Bamboo Care over Winter

Hi everyone, Jeramee here, a little late since my first post, but politely so I think – so much to do, so little time, that kind of thing, which I am sure you’ll understand. Aren’t the days cold at the moment and so little rain? Here at the nursery we’ve been answering a lot of phone calls from worried customers that their bamboo is looking somewhat shabby and has taken a backward step in the last couple of months. Well let me tell you if I had to have my feet buried in the dirt and I was left outside in this weather I would feel less than chipper too. Give me a doona, my panda onesie and a hot bowl of soup and I’m happy and healthy. Bamboo is much the same.

The biggest mistake we all make is looking out the window in June. We see that the paths are damp, the hills are green and it’s cold. Don’t need to water, everything is wet we say. Unfortunately this is not always so. If you went out and took that mulch off, you would find that the soil is quite dry. That 1 or 2mm of rain we had overnight has wet the mulch but not heavy enough to soak the soil underneath. As a result your poor bamboo is dying of thirst. It’s leaves are yellow and dropping off, the leaf tips are brown and curling up, and it’s just looking miserable.

Thirsty – So, give your bamboo a couple of good drinks a week if there is little rain. I always suggest to build a wall of soil around your bamboo clumps or plant in a slight bowl so that you can flood irrigate. This stops the water running away and allow the roots to get a good soak. Keep in mind that clumping bamboo comes from climates with a much higher rainfall than here in Adelaide so if you want beautiful bamboo don’t just rely on the rain, you will need to give extra water the whole year, even in Winter.

Automatic? If you have an irrigation system please make sure that it’s on long enough for the water to get down into the roots. Also remember to replace your batteries if you have this kind of system. Play it safe and replace every 6 months and do a test at the same time to make sure everything is tickety boo. Being old school, I would still recommend you hand irrigate at least once a week. It allows you to have the peace of mind that all is well and it connects you to your bamboo so you can observe what is going on.

Staying warm – As the weather becomes colder the soil does the same thing and your bamboo will really appreciate a good layer of organic matter (mushroom compost, cow manure or your own compost) and then apply a good, thick mulch. What this will do is insulate the ground and keep it at an even temperature and stop moisture loss. The compost will keep the micro organisms and bacteria chirpy in the soil and this will make your bamboo hysterically happy. Think of it as the plant form of Kimchi and Kombucha, and we all know how good we feel eating our fermented food. Bamboo is no different.

Feed – The mulch (pea straw, lucerne or bags of cottage mulch) is the plant’s doona, making it snuggly buggly for the cold days ahead. Do all that in the late Autumn and you will notice the difference. If you haven’t done it yet it don’t worry, it will still work if you do it now. I would also suggest you throw a good handful of organic fertiliser on the compost for each clump, then apply the mulch. Oh, and if they are decent sized clumps, use a bag of compost per clump evenly spread and the mulch should be at least 10cm-20cm deep. I would do this compost, mulch thing twice a year, April-May and again in October-November. Fertilise 4 times a year with your organic, slow release fertiliser.

Please don’t worry if your bamboo looks sad. Follow the instructions above and as soon as the warm weather comes back they will bounce back bigger and better than ever. Then you can wander round your piece of paradise in your sarong singing Tahitian love songs under a full moon. Oh the thought. Stay warm chooks, speak to you soon, Love, Jeramee xxx

May 29, 2018 Indoor Plant Care 

Hello, my name is Jeramee, Plant Stylist at Jungle in Willunga.  I’m hoping to have a small soiree with you all regularly to have a chat about plants, bits and bobs that I’ve collected during the week that might be interesting to us all. So, put the yoga mat back in the cupboard, grab a cup of dandelion tea and let’s talk. Thought this week we might have a peek at indoor plants.  Aren’t they popular at the moment and deservedly so.  It’s like being back in the 70’s!  Makes me want to wear my paisley caftan again and throw fondue parties every Saturday night!

Apart from their ability to filter out toxins in the air, (Google, NASA clean air study and The Kamal Meattle TED video) they bring life to any indoor space and a sense of happiness and wellbeing.  I know when I walk in through the door at night exhausted from a day of creating, my indoor plants always manage to put a smile on my face. Yes, I can hear you all saying “I don’t have time to look after them”, “I kill every plant I own”, “We go away a lot and no one is home to water them” or “My house is too dark during the day”….  Well I am here to tell you that there is an indoor plant for every situation.

