Tuesday, May 16, 2017 | Regina Downes | Comments (0)


It’s May and the cooler mornings and evenings are kicking in, it’s beautiful to say the least. I love the dry season for this very reason.


Get pruning!

As the last few months have provided us with our biggest growing season, shrubs and trees have grown lots and have become tall and leggy. It’s time to give your shrubs a haircut and prune the older branches of your trees back if needed.

Shrubs that could do with a good prune back now;

  • Hibiscus
  • Murrayas
  • Ixoras
  • Syzygiums
  • Crotons
  • Bougainvilleas
  • Thunbergias
  • Cordylines
  • Alternatheas
  • Dracaenas



  • Pennisetums
  • Chrysopogons


Prune back your ornamental grasses, right back; roughly 5cm from ground level (trust me they will grow back) with your Dianella grasses (flax lily) just cut off the outter foliage and thin out.


Hibiscus cottonwoods (prune branches to create a nice shaped canopy) this tree can and will survive a big hard prune, so don’t be shy! 

  • Mimusops
  • Pongamias
  • Allosyncarpias
  • Prune off any old branches and any small spindly new branch shoots, only keep the strong branches

Ground covers;

  • Alternathea fire bug
  • Gardenias
  • Russellias

Give these ground covers a light prune to encourage a bushier plant

Gingers & Heliconia’s

We usually don’t cut back or divide our Gingers or Heliconia’s until the end of the dry season, start of the wet season. There is no reason why you can’t do it now if you haven’t done it a few months ago. FYI the reason why we wait until the end of the dry season/start of the wet season is because it’s the biggest growing time as the humidity is high, so we usually propagate (divide) gingers and Heliconias then, to ensure we have new well established plants for the following dry season. 

If you want to clean up/cut back your gingers or Heliconias, you can do this by cutting off the foliage at ground level. As these plants grow from underground rhizomes they will grow back even if you cut the entire plant right down to ground level. If you do cut the plant back to ground level, new shoots will shoot up in a matter of weeks and in no time at all you will have a new fresh looking plant!



Time to ‘TOP UP’

As you will have noticed after the nice big wet season we just had, your potting mix in your pots and the soil in your garden beds will have reduced and composted nicely, so now it’s time to top up the pots and garden beds with some fresh potting mix and garden soil for the beds. The rain will have ‘leached out’ all the fertiliser in the soil so make sure you don’t forget to add fertiliser to your soil.

Mulch any garden beds that have soil exposed to the elements, this help prevent weeds growing and will reduce evaporation whilst also keeping the plant cool.

In the Veggie patch

This month is a good time to start planting

Cucumber, Eggplant, Snake beans, Spring onions, Watermelon, Ginger, Capsicum, Basil, Sweet corn & Tomatoes

When you have finished planting your veggie seedlings, make sure you cover the soil around them in sugar cane mulch or similar

If you are limited in space try using this technique I learned way back in my college days, it’s called The three sisters veggie garden-

The three sisters Veggie garden

Want a veggie garden and have limited space, well this is the garden is for you! The 3 sister’s veggie garden. Originally stemmed from the American Indians in the early 1500’s this garden is all about the 3 sisters -

In the family each of the sisters contributes something to the planting of the veggie garden. Together, the sisters provide a balanced diet from a single planting. Planting Climbing beans, corn and squashes

The Corn is planted firstly, once established the beans are then planted and are supported by the corn plant

Then the squashes are planted along the ground in between the corn stalks. Each veggie plant complementing the next. All in a small space, three veggies growing together, each not competing for space or light.

Feel free to share any comments below if you have any helpful tips or advice when growing herbs and veggies here in the Top End, we would love to read your comments!

Watch out for next Month’s gardening Blog June-What you should be doing in your Top End Garden this Month



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