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Myth Busting... Winter

Myth: No one gardens in winter.

Answer: FALSE. If you live in the tropics and do not garden during the winter, you will end up with a jungle within a few weeks. All gardens need a bit of care during all seasons.


Myth: It’s too cold in winter to create a landscape.

Answer: FALSE. Winter is one of the best times to plan and create your landscape. Imagine inviting friends over, anytime of the year to enjoy alfresco dining in your backyard – winter, spring, summer or autumn.


Myth: Only buy plants in spring as the plants will establish better.

Answer; FALSE. By spring you have missed the best time to establish the plants. Get them into the ground or pot them up, before spring/summer heat desiccates the soil and slows growth.


Myth: Plants do not grow in winter.

Answer: FALSE. Look around and you will see plants throughout the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate climates still flowering, still putting on fresh growth. Fruit and vegetable gardens are still in production.


Myth: Tropical plants are sensitive to frost

Answer: TRUE. Many plants sold in nurseries come from the tropics and may be sensitive to your local outdoor conditions. Ask your garden centre if they source stock from a local grower – these plants may be tougher in your conditions.


Myth: Don’t buy plants sourced from tropical areas in the middle of winter to plant in the ground if you live in a cooler climate.

Answer: TRUE. Wait until the weather warms up before planting warmth loving species, if you live in a cooler climate.


Myth: Clean your garden tools and store them for winter.

Answer: FALSE. Where do you live? Toronto or Townsville? Your tools should always be looked after, 365 days of the year, ready for when you may need to use them.


Myth: My Roses need to be cut back in winter.

Answer: FALSE. Roses continue to bloom in the tropics and subtropics throughout winter. Give your roses a regular light pruning to promote further flushes of flowers.


Myth: Bulbs can only be grown in colder southern states.

Answer: FALSE. It all depends on the varieties and types you select for your local climate. Many popular bulbs are native to tropical and subtropical areas. Like all other plants, select species that perform in your area. Visit other gardens and talk to other gardeners about their success and failures. Many warm climate bulbs flower in summer and autumn and are available bare-rooted during winter and spring.


Myth: Winter is the best time to prune plants

Answer: FALSE. It is better to wait until the weather warms in spring or to prune shortly after flowering finishes..


Myth: Cold winters kill off pests and diseases in southern states but not in the tropics and subtropics.

Answer: FALSE. Bugs and diseases become problematic in suitable climatic conditions and on suitable host plants. Winter does not kill off pest populations in southern climates - pests adapt by going into dormancy over this period when food may be scarce. During warm weather pest and diseases can be quite damaging over a short period of time in the tropics and subtropics. It pays to do regular checks through the garden during these times of the year.


Myth: Ponds and water features do not need any attention in winter as algae growth is not present.

Answer: FALSE. It is imperative that pond owners maintain water health throughout the winter months. This may involve preventative algae control (such as pea straw bags) and the regular removal of debris. 


Myth: Winter is a wet season.

Answer: FALSE. The tropics and subtropics generally have a dry winter and wet, humid summer. Know your climate and gardening will be a lot easier.


Myth: gardens stop gardening in the subtropics, tropic and warm climates.

Answer: FALSE. If the plants grow, we stay active.

President 2006 of the Queensland Council of Garden Clubs (www.qcgc.net), Norma Fawdon points out “In the sub-tropics spring, summer, autumn and winter meld together and plants keep growing and maturing.  With a hat, shorts, tee-shirt and favourite secateurs in hand, you are ready to garden most days of the year – for example, winter does not mean stay indoors while the plants in the garden sleep.

Join a garden club or society and learn from guest speakers and passionate gardeners how to achieve the best results.  Members share cuttings and potted plants and enjoy visiting different nurseries on regular bus trips.

Gardens in the sub-tropics keep changing and evolving, giving pleasure at your leisure throughout the year.”



written by Paul Plant, Editor of subTropical Gardening magazine - www.stgmagazine.com.au

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