If, like myself, you have managed to ditch the partner and pack the kids off to boarding school, you probably have the time to fuss over the greenery.  As a result, I have come to the conclusion there aren’t many plants that wouldn’t prosper in your space. However for most of you, indoor plants are another chore to add to the list.  Let me tell you it doesn’t need to be so. Good plant selection and a few rules and your rooms will look as chirpy as a box of fluffy ducks.

RULE NO. 1 – WATERING Most indoor plant deaths are due to overwatering particularly in Winter.  I am often asked “How often do I water?”  That’s like asking “How long is a piece of string!”  It depends on a lot of factors such as the air temperature inside, how much light they are getting and the particular plant. Generally though indoor plants require more water in the warm months and less in the cold months.  This is because in the colder months they won’t be growing much or at all.  As a result, cut the watering back, unless the room is heated of course. But even then growth will slow down as there are less daylight hours for the plant to grow.

I guess as a rule of thumb I water my indoors once a week in the warm months (on a Sunday night, easy to remember the last time I watered) and maybe every 10 days to 2 weeks in the depths of Winter.  Best idea is to put your finger in the soil down to a depth of your middle finger joint.  If you can feel any moisture, don’t water it. If it’s dry, water it. Don’t EVER let your indoor plants sit in a saucer full of water, unless the plant is big, filled the pot full of roots and it’s Summer.  Imagine if I made you stand in a bucket of cold water for weeks on end in the Winter.  Not only would you have a bad case of tinea but your feet would rot away and you’d end up feeling pretty miserable.  Plants are the same.  If you are using a saucer so the water doesn’t stain the white shag pile rug, tip it out after watering.

RULE NO. 2 – LIGHT All plants require light to photosynthesise so they can grow and prosper.  However the amazing thing about plants is they all have different light requirements. Apart from a few plants, none like being in front of a window getting full blasty sun, they will just shrivel.  So partly draw the blinds, particularly in Summer and all will be well.  Likewise, don’t make the mistake of putting them outside for a breather, even if it is in the shade.  Indoor light is a lot darker then outdoor shade and the likelihood is the plant will burn or get damaged leaves. I’ve seen many plants made kaputski because of this.  Also remember that in the cooler months outside is colder than inside and the plant will get the shock of its life if you throw it out for some R&R.

RULE NO. 3- WASH ME Every now and then it’s a good idea to wash the plant’s leaves.  It opens up its pores, cleans away the grime and dust and makes your indoor plants feel rejuvenated and fresh again (sounds like a cosmetic commercial). Now if you are looking for some meditative hobby, and chanting is not your thing, then grab a bowl of room temperature water and a cloth and wipe each and every leaf.  It is quite soothing I must say – but not for those on a deadline.  Your other option is to take your indoor plants to the shower and turn on the tap.  They will think they’re back home in Borneo and in the middle of a monsoonal downpour.  You could even get the kids to make thunder noises and flick the lights on and off to simulate lightning.  That will occupy them for at least 25 seconds. But the plants will benefit enormously.

RULE NO. 4- FEED ME Easy. For most indoor plants, buy an indoor slow release fertiliser like Osmocote, or Nutricote.  You only have to do it once every 3 – 4 months or whatever the time is on the packet.  Don’t use an odorous fertiliser, I did once and ended up attracting all manner of creatures into my space.  Also if you own a Labrador, or similar, they will eat it, which is good for the dog, their coat will shine like never before.  But the plant will miss out and it’s the plant I’m concerned about.

RULE NO. 5 – FRESH AIR Like us, indoor plants will be much happier with good ventilation and a nice airy environment.  Most indoor plants like shade but they don’t want to live in a cave.  Good ventilation doesn’t mean cold and draughty though, remember that in Winter.

 RULE NO. 5 – CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLANT Very important.  Plants all have their particular requirements, so you need to be aware of what they are before you buy them.  Easy to buy the very showy, big leafed beauty that’s been raised in the perfect environment, but unless you can supply it’s needs it isn’t going to look like that in a month.  Likewise, you have a set of requirements dictated by your lifestyle. If you’re a busy little sausage you aren’t wanting to own a plant which needs regular watering and attention.  My advice with indoor plants is do some research before you buy and come to the nursery and ask the staff for some suggestions about what would suit your space.  A photo on the phone is always good.Well I am all chatted out.  Think I need a bex, cup of tea and a lie down.  Hope this helps.  At Jungle in Willunga we are all so happy to help you pick the right plants for your home.

See you there, Toodle Pip, Jeramee xxx