What to do in April

The colours of autumn are starting to appear now alongside the autumn frosts. April is a wonderful month of warm days and cool nights that make gardening a little bit easier. It’s time to turn from summer and look toward the coming winter.


Many bulbs are being planted but April has been warm so far. A rise in temperature will signal bulbs to flower. This can easily happen in the variable Queenstown weather, causing bulbs to flower in autumn rather than spring. To stop this, plant them at the correct depth: tulips 10cm, daffodils 15cm (depending on size of species) and crocuses about 5cm. It also depends where you are planting, if you are now getting some regular frosts in that area bulbs will be fine to plant, but if you’re in a warmer area like Kelvin Heights it may be better to wait until the end of April / start of May. Bulbs will not need to be put in the fridge either as Queenstown is its own fridge.


Lift or cover Dahlias after frost has damaged the top of the plant. Most dahlia tubers will die if frosted, sometimes this doesn’t happen if the ground doesn’t freeze deep enough. However some areas do, so to stop the frost reaching them you can cover them with straw or a bundle of frost fleece. If you really don’t want to risk it you can dig them up, dry them out and then plant again in spring.

Improve soil conditions by adding sheep pellets or well rotted manure. The pellets and manure will break down gradually over winter making it ready for plant use in spring.

Overgrown perennials can be lifted and divided. There’s nothing better than free plants! This can’t be done with all plants, so if in doubt do a little google first.

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Veggies and fruit:

Garlic can be planted at the end of the month but we’ll tell you more in May.

Raspberries that are fruiting now will usually be autumn fruiting raspberries. Autumn fruiting raspberries can be pruned after fruiting into winter. They crop on new years growth so prune canes back to the ground. If you have a double cropping variety like ‘Aspiring’ then prune to a non – fruiting leaf as these will grow into your summer crop, prune out all older canes.


Take hardwood cuttings of fruit bushes to increase your stock, potentially replacing older plants.

Keep harvesting your carrots and beetroot.

Not many plants will be worth germinating from seed now, except microgreens and sprouts. You can still plant many seedlings for a crop in winter or spring.


If your lawn was used frequently over summer or you have moss trying to over take then you should aerate. Do this by making 15cm holes in your lawn with your fork every 30cm, then top dress and fill the holes with a mix of compost and sand. If your soil is sandy make a mix that is predominantly compost. On the other hand if your soil is clay add more sand than compost.

Also hold off on that high nitrogen fertiliser going into winter (which is most lawn fertilisers). A feed high in potassium is better for stronger root growth and plant health. Grass is still a plant after all. Use sulphate of potash or kelp meal instead. Why not use your usual fert? High nitrogen fertilisers encourage quick soft growth, this soft growth is very susceptible to fungus which is more common in the wetter autumn weather. You’ll also only end up mowing more anyway. An added benefit of applying a potash feed is that you’ll make your grass more drought tolerant, which is essential for summer.

General maintenance:

Keep collecting fallen leaves from lawns, paths, drives and anywhere they’re not wanted. Remember, those leaves are the trees food source and a favourite for worms. So compost them!! If you really can’t leave them around the base of trees as a mulch and feed then make sure you give the trees a top dress with a rich compost, preferably home made. If you’ve just planted your trees then make sure you leave the base clear so you can top dress. Sowing a lawn around a young tree will make competition for the tree, if the tree doesn’t get enough nutrients each year it will slowly decline and find it difficult to defend against pests and diseases.


Clean all your bird feeders and bird boxes. This is important to avoid the spread of disease.

Easter Weekend Sale

Make the most of the long Easter weekend and get into the garden. We’re celebrating Easter and the start of Autumn by having a sale all Easter weekend. Not to mention it’s our second year anniversary under new ownership! Come see the team and grab a bargain.

Easter weekend opening hours:

Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Monday open, 10am – 4pm

Saturday 26th open, 9am – 5pm.


Seed swap

We will be hosting a seed swap come September. We’re letting you know now so you have plenty of time to harvest those seeds of your prize winning pumpkin. Never heard of a seed swap? The clue’s in the name.

A seed swap is an event where people can swap seeds they have collected or have stored at the back of the cupboard. It is an opportunity for the community to come together, exchange knowledge and develop much needed bio-diversity.

