Natives, ferns and caterpillars

YOURLifeChoices‘ Gardening Guru, Teena Crawford, shares her incredible gardening knowledge, saving you time and hassle.

Q. I am moving into a new house at the beginning of June and want to know if I can plant natives then or if it is best to wait until early spring?

A. Moving to a new house (and new garden) is exciting. I would suggest moving in and waiting until spring to plant some natives. Over the winter, take some time to plan your garden considering things such as:

·tif there is existing garden, do any plants need to be removed, re-located, etc?

·twhich way your home is orientated in relation to the sun, prevailing winds, etc.

·tdo you need shade from trees where the summer sun is too hot?

·tcreating areas to relax in the garden and a place to have your outdoor table and chairs.

Q. I know ferns require shade but do they need a lot of watering?

A. Generally, ferns require constant moisture. Their natural habitat is in the shaded gullies where the air is moist and cool. Although ferns need moisture, there would be some ferns that are ‘more’ tolerant of drier conditions. Try undertaking some research on the internet, in books or contacting a specialist fern nursery that will be able to suggest some hardy ferns for your specific region.

Q. My potted gardenia is being eaten away by something. Could it just be snails or something more?

A. If your potted gardenias have cut out holes in their leaves it may be snails or earwigs. Baysol or other snail bait will control both. Alternatively, if the gardenia leaves have large sections of leaves eaten it probably is a caterpillar or grub eating them. To control this you can spray the gardenias with Dipel, which is not a chemical as such, but a ‘biological control type substance’ which the caterpillars will ingest as they eat the leaves. Over two or three days the caterpillars die because the Dipel eats away their insides!