Fresh and fab for the new year

Salvia will brighten up your beddings.

Salvia will brighten up your beddings.

Published Jan 23, 2024


Durban — If you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution that supports mental, physical and environmental health, gardening is what you need to get fresh and fab.

January is the perfect time to add finishing touches to holiday projects and a chance to turn over a few lush new leaves.

Indigenous gardens lure the prettiest of nature’s little treasures.

What’s potting: Local lovelies

Growing indigenous plants means less maintenance for you and more diversity for the patio, balcony, and traditional bed garden. Our local lovelies are already well-suited to our climate, meaning they can adapt to sudden weather changes and require less water than exotic plants. Indigenous plants attract essential pollinators like bees and butterflies, as well as friendly predators like ladybugs and lacewings, to help control pests the natural way.

Cape leadwort (plumbago auriculata) is tough, fast growing and a magnet for butterflies.

The popular Cape leadwort (Plumbago auriculata) is a full-sun-loving hedge and filler plant for covering large open spaces. It is an extremely tough, fast-growing rambling, shrub. Plants grow in any soil and are wonderfully drought-tolerant. Plumbago gets covered with trusses of pale blue or white flowers, which are a favourite nectar source for butterflies. The flowers of the cultivar “Royal Cape” are of a considerably deeper blue, so be sure to ask for this variety at your garden centre.

Cape forget-me-not (nchusa capensis) is beautiful and edible.

Another indigenous beauty is the Cape forget-me-not (Anchusa capensis). It has tall stems that rise above the lower growing foliage, showing off clusters of petite blue flowers with a white centre. They also attract butterflies with their nectar-rich flowers as well as other beneficial pollinating insects like bees and wasps. Their pretty flowers are edible and a fab addition to salads or desserts. The leaves are also eaten as a type of spinach by the Sesotho people. Grow them in full sun with good drainage.

Beautiful evergreen coral senecio (kleinia fulgens) is a creepy explorer.

Coral senecio (Kleinia fulgens) is an attractive evergreen, hardy succulent that likes to creep and explore. Plants have fleshy stalkless, grey-green leaves with a purple margin that arise directly from the stem. The clusters of bright orange or scarlet flowers can be enjoyed from January to August. Their bold, long-flowering blooms attract pollinating insects to the garden and will brighten up any rockery or mixed flower container. Plant them in well-drained soil in full sun or light shade.

New life indoors

For generations, philodendrons have been a tried and trusted option for interior gardens because of their no-fuss nature and lush looks. The philodendron genus contains some of the most beautiful foliage plants in the plant kingdom. With origins in the Americas, there are several hundred species of philodendrons. The varieties grown indoors can be broadly classified into two types: climbing and non-climbing varieties.

Philodendron selloum is one of many varieties of philodendrons that offer colour and style form for inside and outside your home.

Plants have glossy, bright green foliage and can grow quite large. The many different varieties offer a wide range of unique colour and style options, making them suitable for all areas of your home. Philodendrons have air-purifying properties too. Several varieties excel as air fresheners, including the heartleaf (philodendron scandens ‘oxycardium’), elephant ear (philodendron domesticum), and selloum (philodendron selloum). Plants have also been found to remove toxic xylene from home and office environments.

Philodendrons are easy-care houseplants that need very little attention. Even inexperienced houseplant owners will have no trouble growing these beauties as they adapt readily to the conditions inside the home. Grow them in a location with bright, indirect sunlight (where the sun’s rays never actually touch the foliage). While it’s normal for older leaves to yellow, if this happens to several leaves at the same time, the plant may be getting too much light. On the other hand, if the stems are long and leggy with several inches between leaves, the plant probably isn’t getting enough light.

Colour of the year: Peach Fuzz

Are your green fingers following the latest trends in the horticultural industry? The Pantone colour of the year for 2024 is Peach Fuzz – a velvety peach hue that evokes feelings of kindness and tenderness. Plant some of these Peach Fuzz-inspired plants to compliment your safe space:

Rose “Just Joey” is filled with joy. Flowers have a subtle play of cream from the petals’ edges, blending into a darker shade of apricot and a copper hue in the deep centre of each bloom. The buds unfold into large copper-apricot, double blooms with frilly edges.

Rose ‘Just Joey’ is full of joy.

Plant these roses in a full sun spot, either in beds or medium to large containers with well-composted soil. It reaches shoulder height and makes for an excellent cut flower.

New Guinea impatiens ‘Clockwork Orange Stripe’ flower throughout summer.

New Guinea impatiens “Clockwork Orange Stripe” flower throughout summer where its bright blooms can be adored in any shady bed or hanging basket. You can also grow them indoors near a well-lit window or on the patio where the harsh sun cannot burn their leaves. Soft peach petals meet in the centre where a dramatic orange stripe steals the show. Take note, these plants are thirsty.

Alstroemeria ‘Princess Ariane’ (Peruvian lily) is a compact, free flowering favourite.

Alstroemeria “Princess Ariane” (Peruvian lily) is a compact, free flowering favourite in the garden owing to their long-lasting, butter-yellow flowers adorned with showy rosy blushes and dark mahogany markings on the inner petals. This lily is an excellent border and container plant, adding contrast, height and colour where planted. They prefer full sun to dappled shade.

Dahlias have happiness written over every bloom’s face.

Dahlia “Dark Dalaya Yuva” has happiness written all over each bloom’s sweet face. This cultivar provides a radiant display of bold, lively yellow flowers to brighten up any bed or container. Grow them in full sun where these heat-lovers can multiply, surprising you with even more stunning bulbs to plant and share with loved ones. Be sure to plant them with tubers pointed down.

Get sowing: lettuce is one of many edibles you can plant now.

Edibles are everything

In January, sow from seed or plant from seedling trays the following delicious edibles: dwarf beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, leeks, radishes, rocket, spinach, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, celery, eggplants, peas, potatoes and pumpkins.

Harvest time for capsicums.

Now is the time to harvest beans, beetroot, capsicums, chillies, courgettes, cucumbers, eggplants, garlic, lettuce, onions and tomatoes. You can also pick nectarines, passion fruit, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, apricots, peaches and plums this month.

Time to harvest your chillies.

Feed lemon trees, water them deeply and frequently, and supply a fresh layer of organic mulch around the stems and up to the drip line. Make a note in your diary to feed them again in April and July. Small citrus trees in pots will enjoy foliar feeding if the foliage is showing signs of deficiencies.

Top tip: Add water-retaining crystals to your soil to help with water retention and overall moisture. Safe to use on edibles, you can purchase crystals from your garden centre to save on water and time.

Friendly predators, like ladybirds, keep mean pests at bay.

Independent on Saturday