Easy vegetable gardening and plant tips for Brisbane

Well, Brisbane, you asked for home gardening tips and our local expert, Brisbane City Council’s Botanic Gardens’ Curator Dale Arvidsson, has dug up some great advice for you.

Whether you want help with growing your own veggies, learning to garden, looking after indoor plants or tips on plant pests, Dale has some great advice and tricks.

Thanks to everyone who joined our Facebook Q&A session with Dale. We hope this advice helps you grow your green sanctuary at home here in Brisbane! 

Time to repot

Q. How often do ferns need repotting/fertilising (e.g. Boston fern) and is it okay to separate them when I repot? They seem too big for their pots.

Dale says: Ferns are quite happy being somewhat root bound in a pot as long as they get the right amount of watering and fertilising. However, if your plants are suffering and looking yellow or bare, divide them up, but be aware it will take a year or two for them to recover completely. Ensure your divisions are not too small, so split the plants into just two or three sections the first time you attempt this.

Q. When do I know to repot a peace lily to a bigger pot?

Peace lilies are quite happy to be a bit root bound in their pots. The two best ways to check if you need to repot are if your peace lily stops flowering or if it is wilting and drying out. When repotting, put it into a pot just a size or two bigger.

Q. My once very healthy ZZ plant is losing leaves and withering. Does it need re-potting? And splitting? If so, is this a good time of year to do it?

Dale says: ZZ plants or Zanzibar Gems (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) are quite happy in a small pot and slightly root bound, but do prefer shade to appear lush and green. Don't overwater your re-potted plant and your ZZ plant should slowly send up new glossy green leaves.

Boston fern (large pot, centre)

Vegetable gardening at home

Q. What are the best things to plant at this time of year?

A. The cooler months are the perfect time to start a veggie patch. Watch Dale's video about the best things to plant at this time of year and remember, the trick is to find the sunniest spot in your garden!

Q. How do I start growing things from seed?

Dale says: One of the simplest things you can do to help sow the next generation of green thumbs is to sow seeds. It's a great activity to do with kids to teach them about how things grow.

For more about seeds and seedlings, watch our videos with Annette McFarlane about how to save dry seeds and how to sow seeds. Check out our DIY eco-hack for turning toilet rolls into seedling pots at home.

For a thriving indoor jungle

Q. How do I choose which indoor plants are best? How do I keep indoor plants alive?

Dale says: Your Instagram feed might be filled with lush indoor jungles that have you green with envy, but it's important to research the best plants for your household. Read our list of popular indoor plants for some inspiration. Understanding where to place plants in your home for optimal natural light is also key to keeping them healthy.

About pruning roses

Q. What's the best time to prune roses and what's the best method to get great growth and blooms?

Dale says: There are many different varieties and forms of roses, and pruning them all depends on what variety they are — shrub, climbing or rambling. The Queensland Rose Society can help you identify your rose and help answer questions.

Love roses? Wander the rose garden at New Farm Park, New Farm

Dealing with garden pests

Q. I've planted some baby bean plants, but on inspection this morning, the bottom of the stem looks almost rotten and had the inside eaten out. Not sure what's happened. Have I overwatered them or is it a bug?

Dale says: A number of caterpillars and insects such as slaters will attack young seedling plants, and beans, peas and tomatoes are especially tasty to them. It will look like something has been gnawing on the lower stem, ringbarking the plants. Go out at night and look with a torch to see if you can spot them. Keep mulch/straw back and away from the base of the plant. If it's an ongoing problem, choose a different location for your beans (and a different mulch) or different plants.

Q. How do I stop birds eating my succulents?

Dale says: If it is definitely birds, your choices are to either prevent them from accessing the plant, scaring them away or if it’s the moisture they are after, try placing a birdbath nearby. Try using some form of protective cage or net for a time to discourage them. Or you may like to make a bird scarer that moves/reflects, and place near the plants, as a temporary measure. 

Q. We seem to have a bug that is eating our citrus fruit making them mould and drop off the tree. How do we treat it?

Dale says: Unfortunately, there are many insects that can cause problems with citrus, and I would need to see some images of your damaged fruit. If it is fruit fly, which are more active over summer and autumn in warm and moist conditions, you may like to try a commercially available fruit fly trap. Fruit fly also cause blue or green mould as a secondary issue after the ‘sting’. Destroying any damaged fruit as good hygiene can really help. 

Q. Grasshoppers are destroying our monstera. What's the best and easiest way to stop this?

Dale says: Grasshoppers can be almost unstoppable. You have three choices:

  1. Try a recommended insecticide.
  2. Spray an organic deterrent spray, which can include garlic, chilli or cayenne pepper, onto the leaves (often more successful on smaller grasshoppers).
  3. I have found the most successful method for me (which is a little unpleasant but offers good exercise and dexterity) is to catch them by hand and dispose of them.

Q. My lawn is being overtaken by khaki weed! How do I get rid of it?

Dale says: Use one of the recommended herbicides available from your local nursery. If you want to try to remove it by hand weeding, you'll need to be very persistent as this weed is spread by both its seed and tiny root or stem fragments.

For more garden inspiration

For some real-life garden inspiration, visit Council's three botanic gardens at Mt Coot-tha, Brisbane City and Sherwood. Dale's eight essential gardening tips blog is also packed with great tips.

Related links

Date posted:
Last updated: 2 February 2021
Topics: green