What’s so good about a seed swap?

First of all, it’s free! If you’ve got seeds that is. Second, you get to talk to lot’s of lovely gardeners who understand how frustrating growing things can be and can swap tips to get the best tasting crops around. Third, you expand the biodiversity by continuing seeds that may not be commercially available in the country. Also if you collect seed locally over plant generations you will have plants that are more adapted to the local climate. You could even get plants that are unique to the area. Those are just a few examples.

What do you need to do to get involved?

Collect seeds! Of course. When collecting seeds make sure that they are dry and stored in a paper bag or glass jar. Label them with their age, what they are and a few tips on growing. You could also add where you collected them from, or if they are organic.

What will happen?

Come to the garden centre and donate your seed at the seed swap desk where it will be checked for label and seed quality. You will be given a sticker indicating if you’ve been a busy seed collector or not. You can still come if you haven’t collected lots or any seed just give a small coin donation. Once you’ve donated your seed, get swapping and chatting to your fellow gardeners. Any seeds left at the end will be donated to a local charity, school or organisation.

If you have lot’s of seed to swap and would like to have a table so you sit and chat to your fellow swappers let us know.

Dates are still to be confirmed until nearer the time and details are subject to change. If you have any questions or would like to get involved contact us at info@shotovergardencentre.co.nz

What to do in March

It’s planting time again! March brings cooler weather and rains, making it a great opportunity to get your garden planted before winter. Natives and evergreens need time to get established in the garden well before winter, whereas deciduous plants will be fine planted through winter – so long as the soil is well drained and workable. If you haven’t already, start preparing the veggie garden for winter and spring.

Flower Garden:

Bulbs are becoming available this month, but hold off planting them until temperatures have consistently dropped. The variability of the temperatures in Queenstown differ so much that it can cause bulbs to flower now instead of in spring.


Cold loving flowering plants can be planted now to give you flowers from autumn to spring. My favourites are violas, which are good performers in many conditions and just keep flowering. More flowers will be available as the cold weather really starts to set in.

Give roses a bit of a trim if they are tall and getting blown around in strong winds, this will reduce the risk of root rock. Root rock can happen if force on the top of a plant is strong enough to move and even break plant roots, it can kill plants.

Many flower seeds can be sown and collected now. Go exploring with a pen and a paper bag, give seedheads a shake into your hand if seeds fall freely they are ready to be collected. Shake them into the bag or take the whole seedhead, label and store in a cool, dry place. Depending on what they are lots of seeds can be sown directly, like Aquilegias, salvia and other hardy perennials.

Sweet peas can also be sown, but they will need to be stored in a cold frame over winter.


Get on and repair the patches in the lawn after a hard summer or sow a new one. It’s still warm enough to sow all types of lawn seed. You can still throw on a bit of lawn fertiliser but only a short lasting one such as the Shotover Lawn fertiliser. Even better give a topdress of rooster booster or dynamic lifter lawn food.

If you have had problems with grass grubs or you have patches spreading over your lawn, you may need to distribute some of Kiwicares Lawngard Granules.


Inspect plants planted earlier in the year to make sure they are still happy and healthy. You may need to adjust stakes or ties that are cutting into the plant.


Get ready for collecting those glorious autumn leaves to turn into leaf mulch. Use stakes and chicken wire to make a bin to hold the leaves which will compost down to leaf mulch. Leaf fall is a trees way of feeding itself. This is why it’s important to leave a layer of leaves underneath trees. However you can collect all those leaves that go astray onto paths and lawns, compost them and distribute as a nutrient rich topdressing the following year. You can also fill bags of hessian with leaves and then leave them tucked away in the garden somewhere. The leaves will compost inside them.

Fruit Garden:

Harvest apples and pears as they ripen, depending on variety some may be suitable to store all through winter. Leave windfall apples for the wildlife, they love apples and pears too but be careful of cats.

If you haven’t already, give the trees a potassium feed. It will top up used reserves of potassium and make them hardier to winter. Use a fish or seaweed fertiliser, like Seasol or kelp meal. You could even get adventurous and make a comfrey tea for free! (If you have comfrey).

