Want to add a hint of the Mediterranean to your garden? It may seem unlikely in the UK, but there are hardy plants that look like they belong in southern Italy. They can cope well in UK gardens given the right amount of attention and planted in the right place. Follow the tips below and watch your Mediterranean flowers and trees thrive.
You can sow seeds of Mediterranean perennials and shrubs direct in the ground in autumn or spring when the ground is still warm or warming up. Site is all important, so choose a bed or container that enjoys full sun.
When planting a tree suited to Mediterranean climates, you have to consider where to position it. Mediterranean trees such as palms, olives and eucalyptus require full sun to thrive.
If this isn’t possible in the garden, why not consider planting in a large pot that you can position into a sunny site in summer such as a south-facing patio or balcony and that you can transport indoors in the winter when the weather goes cold.
It’s worth noting that Mediterranean Trees and Plants can cope with a degree of cold and even short spells of frost. However they hate the dreaded combination of cold and wet weather, which alas, our winters often throw at us. This make a portable container all the more appealing.
If you do have a sunny spot in the garden that is well –sheltered follow these instructions when planting;
Dig a hole some 6in wider than the spread out root system and to a depth whereby the soil mark from the nursery on the stem of the young tree will be just covered.
N .B. With Mediterranean trees, a site that enjoys full sun is all important. However they can tolerate relatively poor soils (think of the sun-baked shallow and sandy soils of the Mediterranean.) so a chalky or clay-based soil is not the end of the world.
If you use a tree stake it should be banged in, before the tree is planted.
After placing the tree in the hole, spread out the roots and add layers of soil, firming down with your foot or an old log. The final layer should not be firmed however, as it could shed water away from the tree.
TOP TIP! There are many purpose-made ties on the market, but a pair of ladies tights is also ideal. Tie them around the tree and the stake in a figure of eight, thus forming a buffer. Don't forget to check the tie once a year in case it is girdling the tree.
Caring for Mediterranean Trees and Plants
Make sure that you give your Mediterranean tree or plants a once-over glance each day. If you notice yellowing leaves, a lack of growth or mouldy patches forming on the leaves it is most likely to be suffering from where it’s been planted. You can try to treat the symptoms, but if you want to get to the cause, you might want to think about re-planting to a more suitable site or into a portable container.
Yellowing leaves probably signify that the tree is deficient in a nutrient, or indeed sun. Although you can’t well resolve the latter situation, you can add some general fertiliser to give it a boost.
In winter, bring the Mediterranean tree indoors at night if in a container or, if in a permanent position, cover with a protective fleece. This will be to keep the rain / show off rather than the cold.
If you notice signs of black mould appearing on the leaves, it’s worth treating the tree to fungicide. However, this is likely to treat the symptom rather than the cause.
Watering Mediterranean Trees and Plants
The general rule of thumb is to water well in the morning and evening during summer. The plants will be transpiring at a fast rate losing water, especially if it’s sunny and windy, and a regular top up of water will be greatly appreciated.
In winter do not water Mediterranean trees in the ground at all. In dry weather you can water in the morning and mist the plants using a demister. If you water too eagerly the roots of Mediterranean trees are prone to rotting.
Feeding Mediterranean Plants
This is normally not necessary as trees growing naturally in Mediterranean climates are used to coping with poor soils and roots will search for nutrients efficiently. However if your Mediterranean trees are in containers feeding may be necessary as there is only a limited amount of soil. Feed when in active growth.
Siting Mediterranean Plants
Full sun is paramount for plants that originate from Mediterranean climates. This is the one thing you need to bear in mind when introducing these plants to your garden.
How to Prune Mediterranean Plants
Prune out dead, damaged and diseased stems only and stems that ruin the overall plant shape. For plants such as Cistus and Convolvulus dead-head flowers to encourage them to produce more and more each day.
Pests and Diseases of Mediterranean Plants - Cold weather, Scale insect, Honey fungus, Verticillium wilt