After spending many years studying plants, learning the habit of different plant cultivars in the UK, it then became necessary after starting a new business in the Mediterranean, in 2004 to begin the process all over again – this time studying Mediterranean plants and their habits.
As you can imagine it was a very long process, but one that was vital in order to consider each garden situation and its conditions and so that all the plants that I used in the garden landscape projects would stay healthy year after year. It is necessary because all plants in the Mediterranean grow ten times quicker then they do in most countries. This is due several reasons; high and long light levels, therefore higher photosynthesis levels and once gardens are connected to an automatic irrigation system, the plants grow healthily and happily with little needs except occasional feeding and heavy pruning. The purpose of initially choosing the correct plants for your garden and knowing how to maintain these plans is vital, especially if you have a house that is not lived in regularly or is rented. And because plants grow ten times quicker than they do in any other country, this means that a lot of plants also get older ten times faster. Therefore plants need to be pruned often in order to keep their healthy shape, foliage and their conditions, obviously, then, this will prolong their lifespan, and will mean you will not have to dig out and replace your plants if they grow old and woody.
These are some examples of problem plants that can get out of hand in Mediterranean countries if they are not controlled correctly: Honeysuckle (Lonicera), is a very woody climber, very pretty but grows very vigorous so do chose this plant if you want to cover a large fence or gap. Also the same occurs with climbers and shrubs such as; Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), Evergreen Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides, T. asiaticum), Bougainvillea, Solanum (Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’ or
Chilean potato tree), Lavenders, Rosemary, Pandorea jasminoides, Anisodontea (Anisodontea hypomandarum – Cape Mallow), Plumbago auriculata (common names blue plumbago, Cape plumbago or Cape leadwort), Roses and any other woody stemmed plants. You can do more harm than good by leaving these plants than if you prune regularly. For example, if you see these plants flowering happily but getting very long and overgrown, take the courage to cut them back severely – you know that most people don’t like cutting plants back when in flower but don’t worry, after a few months they will be back flowering as healthy and happy as before.
Nonetheless, for Mediterranean gardening do make sure that you have a good irrigation system connected, set on a regular watering timer, and feed every 3 months with a good rose and shrub fertilizer. This technique will also help to control pests and diseases, as plants have problems when the pests and diseases are sheltered in thick foliage with no aeration, therefore giving them an ideal habit for them to breed.
As discussed earlier it has taken a few years studying different plant cultivars in order to learn some very good and healthy, all year round “cut and come again plants”. Try to find the following in garden centres if you would like some successful colourful and pretty flowering shrubs; Margarita rose (pink not white, prune well every 3 months), Tulbaghia violacea, also known as society garlic or pink agapanthus, is a species of flowering plant in the onion family Alliaceae, indigenous to southern Africa (flowers permanently, no pruning required), Lavenders (prune to 20 cm every 3 months, even when flowering but don’t prune into the old wood), Mini Roses (prune well every 3 months), Rosemary (Prune well every 3 months), Anisodontea (prune well every 3 months), Solanum (prune well every 3 months), Plumbago (prune well every 3 months).
Need some plant advice? For more details, pest and disease advice or plant ideas for your own individual garden conditions – please contact me on the home page or write to me at the plant diagnostic service contact home page www.plantandgardendoctor.com
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