Veggie garden:

Keep an eye on frosts as they’ll start sneaking up on us now. You may want to give your tomatoes and summer crops a cover to extend their season. Keep giving them potassium feed to keep them going until the very end.

Think about bringing in any tender herbs like lemongrass or basil to extend the season. Keep freezing and drying herbs for use through winter.

Lots of seedlings can be planted now for autumn and spring harvesting, especially if you missed the chance to sow them.  Plant spinach, pak choi and kale now for winter harvesting. Use cloche hoops to grow rocket, lettuce and silverbeet. Broccoli, cabbages and cauliflowers will be ready in spring if planted now.


You can still sow several types of seed. Sow; small rooted carrots, radish, pak choi, bok choi, cabbage, lettuce, salad leaves, turnip, broad beans.

There is still time to sow green manure if you have finished with a veggie bed for winter. You can sow, blue lupins, mustard, wheat, oats, peas or a mix. Green manure keeps the weeds at bay by out-competing them over winter, and you can dig them into the bed for added organic matter. They also add lots of nutrients back into the soil when they decompose. We have large bags of green manure seed available.

What to do in Feb

The heat goes on. February proves to be just as hot and dry as January which is ok if you’re a cactus, but most plants need water, so keep it up. If you’re not like most people and bathing in the sun then continue reading for a list of things to get on with this month.

Lots of flowers will finish flowering now. Remove spent flowers and give a high potassium feed like Tomorite and you’ll likely get another flush of flowers.

Stone fruit can be pruned after they have finished fruiting. They need relatively little pruning, looking to create a vase shape. Follow this link for pruning fruit trees. Pruning in summer minimises the risk of transferring silver leaf disease as it’s not as active this time of year. Remember to clean and sharpen secateurs in between each tree – a surgeon wouldn’t use a dirty scalpel.

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Summer fruiting raspberry canes can be pruned once they have finished fruiting. Cut fruited canes down to just above soil level. Old canes will be brown whereas new ones are green. Prune out any new weak spindly looking shoots at the same time. Pruning de-congests the plant encouraging new shoots which will carry next years fruit. Yum! Autumn fruiting raspberries will be getting ready to fruit soon. If you haven’t got one, go now and get one to get a full season from your raspberries. Check raspberries for a barrage of holes, you may have raspberry sawfly. A little spray of natural pyrethrum should fix this but make sure you get the back of the leaf, that’s where they chill.


Keep feeding fruiting vegetables with a liquid potassium feed to make the most of the rest of the growing season and the warm weather.

If you hadn’t noticed, trimming hedges stimulates a flush of growth. If you trim hedges now the consequential growth shouldn’t get burnt in early autumn frosts. Young new growth is always soft and tender, hardening as it matures. Cutting now means that the hedge will slow its growth into autumn and the growth that was spurred into action will harden, avoiding ugly burnt leaves.

Wasps can be a nuisance at the moment. If they have made an inconsiderate nest use Kiwicare’s wasp eliminator puff pack. Use wasp traps for entertaining areas or in trees.

Once your Lavender are finished flowering chop them back by a third to keep them nice and bushy. This will prevent them becoming woody.


Come learn about veggie gardening with Dr Compost at the garden centre on the 24th 6 – 8pm, he’ll tell you the best ways to maximise your veggie garden going into autumn and winter in the glorious Central Otago environment.

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What to do in January

Water Water Water! The lakes have been suffering from something of a drought for some weeks accompanied by strong winds. Any new plantings from spring will have needed to be watered throughout summer. Anyone who has gardened in the Lakes District will know it is no easy task – 2015 was a year of extremes in an extreme environment. These extremes make life difficult for plants that haven’t evolved to deal with them – most of the plants we like best. Signs of a plant weakened by the environment are pests and disease, more obviously as yellowing of leaves.

There is plenty we can do to make our plants healthier and more robust. In a nutshell make sure they are well watered, well fed and are in the right place.

When going away or if you are finding keeping the garden watered is a chore, set up a water smart irrigation system. Add a timer and you won’t even need to turn it on. Irrigation systems can be made for any situation, from a few pots to a garden centre. Let your irrigation system do the work while you enjoy the throes of summer.

