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Archives for 2010
Commercial Orchards are now established from Carnarvon to Kununurra.
Perhaps the best news however is that Mangoes can be grown and fruited very successfully in the Metropolitan area, in suburbs not affected by prolonged frosts. A versatile fruit it can be eaten fresh, frozen, made into jellies, jams chutney, pickles, juice and frozen confectionary.
A handsome evergreen bushy tree, Mangoes grow to around 5-6 metres. They provide dense shade. New foliage comes through a bright burgundy colour.
Seedling trees are not recommended with one important exception, because they can take up to 8 years to crop. The exception is Australia’s most popular variety “Kensington Pride” also known as the “Bowen” Mango. Seedling trees of this variety can produce their first crops in 2-4 years. While seedlings of Kensington Pride will produce a fruit true to form, most other seedlings are highly variable. This makes another strong case for planting grafted trees, which are of course clones of desirable varieties. Grafted varieties typically fruit 2-3 years after planting.
Mangoes are self fruitful they don’t need a second tree for pollination. Mature trees will produce between 300 and 700 fruit per season. These crops are concentrated in the months of March and April near Perth. The timing of the crop means that the fruit is susceptible to fruit fly attack so it is important to carry out a simple program using Lebaycid as a cover spray.
Getting your Mango tree to establish around Perth requires a bit of extra care. I recommend a climate shelter consisting of a shade cloth surround and top cover. You can support this by 3 or 4 stakes. I recommend a structure of 1 metre diameter and 2 metres high. When the tree is pushing against this cover its time to remove it and expose the tree to the elements
These bright and cheerful plants are tailor-made for our West Australian outdoor lifestyle. When the sun is keeping us warm and we’re enjoying the pool, a barbeque with family and friends on a balmy evening under the pergola, these tropical hibiscus are in full flower. They add colour and sparkle to the hot parts of the garden from October to May with their dazzling flowers and crisp deep green foliage. While we call them Hawaiian Hibiscus many of our varieties have been bred in W.A. The term Hawaiian style refers to the more tropical types as distinct from the old fashioned varieties such as Wilders White and Apple Blossom or the deciduous Syrian types. Some folks have become addicted to Hawaiian style hibiscus plants, growing even more tricky varieties in a quest for that perfect bloom. Well there is plenty of scope for collectors as this selection shows. You don’t have to be a collector however to get pleasure from these spectacular shrubs. They are very easy to grow once you understand their requirements. With up to 9 months of flowering and an array of colours unequalled in the plant kingdom, Hawaiian style hibiscus can add razzle dazzle or a subtle fashion colour statement to your home.
How to grow Hibiscus to perfection in W.A.
Location, Location, Location, the same essentials as for buying real estate apply. Hibiscus like a full sun location. If planted in part shade they can still flourish but flower production may be reduced.
Effective drainage is essential. In clay soils aim to build raised beds or alternatively grow in pots or tubs. Hibiscus come in a range of sizes and there is quite a deal of diversity in growth habits. This means if you need a tall bushy plant to create a privacy screen, there are appropriate varieties. On the other hand if you want low growing shrubs to put below a window so they won’t blot out a view this too is possible. The variety guide will help you as we have listed the eventual size of the plant. Small means no higher than 1 metre, medium means 1 to 2 metres, tall means 2 metres plus. Try to avoid planting where there are tall trees nearby. Apart from the shade which reduces blooms, the root competition will adversely affect the growth of the bush.
Dig a hole at least twice the diameter oft the pot and slightly deeper. Mix this soil with organic matter in the proportion of 1 is to 1. Suitable soil improvers are – Groganic, Richpeat, sheep, cow or horse manure that’s been well matured (no longer has an offensive odour). When removing the Hibiscus from its pot try to disturb the roots as little as possible.
It’s recommended that you use no fertilisers in the planting hole because of the risk of burning the exposed roots. Once your plant shows sign of a successful transplant – say 2 or 3 weeks later, then you can apply a dressing of fertiliser to the soil surface and of course water it in well.
Hibiscus are fast growing, free flowering plants that need plenty of food and water. They can exist without this level of care as can be seen in some of the older suburbs. However, you will see them in their true glory with a higher level of care.
As Hibiscus produce their flowers on the ends of the shoots, the more shoot growth you can promote the greater the number of blooms you’ll get. Pruning your plant in early Spring will ensure a fresh flush of shoot growth for the warm months of the year. Unpruned Hibiscus become old, woody and unproductive much like roses. The method is simple, just remove one third of the total growth of the Plant. It’s a good idea to also prune off any branches that touch the ground as this helps to keep snails from moving up into the bush. In cooler areas of the South West where there is a danger of spring frosts It’s a good policy to delay pruning until early October. Exceptions to annual spring pruning are a few varieties that flower on older growth. These are the varieties Apple Blossom, Wilder’s White and Darcyii. All can be left until they become straggly, then it’s best to heavily cut back, say half of their growth. The deciduous Hibiscus Syriacus can be cut back to half of the growth in winter when the plants have lost their foliage.
Mulching is one of the real secrets of success when it comes to growing Hibiscus in Perth’s Mediterranean climate and sandy soils. A 6 – 10 centimetre soil cover of organic material such as “Cornpost, Groganic, Richpeat or old (non smelly) animal manure will work wonders. One warning however is to avoid contact between the mulch and the main trunk of the Hibiscus as it often leads to collar rot, eventual ring barking and death of the plant.
