Keep watch for thrips damage on rose flowers. The signs are distorted blooms that fail to open fully.
Treat affected crepe myrtles for powdery mildew.
Pick up any fallen fruit and rather than bury which encourages the grubs to develop, instead solarise these in black plastic bags to kill off fruit fly.
Citrus fall prey to a number of pest at this time of year including white wax scale, leaf miner and black scale. PestOil is a good non toxic approach to combating all three of these nasties.
Citrus can suffer from collar rot particularly in clay soils and where mulch is heaped up against the trunk. Treat with Yates Antirot.
Check camellias and holly plants for scale and treat with PestOil.
Treat moss in paving with sulphate of iron.
Remember that February 14 is Valentines Day. What better gift could there be but a perfumed red flowering rose growing in a well matched pot for the special person in your life? Use a top of the line potting mix with the red ticks Australian Standards logo which ensures a good start.
Roses that fit the Valentine's description include :- Mister Lincoln, Papa Meiland, Red Cross, Fragrant Cloud, Scentimental (white and red striped) Double Delight (cream and crimson) and David Austin roses including William Shakespeare, Fisherman's Friend and Falstaff.
Spring flowering bulbs arrive in garden centres this month and the range will never be better. Buy early but plant late is my suggestion. Cold climate types can be stored in the vegetable crisper of the fridge. Tulips, hyacinth, crocus and fritillaria all fit this bill. Hold planting until April or even May until temperatures are mild. It is ok however to plant out freesias soldier boys and babiana or baboon flower into pots as these all come from South Africa where the heat is factored into their DNA.
Prepare the soil for planting bulbs by digging in compost or well rotted animal manure.
Feed tropical plants as they are in active growth in the warm months.
Annual flowers and vegetables are also in good growth now so these need to be regularly fed. This is where liquid fertilisers come into their own as they deliver a small but readily digestible dose of nutrient.
Wetting agents can really help your plants through tough times by ensuring water gets to the root zone quickly. Apply to lawn is, garden beds pots and hanging baskets.
Plant some summer colour even if only in a few pots its gives you such a lift. Petunias and vincas are two great summer performers.
Dead heading is a good practice to improve subsequent flower production. It works well with roses, dahlias and other shrubs that hang onto spent flowers.
Keep a watch for signs of extreme stress in your garden plants particularly if you cop a run of very hot days. Things to look for include excessive flower drop, leaf wilting, dead branches, curling of foliage, in lawns the grass suddenly taking on a blue tinge and in deciduous trees foliage turning autumn colour prematurely.
Overhead watering even in the middle of mother day is the emergency response that works best when your plants are showing these symptoms. It cools the plant down fast. This is certainly not recommended as an ongoing method of watering just a one off when things get out of hand.
This is the month we tend to batten down the hatches and seek protection from the worst of the summer heat.
Mulch every bit of bare soil around the garden.
Prune off any dead wood in trees or shrubs. If you are suspicious of diseases having a role in the death of the branches, dispose of the material rather than chip or even composting, unless you use the hot method.
Sow seeds of winter flowering annuals now to get a head start on the season. Try snapdragon, primula, pansy and viola.
Monitor your irrigation system at least weekly to make sure it's all running to schedule and there are no sprinkler malfunctions.
Plan a pond or water feature to make you feel cool for next summer.
Change the water in bird baths and bowls regularly to keep it fresh.
Stay under a tree from 9 till 3 to literally save your skin.
Select hibiscus plants while they are in flower.
Prune and feed roses in preparation for the autumn flush of flowering.
Harvest onions and cure by placing in a dry cool location for a week. These can then stored for long periods before use. One of the most effective way of storing onions, garlic and shallots is to braid the leaves. This can then be hung up in a shed for many months.
Buy seed potatoes cut these into chunks with at least one 'eye' per piece. Leave these to sprout in a cool dark dry place before planting.
Grape vines can wilt on extremely hot days and this is detrimental to their fruit production. If a heatwave is forecast try giving your vines a deep soaking the day before and then every day till cooler weather arrives.
When harvesting sweet corn push a thumbnail into the kernels. If the juice is doughy its over mature, if watery it's immature, but if its milky then it's at a perfect stage to pick.
Harvest zucchini regularly even if early when fruits are small. The idea is to promote fruiting over a long season.
The extreme heat often leads to blossom end rot in tomato and capsicum. Brown patches appear at the base of the fruit at the opposite end to the stem. Also splits appear in tomato fruits and sometimes white blotches which are sunburn also show up on fruits that are exposed to direct sun. Mulching can help as well as even watering. If possible shade your plants temporarily.
Now is a great time to dry herbs- always away from the sun.
Mulch tomatoes and water regularly to avoid blossom end rot.
Now is the time to sow seeds of cabbage, lettuce, silver beet, collards, celery, onion, leek, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
Cut parsley chives and coriander every two weeks.
Cut artichoke plants to the ground to promote fresh new growth.
Select your favourite capsicum or chilli and save your own seeds.
If planting out vegetable seedlings through the hot months its a good idea to give the plants a temporary shelter for the first week to get them settled in.
Mow lawns high so that leaves shade the root system.
Regular mowing helps reduce weed infestation.
Water your lawn right after mowing to help the newly exposed blades of grass from burning.
Fungal diseases can be a problem in humid summer weather. Regular applications of seaweed extracts like Seasol have an ability to assist the plant overcome many of these problems without resort to fungicides. It's a case of using biology to fight the undesirables.
Compost lawn clippings to make good garden fertiliser. If however, you have used herbicides including weed and feed formulations on your lawn then it's best to dispose of the clippings.