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The colour of summer

The festive season heralds vibrantly-coloured pohutukawa. Also known as the New Zealand Christmas Tree, its stunning red flowers are a feature of New Zealand’s coastline in mid-summer and are a rich source of nectar for bees and native birds . . .

Pohutukawa

Pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsea) can be grown from seed or potted plants and will eventually reach around 5-8 metres tall when mature.

There are also dwarf varieties of pohutukawa that grow to a much more compact 1-3 metres and can be planted into containers or grown as a dense hedge.

They are hardy plants, tolerating dry and coastal areas and a position in full sun.

New Zealand native plants like pohutukawa will benefit from being fed each spring and autumn with Yates' Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food. It's a pelletised blend of composted chicken manure, blood & bone, fishmeal and seaweed and releases organic nutrients slowly to gently feed plants.

Regular applications of Yates Dynamic Lifter will help to improve the levels of organic matter in the soil, which encourages earthworms and beneficial soil microorganisms as well as promoting improved soil moisture and nutrient storage.

After the floral frenzy of spring, it's fantastic to be able to include summer flowering plants like pohutukawa in your garden, to help ensure an ongoing supply of food for birds, bees and other beneficial insects.

' Tidy tip: after flowering, give your New Zealand Christmas trees a good trim to help keep them neat and compact.

Summer rose care

Summer can bring heat, hot dry winds and high humidity, which all affect the health and appearance of roses. And if your roses have developed leggy or sparse growth and spindly stems it's a sign that your roses need a summer prune.

Summer pruning roses refreshes and reinvigorates the plants and they will respond in a matter of weeks, putting on new growth, ready for another flush of flowers.

In fact, you can time rose re-blooming if you have a special event coming up, as they will flower again around 6-7 weeks after pruning.

Perhaps time your rose pruning so you'll have beautiful home grown blooms to give your Valentine on February 14th.

Rose pruning is not tricky — just trim off around 30 percent of the overall growth and also remove any dead or thin stems. You can use hedge shears or a good sharp pair of secateurs.

Don't forget to protect your hands, arms (and face) from rose thorns with sturdy gloves, long sleeves and glasses.

After pruning, collect up all the fallen leaves and stems, which helps to reduce the incidence of disease, and apply some Yates Thrive Roses & Flowers Liquid Plant Food and water in well. It's a complete and balanced liquid fertiliser that has been boosted with extra flower promoting potassium.

Next, spread a layer of mulch, like lucerne or pea straw around the root zone, which will help keep the soil moist and protect the top soil from the elements. Reapply Thrive each week to encourage healthy new foliage growth and lots of gorgeous flowers.

Summer is prime time for mites, which are known as red spider or two-spotted mites. They are sap feeding pests that can quickly infest roses and other flowering plants (such as marigolds) during hot, dry weather. It's difficult to see mites with the naked eye, as they are very tiny. It's easier to see the symptoms, which include yellowing and mottled leaves and when populations are large, mites can create a mass of fine webbing, similar to a spider's web.

Roses infested with mites can really suffer, losing lots of leaves and in severe cases mites can kill bushes.

Yates' Rose Gun Black Spot & Insect Pest Killer can be used to control mites on roses and other ornamental plants. Be sure to spray both sides of foliage, as mites often hide underneath leaves.

Roses can be attacked by other pests during summer, particularly if there is any new foliage or flower buds developing. Insects such as aphids, thrips, whitefly and caterpillars can damage leaves, stems and flowers.

And diseases like black spot, rust and powdery mildew can all affect roses during the warmest months, causing leaves to discolour, distort and fall prematurely from the plant. This weakens the rose and reduces the flower show.

Yates Rose Gun Black Spot & Insect Pest Killer controls the most common pests and diseases on roses in one easy, ready to use spray. Spray plants every two weeks to help keep plants healthy.

And for larger gardens, or gardeners with lots of roses, Yates Super Shield Rose Spray contains a concentrated insecticide fungicide combination that is diluted in water and applied via a sprayer.

— Courtesy of Yates