A new practical guide to the Invasive Plants of Portugal has been published
There is still a lot of confusion, ignorance and just downright bad advice flying around about invasive plants but it is a subject well worth investigating, and it is fascinating to see how some plants have taken extravagant advantage of us humans and our urge to try new things from other countries in our gardens!
This month, like March, is a pivotal month for refocusing, this time on winter. The more effort extended now should equal less work later. The idea of autumn planting is to beat the major winter rains so that roots establish over winter while benefiting from soil still warm.
Now is also the time to clear out all the old summer annuals and vegetables, tidy up perennials, and to prune, transplant, divide and mulch.
September is one of the busiest garden months and heralds the switch from summer-blooming flowers to winter and spring ones and from warm-season to cool-season vegetables.
As the weather can still be very hot, start slowly by cutting down faded flowers and vegetables and preparing the ground for the best planting month of the year, October. Continue to water deeply, early in the day or in the evening. Check drought-resistant plants for signs of stress. One deep watering now can tide them, trees and shrubs over until the winter rains and help protect them from disease attack.
Another month to relax and enjoy your garden, although there are some projects the keen gardener can undertake.
As in July, the crucial task is providing sufficient water to plants. The neediest plants are lawns (but not Bermuda or zoysia), vegetables, some annuals and some perennial shade flowers.
Many plants in containers are likely to need water daily.
July is another good month for enjoying the garden rather than for planting owing to the heat. The most important task now through to September is ensuring plants have sufficient water. Except for several native plants and well-established drought-resistant plants, all plants need regular watering.
Water large trees deeply but infrequently to encourage deep roots, but avoid watering almond, olive, carob or fig trees. Allow the soil to dry somewhat between watering as this will allow air to get into the soil and give oxygen to the roots. The best time to water is early in the day.
June is the ideal month to simply enjoy your garden as most of the spring planting should have already been done but the hottest days yet to arrive. With so much in bloom, there should be plenty of colour now but if not you can head for your local garden centre for a quick remedy.
Consider such June-flowering plants as Fushcias, Hydrangeas, Lantana, Jacaranda trees, Agapanthus and Mandevilla.
Fuchsias need regular watering, but don’t let the soil get soggy. Feed often with fertiliser high in nitrogen. Deadhead the seedpods. All fuchsias need partial shade with white and pastel colours requiring a bit more shade than reds and purples.
May is the time to finalise all the spring planting, as the increased heat boosts all plants to really take off. From now until November one key to success is to water deeply but appropriately for each plant.
Of course, the Algarve boasts colour year round, but April has the strongest punch of colour of any month. March was the first spring planting month, but if you did not get it all done, there is time to catch up in April. April can bring heavy rain interspersed with warm sunny days, speeding growth. Pests also benefit from the increased warmth, so one should pay attention to early control to avoid wreaking infestation later.