Here in the nursery things are moving along very well. As the weather warms and the rains have started it heralds the growing season.
Our volunteers have been busy taking cuttings (from our stock plants in the Sustainability Centre) and putting down seeds (from the grounds and from collections by volunteers at local sites). In fact, the nursery is bursting with very healthy plants at the moment and many more to come.
Groundcover/small shrubs flowering now
For this article I am going to talk about some excellent groundcovers/shrubs that are flowering and ready to plant now.
We have the delightful yellow-flowered Hibbertia vestita which grows as a groundcover or as a small shrub to 30 cm high. It has small dark green glossy leaves that contrast well with the 4cm dia. bright yellow flowers. Although they don’t last long, they are very attractive.
My next recommendation is the plant known as slender rice flower, Pimelea linifolia, that produces white or sometimes pink terminal flowers. The leaves are small, narrow and up to 3 cm long. It is a prostrate shrub that grows in well drained soils in a reasonably protected position.
It is attractive for a plant that is not commonly cultivated. Growing from seed has not proven to be the most successful method. If you don’t get yours from B4C’s nursery be aware that it is readily grown from cuttings (see notes below).
My third recommendation is a plant commonly found in coastal areas but we have it growing well in the grounds of the nursery. It is the Scaeveola calendulacea, commonly known as the scented or beach fan flower.
The flowers are small fan-shaped and mauve with a yellow centre. This is a true groundcover growing to about 20 cm high but spreading readily in full sun conditions. It survives in drier conditions but responds well to good drainage and supplemental watering. The fruits are edible.
The last groundcover is the delightful Viola banksii called native or wild violet. This again is a true groundcover that forms a matting in moist areas where it is shady. It does tolerate some morning sun but must be kept well watered if it is not in partial or full shade.
It produces small prominent white and purple violet-like flowers during warmer months. It grows readily from the runners that spread readily from individual plants.
Tips for cuttings
All the plants mentioned above are grown by cuttings. In case you weren’t aware that is the best way the average gardener can clone a plant and get the same genetic material resulting a copy of the original plant. By contrast, collected seeds can be variable with no guarantee the plant will have the same colour flowers for example. The technique used in the nursery can be readily copied by the home gardener. I’ve outlined some steps below.
- Bucket with about 3 litres of water
- Rooting hormone (we use a commercial product called ESI-ROOT but don’t worry you can use honey as a substitute)
- Cutting board
- Scalpel (not everyone has one so use a sharp clean knife or blade)
- Potting mix and suitable small pots.
From the plant take tip cuttings (100 mm) and plunge into the bucket as soon as you have taken the cutting. If taking a large number of cuttings try to not create a ‘lop-sided’ effect on the plant.
Back at the cutting board place one cutting and carefully reduce the leaves by 50% (this gives the cutting a better chance of survival by reducing moisture loss).
With the scalpel or sharp blade carefully expose the lower 15-20 mm of the outer bark (or covering) by scraping rather than cutting and dip it into a prescribed solution of ESI-ROOT or substitute a capful of honey.
Place the prepared cutting into a small pot with potting soil mix and press the soil firmly around the stem. This excludes air and areas where moisture may sit and cause the newly formed roots to rot.
The cuttings need to be watered initially. We use a 5:1 water to worm juice mix, but Seasol or seaweed type fertilisers are suitable.
Place the seedlings in a reasonably protected position and Water them daily until roots are evident at the bottom of the pot (we use nursery tubes about 50x50x115 mm).
Once roots are evident they are ready to be potted on. Contact the nursery if you have any questions.
A growing Christmas present
If you have a person that would appreciate a growing present I have a suggestion. We have been very fortunate with striking seeds of Castanospermum australe, (black bean) and it makes an excellent indoor plant. We have a number in spacesaver pots that are ready to repot now and would be about 500 mm by Christmas.
In fact, many rainforest species make excellent indoor plants (just wander around in any shopping centre) so you may want to try some other rainforest examples.
Just a note of caution. By their nature many rainforest trees can grow to be quite large plants. Only plant them out in a garden or open area that is suited to large plants. It is better to send it to ‘plant heaven’ when it outgrows it usefulness as an indoor plant. Contact the nursery for further information.
You may not know but we try to maintain a monthly stocklist covering the 20,000 odd plants we carry. It contains a lot of good plant information. Some relevant details are listed below.
- Plant name – of species that occur withing our catchment area
- Common name – for those that can’t get their heads around the confusing Latin anmes or refuse to
- Height – expected in good growing conditions
- Category – areas where you can expect to see the plant growing and surviving
- Current stock – as at last stocktake but can change quickly
- Babies – seedlings or cuttings that may be available within 4 weeks
- BF – refers to bush food information
That’s all for now. In the meantime may your plants and knowledge keep growing.
Leigh Weakley – Nursery Manager, B4C