Australian Native Plant Job List For January

What jobs should I be doing with my Australian native plants in January?

•        Feed banksias with a low phosphorus  fertiliser to encourage new growth and extra flowers in the coming winter
•        Prune off spent flowers, seed heads and dead leaves from flax lilies (Dianella species) and mat rushes (Lomandra species)
•        Trim back and feed early summer flowering shrubs such as NSW Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) and Victorian Christmas bush (Prostanhthera lasianthos). Prune 20-30cm behind the old flower heads.
•        If you are in a bushfire prone area you may want to consider using gravel mulches instead of wood or bark chips to reduce your fire risk. A depth of 5cm of coarse gravel will provide the same benefits.
•        Tip cuttings of a range of native shrubs such as mint bushes (Prostanthera species) and grevilleas can be taken at this time of year from firm new growth. Ensure the mother plant has been well watered in the previous few weeks and take cuttings early in the morning.
•        Take 10-15 cm long tip cuttings of woody shrubs such as callistemon and melaleuca. Select material that does not have soft new growth on the tips as it will be tougher.
•        Remove spent flowers from kangaroo paws taking any blackened leaves from the base of the plant at the same time.
•        Mulch banksias well at this time of year to ensure a good flower set for their winter flowering.
•        Watch for webbing caterpillars and saw fly larvae in plants such as leptospermum and callistemon. Knock them into a bucket with a stick and pour boiling water over them.
•        Put an elevated bird bath in near nectar rich plants such as grevilleas and bottlebrush to encourage small birds to nest in your garden. Also plant some spiky leaved species such as some of the acacias and hakeas to provide refuge.
•        Replenish mulch around trees and shrubs to optimize growth over the hotter part of the year.
•        Trim back behind the spent flowers of Christmas flowering plants such as NSW and Victorian Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum and Prostanthera lasianthos respectively.
•        Watch out for curl grub in your soil. These are the larvae of the African Black beetle and the Argentinian scarab beetle and are voracious feeders on the roots of many native plants. Wilting foliage on well watered plants is the most obvious symptom to look for.
•       This is a good time to transplant native palms such as cabbage palm (Livistona australis)and Bangalow palm (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana). Trim off half of the foliage by removing the oldest fronds before digging them out.
•        Plant a one-sided bottlebrush (Calothamnus quadrifidus) in areas that do not get serious winter frosts. It is a great screening plant with beautiful red toothbrush like flower heads. Keep it well watered during the first couple of months after planting.
•        At the height of summer new plantings are particularly susceptible to water stress. A handy tip is to cut the bottom off a large plastic bottle and bury the open-ended neck 10-15 cm into the soil at the base of the tree and fill every week as this will allow the water to slowly percolate deeply around the roots.