If you haven’t fed your garden and you notice things are looking a little jaundiced, get some feed down. You may have fed your garden in spring but if it was a three month slow release fert it may be finished now, so a top up will be due. Triabon is great for pots and blood and bone is good for hedges and shrubs. Fish and seaweed are great for flowering plants. The vegetable garden is steaming through nutrients at this time of year, so give it a top up with a slow release fertiliser, and for fruiting and flowering plants feed every two weeks with a high potassium liquid feed such as Tomorite. No fruit or flowers yet? Boost growth with Powerfeed until you have some flowers, then use Tomorite.

Keep pruning Wisteria in summer. Prune all new shoots back to 20cm, leave the shoots you are training to become your woody framework. See how to prune Wisteria for a full guide on pruning Wisteria.

Feed houseplants with a liquid fertiliser once a week. They can even go outside, out of direct sunlight, to benefit from a bit of rainfall.

Keep deadheading roses to encourage further flowering of repeat and continuous flowering varieties. Carpet and hedging roses can be cut back after the first flush of flowers finish to keep them looking smart. Prune on dry fine days and keep your secateurs sharp. If you’re having trouble with pests or disease spray with a rose spray.

Thin heavy crops of apples, pears and plums. This will give you larger fruit, reduce the risk of fruit rot and minimise the risk of breaking valuable fruiting branches and spurs.

Peg down your strawberry runners for new strawberry plants that will fruit next year and you’ll never have to buy strawberries again.

Mites and scale insect are a problem over the dry period. Use a mineral oil like Conqueror oil and cover all the leaves. If you have a bad infestation on a large area use Confidor, a systemic insecticide which circulates in the plant and kills the bug when it feeds. While being more effective than other contact insecticides, Confidor is a strong chemical and a neonicotinoid, so be considerate using it especially on flowering plants. Aphids are easily controlled by pyrethrum or mineral oils.

Hydrangeas are flowering their socks off now. Before buying that tempting blue hydrangea test the pH of your soil. A low pH will keep your hydrangea blue but a high pH will turn it pink. If your hydrangeas are white or green you don’t have to worry. It’s easier to plant your hydrangea in the right place than trying to change the pH of the soil. Easy pH meters are cheap and available, you will get a reading within seconds.

Raise the height of lawn mower blades. Longer lawns are more drought tolerant than those mown short. No amount of lawn feed will make up for a lack of water.

Sow vegetable seeds now, including endive, lettuce and salad leaves, beetroot, radishes, spring cabbages, kohl rabi, Swiss chard, winter spinach, Oriental greens, chicory, spring onions, swede, and turnips for green tops.

2016 Orders

Now is the perfect time to get orders in for that tree or rose you’ve always wanted. We are currently taking orders for trees and roses to be delivered in winter. These can be bareroot if required but will need to be collected as soon as they arrive, it’s usually snowing around this time so we like to get the roots in the ground as soon as possible.

Catalogues are available for your perusal in store but unfortunately we have no digital availability lists.

Email orders to info@shotovergardencentre.co.nz, call us or pop in to see us.


THANK-YOU to all our customers that supported us this year, even though at times it was quite difficult to access us!!
Wishing you all a VERY MERRY XMAS!!!   Open till 2pm XMAS EVE..

What to do in November

We’ve had a cold start to the season across the country. We are approximately three weeks behind the normal growing season. Fingers crossed there is no more snow to come. Although we can’t be so certain about the frost so keep everything undercover for a little while longer. Cloches and greenhouses are almost essential to get a good crop of capsicums or chillies and to get your tomatoes to ripen. November is all about getting everything set up for summer so you can do a bit more of relaxing in the garden.


Get your melons, pumpkins and squashes in this month as they need a good long hot season to produce a good harvest. When planting cover with a polythene cover to protect from cold nights and possible frosts, they will also get their roots in quicker. Extend the growing season by planting in the hottest place in the garden or by a wall which will radiate heat. Make sure you give them lots of space and good drainage. Courgettes also respond well to being under polythene until the weather is a little warmer. Give them a moisture retentive compost as they’ll need lots of water when fruiting.

