compost and mushroom compost.

Hibiscus enemies are caterpillars, hibiscus beetles, grasshoppers, mealy bug and nematodes. Bud worm will cause bud drop. Yellowing leaves indicate lack of moisture, but yellowing leaves with bits of green means nutrient deficiency. Fungal problems occur in winter when the leaves are too moist so no watering of the leaves late in the day. If you do have a problem with an insect pest or a fungal disease your local nursery will have a solution to your problem.

Until next time,

Happy Gardening


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