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Stunning sasanquas

Courtesy of Yates

Camellias are a wonderfully-versatile and beautiful group of plants. They can be grown as a hedge or espaliered, used as a feature plant or grown in containers, and provide gorgeous colour during the cooler months of the year, particularly in shaded areas that can be challenging to add colour to.

Camellias

Sasanqua camellias, which are more sun- hardy than japonica camellias, start flowering in mid to late autumn. Growing several varieties of both sasanqua and later-flowering japonica camellias can bring many months of flowers into the garden.

Colours range from white to pretty pastel pinks, reds and even yellow and there are also different flower types, including doubles, ruffled petals and single flowers with exposed stamens, which are adored by bees.

As the cooler weather approaches, here are some tips to help keep your sasanqua camellias looking fantastic:

' Feeding — all camellias will love a feed during autumn with Yates Thrive Granular Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Plant Food. It provides a potassium-enriched nutrient boost to help promote healthy green leaf growth and lots of flowers.

' Watering — camellias like moist but well- drained soil, so water camellias regularly to keep them hydrated. Potted camellias will require more frequent watering than in-ground camellias.

' Green thumb tip: If you've had problems with bud balling in the past (where buds form but go brown and don't open), an application of liquid magnesium might help. Yates Leaf Greener Magnesium Chelate is a concentrated source of fast-acting magnesium that can help correct magnesium deficiency in camellias.

A rose for your winter shopping list

Winter is just around the corner, which means bare-rooted rose planting time is not far away.

Bred by David Austin, ‘The Poet's Wife' is a beautiful shrub rose with cupped flowers that begin as deep yellow buds and gradually pale and soften as the flowers age. It has a lovely rich fragrance with a hint of lemon. The Poet's Wife grows to around 1m tall and wide with glossy green foliage.

This gorgeous variety will be available during winter as bare-rooted or potted plants. When planting a bare-rooted rose, choose a spot in the garden that receives at least six hours of sunshine a day and has good air flow. Dig a hole around 30cm wide and deep. Mix some Yates Thrive Natural Blood & Bone into the soil dug from the hole.

Create a pyramid-shaped mound of soil in the bottom of the planting hole. Place the rose in the hole with its roots sitting on and around the mound of soil. Ensure that the graft union (bump on the stem) will be sitting at least 5cm above the final ground level.

Backfill around the roots gently with Yates Thrive Natural Blood & Bone-enriched soil and then water in well. Apply a layer of organic mulch, like bark chips or lucerne mulch, around the new rose, keeping the mulch a few centimetres away from the stem. Keep the soil moist while the new rose establishes.

The Poet's Wife is also perfect for growing in a pot. Choose a pot at least 30cm in diameter and fill with a good quality potting mix like Yates Premium Potting Mix.

Organic aphid control

Tender young vegetable and flower seedlings are vulnerable to attack from aphids. Aphids are small, sap-sucking insects that can be black, brown, grey or green and are often seen congregating on delicate new leaves unfurling in the centre of the plant or lurking underneath foliage. Aphids deplete plants of valuable nutrients and sugars and can impact plant health and harvests.

Symptoms of an aphid infestation include:

' Leaves curling, distorting or turning yellow.

' Ants running up and down plants. Ants are attracted to the sticky honeydew that aphids excrete.

' Sooty mould, which is a disease that looks like a dark grey covering of ash over leaves and stems. Sooty mould grows on the honeydew produced by the aphids.

Cool season vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage, Asian greens and cauliflower are commonly infested by aphids, as are flowers like violas, pansies and poppies.

The odd aphid can be squished between your fingers or hosed off with a squirt from the hose. However, large, damaging colonies can develop quickly.

To protect plant health aphids can be controlled with Yates Nature's Way Natrasoap Vegie Insect Gun. It's a ready-to-use insecticidal soap based on natural vegetable oils. It's certified for use in organic gardening by BioGro NZ, so it's ideal for people wanting to use organic methods of pest control in their gardens. Control the aphids by spraying both sides of leaves, every 10-12 days, just to the point of run off.

Natrasoap is also available in a concentrate pack for larger gardens.

' Handy tip: Yates Nature's Way Natrasoap will also control damaging whitefly and mites.

— Courtesy of Yates

Camellias are a wonderfully-versatile and beautiful group of plants.