If you haven’t already start trimming hedges to keep them in check. Trimming regularly makes keeping your hedging in size much easier rather than letting your hedge get huge and having to chop lots back. If this happens you will expose the woody insides of the hedge, this will green up in time but a little trimming twice a year means that this will not happen. If you are growing a new hedge hold off trimming it until it’s at the desired height you want it. When its above the height you want chop it back to the desired height. This will encourage the plant to bush out. When the laterals have grown passed your desired width trim those and eventually you’ll have a lovely bushy hedge. When trimming the hedge make it into an A shape, so that the bottom of the hedge will get light. Don’t neglect your hedge, keep improving the soil around the hedge by adding well-rotted manure, compost or other organic matter. You can give it a slow release fertiliser in spring if it is looking sorry for itself.


Get the mulch on the garden before the start of the hot weather. Mulch is a process not a product so many things can be termed as mulch. Some of the most popular being pea straw and bark or woodchip. Straw comes to an end towards the beginning of summer as stores from last years summer harvest are depleted. Getting it early and keeping it stored until you need in for the gap in summer is a good idea. Mulching is great for keeping weeds down too, if you don’t cover your ground in some way you will have weeds. In my opinion the best mulch is a green mulch, in other words ground cover plants. There is a vast selection of ground cover plants that have many benefits for the soil and ecology. Plus once they are in you’ll never have to buy mulch again. Although this doesn’t work for veggie beds.


We’ve had lot’s of reports of aphids and thrips. Aphids are easy to eradicate with a pyrethrum spray or an organic oil spray. However they are a very common insect that can fly and travel on the wind which then breed live young when on a plant. So infestations are very common each year. Aphids are one of natures way of providing natural selection and mostly prey on weaker plants. If you have plants with aphids it’s safe to say the plant has been stressed at some point so spray but also give the plant a feed. Also have a look to see if your soil needs improving or the plant is also in the right place. If the plants are in pots make sure they are getting enough water.aphidLarva

It’s time for summer bedding! Plant punnets of summer bedding to make a colourful display in pots or flower beds. Summer annuals are thirsty, hungry and heat loving plants. Put them in a hot place in potting mix or compost with added osmocote fertiliser. When planting in pots or hanging baskets add water crystals to the mix to increase the water holding capacity. My favourites are geraniums for bold displays, cosmos for filling borders and calendula for in the veggie garden.


Pheremone traps are being hung in apple trees now. Pheremone traps are a good indicator of when adult codling moths are starting to become active. This can give you an idea of the precautions you need to make to protect your crop. If you only have a few trees an effective protection is putting the apples in mesh bags. You can spray the trees but to get a decent control you would need to spray regularly or with a strong chemical all before the caterpillars get to the fruit. When they are in the fruit they are protected. Other measures are wrapping sticky bands or corrugated cardboard around the trunk in summer for removal in winter or let your chicken go free range around your fruit trees in winter.

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For a top lawn ready for summer, give it a spray with weed and feed. If you have tougher weeds use a hydrocotyle or prickle spray weedkiller. In periods of drought, raise the height of the blade in your mower. Longer blades of grass are more drought tolerant than a shorter mown grass. Saving you time and water when watering your lawn. If you don’t want a lawn that needs mowing all the time hold off on the high nitrogen lawn fertilisers in summer and give the lawn a spray of seasol which will green the lawn without growth.

There’s lots lots more than can be done in the garden. If you have any other garden projects or questions don’t hesitate to come and see us or contact us. Our main aim is to make your garden healthy and beautiful. Enjoy the warm weather to come and ready your mint plants for all those mojitos.

Garden Problems Q + A with a Kiwicare expert

Got a problem with a pest or disease that you can’t quite get rid of? Or you’d like to learn more about what’s in your favourite kiwicare product and how it works.

Kiwicare’s technical manager David Brittain is going to be in store with us on Friday 6th of November from 9am to 11am. David has extensive knowledge and experience from his many years of working in the horticultural industry.

Get your problems solved! Bring in a photo of your problem plant, you can bring a cutting in too which helps. David will tell you what it is and how to solve it.


Kiwicare is a NZ based company producing products that are designed for New Zealand gardens. Kiwicare offer a guarantee on all their products, if you are not happy with a product they will honour their guarantee.


Friday 6th November 9am -11am