As we have mentioned, hibiscus are heavy feeders. We recommend the use of Grobrite All Purpose or Tropigro as both have a well balanced blend of nutrients with a slower release organic portion. They also contain trace elements to overcome likely deficiencies. These fertilisers should be applied once a month from September to May.
REDS/CERISE HAWAIIAN STYLE
BIG TANGO – (23-25cm) – diameter.
Single, tangerine red, edge of petals bright orange, occasionally some light orange spots. Good upright grower. Medium height.
CATAVKI – Tall – Single. Claret red, dazzling flower, 20 cm diameter, tough hardy plant to 2m.
CINDERELLA – Medium height, Single.
Raspberry red, blooms shaded white with deeper eye.
ESTRELLA RED .- Medium height, single velvety red verging on black. Large overlapped single, woody growth habit.
EUREKA – Medium height, Double, Large spectacular red, one of the Brandy Collection, Upright grower. Highly recommended.
GAYE SINGH – Medium height, Double.
Orange red, wary form free flowering. Beautiful foliage. Spectacular specimen.
MARJORIE CORAL – Medium height.
Pink with red eye. Large cartwheel overlapped single. Prolific. Ruffled and tufted. Bushy. Recommended.
MOULIN ROUGE – Tall, Double. Deep cyclamen colour. Large foliage. WA. Introduction.
NORMAN RICHARDSON – Tall, Single 6″ bloom. Crushed strawberry colour. Large white centre with radiating veins. Dark green foliage.
SATU – Tall Double. Red with occasional white flecks. Fast grower, Medium textured bloom.
TANGO – Medium, Single. Tomato red halo, bright red around centre. Large flowers. Grows well.
THELMA BEN NELL – Tall, Cerise large overlapped 2 day bloom. Tall grower.
CANDENII – Tall, Single. Scarlet with a deep burgundy red eye. An old variety known by many names such as Java Red, China Red etc. Recommended.
ISLAND EMPRESS – Tall Double Cerise. Very prolific and hardy.
SABRINA – Tall, double. Sport of Mrs G.
Davies. Similar strong growth. Red Flower.
HAWAIIAN STYLE ALOHA – tow grower, Single. Bright orange large candy pink centre.
ALl UII – Medium height, Single.
Tomato red bloom splashed with lemon. Miniature overlapped trumpet shape. Prolific. Unusual.
BOOKIES BROLLIE – Tall, Single, (22 cm). Deep flamingo pink with white veins on a large area of mandarin, mottled old gold.
DELLS PRIDE – Medium height, single. (18-20 cm). Milky pink flower. Very good texture, nice foliage one of the best pinks.
DOROTHY BRADY – Tall, Double.
Pink to rose red, occasionally white streaks. Large double spectacular blooms, vigorous grower, highly recommended.
FLOWER GIRL – Medium height, single bright pink, fully overlapped.
FLAMINGO STAR – Medium height, Double. Multi-coloured rich pink with cream and yellow to apricot outer edges.
FOSTERS PINK – Medium height, Single. Available 1995. Large pale pink with mauve shading to the centre. Delicate and delightful variety.
Called Dragon Eyes because of their colour, these round yellow-brown skinned fruits are much appreciated by the Chinese. Cultivated for over 1,000 years, Longan crops later in the summer than its more famous relative, the Lychee. Remove the thin shell like skin and pop the translucent white fruit into your mouth for a real taste treat.
It’s said that Longans are an acquired taste. I acquired the taste after my first fresh fruit. The distinctive musky flavour is quite unlike the Lychee. Sweet juicy aromatic Longans are one of the more exciting fruits of the future for Perth gardens. I see an excellent commercial opportunity also. The demand for Longans from Australia’s Asian population far exceeds supply, even for poorer quality seedling fruits.
Dragon’s Eyes are less demanding in their climatic and soil requirements than Lychees. Able to withstand temperatures of -4C when mature, they actually require a chilling period to achieve a fruit set. A bushy tree to around 5 or 6 metres high with a similar spread, Longan is a heavy producer.
Because of late summer cropping there is a tendency to produce alight crop every second year while the tree builds up foliage and carbohydrates for the heavy crop the following year.
How to grow Longans
Along with many other sup-tropical trees, Longans like sunny north facing locations, rich, well drained soil and wind protection. In Thailand, trees are gradually mounded up with soil to an eventual height of 2 metres to protect the tree from being pushed over by very strong winds. Longans need heavy irrigation from September to December while the fruits are filling out. Mulching the soil with organic material is very beneficial, it provides insulation from rapid changes in temperature and moisture levels.
There has been a flood of varieties coming to Australia from China, Taiwan, Thailand, Florida and Hawaii. Grafted plants derived from these tried and tested varieties will produce earlier and the quality of the fruit is higher. While grafts are more costly than seedlings, the early extra investment pays off handsomely. Grafts should produce in their 3rd or 4th year – seedlings can take 8 to 10 years. It is too early to make recommendations about specific named varieties. Growing trials will need to supply information about local performance. So I can only suggest choosing a graft or two if you have space and grow your own trial.
A delicious fruit to eat fresh, Longan, according to some, is improved by cooking. It can be bottled and dried. Canned Longans are available and I believe taste better than tinned Lychee. To get you into the Dragon Eye Habit, buy a can of Longans and try this unusual salad:
Dragon Eye Salad (for 6 servings)
1 Large can of Longans – drained, ¾ cup cottage cheese, 1/3 to ½ mayonnaise, 1/3 cup Pecan Kernels.
Fill cavities of Longans with Cottage Cheese. Chill and place on lettuce leaves. Garnish with mayonnaise and Pecans.