How To Grow (And Keep Alive) Plants In Canberra!

We Ask The Experts!

Article heading image for How To Grow (And Keep Alive) Plants In Canberra!

Keeping plants alive is challenging enough without the scorching hot and freezing cold temps we get in the Capital, so we ask the legends from Heritage Nursery Yarralumla for some tips!

Scott Burns, who literally studied horticulture and made this his life's work, sat down to give us an idiots guide to gardening in Canberra...

Is this a good time of year to be planting new things?

February is usually the worst time of the year  in Canberra to be planting in the garden.  It is generally the hottest month and very dry. This year is an exception to the rule with el Nina providing cooler than average temperatures and regular, higher than average rainfall. So this year I have no qualms planting in February. In normal years March onwards would be more suitable.

What are some plants that will survive through both summer and winter?

This is a huge question. Most plants will survive the heat, especially if planted wisely. Sun-lovers in full sun, those which are prone to sunburn (i.e fine leaved Japanese Maples in dappled shade or morning sun with no reflected heat from pavers, glass etc). There are so many plants which fit this criterion. 

Possibly the best way to answer is "What plants will not survive through the cold Canberra winter"? Simple answer, tropical and sub-tropical plants which are left in an exposed and frosty position. There are also many micro-climates in a garden, townhouse courtyard or balcony to consider. Many of these situations are totally frost free. 

Citrus plants can survive with winter frost cover and ample position

Citrus are a great example of plants which do not like the frost but love the summer heat and sun. They are traditionally planted against a north or west facing brick wall (as it forms a heat bank and stays a bit warmer through the winter months). Citrus planted in more exposed positions require winter frost covers.

Any tips/ tricks for keeping them alive during the cold?

Potted plants which are frost tender such as Frangipani, Hibiscus, Dwarf Bougainvillea can be brought indoors to a sunny/well lit room. Marginal plants which have been planted in the garden can be sprayed with a frost protectant called "Envy" which can provide up to 2 degrees extra protection. Alternatively, Marex Thermal Frost Cover (Horticultural Fabric) suspended above frost sensitive plants will provide some added protection too. Simple rule, the more tropical and sensitive the plant, the more protection is required.

Plants like Frangipani can survive Canberra winters with frost protectant 

What are your best recommendations for easy, beginner plants to check out?

There is a huge range of very tough plants. Hedging/Screening - Photinia, Viburnum, Pittosporum, Bottlebrush, Rhaphiolepis (Indian Hawthorn), Portugese Laurel, English Box, Japanese spindle Bush (Euonymus). General Shrubs - Hebe, Westringia, Diosma, Abelia, Grevilleas, Correas,  Mexican Orange Blossom (Choisya), Sweet Box (Sarcococca), Buddleia and Lavender for example. Flowers - All spring flowering Bulbs incl. Daffodils, Tulips, Jonquils, Hyacinth, and many more. Salvias, Gaura, Euryops are also all very easy. 

Lavender is a tough plant that will survive winter with low maintenance!

Want some tips and tricks for what's best for your garden? Visit Scott and the team at the nursery for all the expert advice!

Heritage Nursery Yaramlumla won Best Retail Garden Nursery NSW & ACT for 2019 & 2020

9 February 2021

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