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.
The Mediterranean Gardening Association in Portugal extends a warm invitation to those readers who wish to attend the International Spring Conference weekend in Lagos on April 22nd to 25th.
The aim for this 5th annual conference is to reveal the practical and aesthetic benefits of making beautiful and sustainable gardens with plants of the Mediterranean and dry zone flora worldwide.
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.
This month is a good time to plant most summer annuals and perennials, lawns from seeds, many vegetables, and most trees, shrubs, ground covers and vines. For tropical plants, however, it is better to wait until April or May as they will take off better when warmer.
After all the work required in January, it is nice to realise that February is more a time of waiting and patience. Some pruning can be done now, but wait for warmer weather before cutting back any frost-damaged branches.