Glam up gran’s garden

If you’re fortunate enough to still have your grandparents around, what a blessing! Now it’s our turn to bless them back by livening up their gardens, patios, and indoor spaces with some low-maintenance lovelies. Life is a Garden has made a list of top plants that will forgive a little forgetting, and promise to add freshness and beauty to your beloved ouma and oupa’s home. 

Make outdoors EASIER 

If your grandparents have been living in their home for many years, their garden is likely high-maintenance and possibly a tad out of date. Get the family involved to help ease the burden by removing water- and time-demanding plants and replacing them with our suggestions below. Remember to bring extra pots on green-ovation day so that the family can re-home all the removed plants, adding a sweet touch of sentimentality to their own gardens.

Waterwise, evergreen, indigenous plant picks for big beds

Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata): quick-spreading shrub, pest-resistant but attracts pollinators, pretty blooms year-round, fertilise in spring, full sun to semi-shade.

  1. Bird of paradise (Strelitzia spp.): large growth, dramatic tropical-looking flowers, attracts birds, hard frost sensitive, fertilise in spring, ideal for morning sun to semi-shade.
  2. Confetti bush (Coleonema pulchellum): aromatic leaves with masses of starry pink blooms in winter and spring, attracts pollinators, coastal thriver, good cut-flower/foliage, full sun.

Top simplifying tip: Ask the staff at your GCA Garden Centre for more easy plant recommendations that are specifically suited to your region. If you are unsure about the maintenance demands of existing plants in gran’s garden, take a photo of it and share them with our experts for advice: Seasonal Gardening.

Make the patio EFFORTLESS 

We are lucky to still enjoy some balmy afternoons on the stoep or balcony. Make tending to containers kinder to backs and knees by raising all pots (with bricks or pallets, for example) and re-potting to higher elevations where possible. Also, reduce the number of smaller containers and rather go for fewer, larger pots to minimise watering efforts. Consider these three easy trees in bold containers.

Non-toxic trees for an evergreen winter on the patio 

Money tree (Pachira aquatica): symbol of luck and prosperity, striking braided stems (most of them), glossy leaves, likes bright but indirect light, ideal in the sunroom too.

  1. Areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens): stunning feathery arching fronds, long life span, needs a bottle dripper, bigger pots = bigger plants, bright but indirect light.
  2. Broadleaf lady palm (Rhapis Excelsa): dense growth habit, elegant fanned green foliage, statement-making and modern, slow growing, can tolerate low light but likes it bright.

Top forgetful tip: Support ouma and oupa even more by DIY-ing a few simple self-watering hacks for their indoor and patio plants. Check out this article discussing upcycled, cost-effective ways to help plants self-parent using plastic bottle drippers and string watering: Self Parenting Plants

Make indoors ELEMENTARY 

As we approach winter, indoor plants can make all the difference in uplifting those gloomy days. If your elderly loved ones are not as mobile or don’t have an outdoor garden, you can easily bring the beauty to them! Try raising and grouping multiple indoor pots together to create a lush corner of life. Windowsills and bookshelves are ideal spaces, as well as old lazy Susan’s in need of a new job. Don’t forget to read the self-watering article above and purchase smaller water cans that are light and easy to carry.

Non-toxic, forget-me-friendly indoor plants 

Cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior): resilient to drought and pests, low-light tolerance, lovely arching leaves, blooms in spring and summer when grown in good light, keep indoors.

  1. Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura): stunning bright foliage with arching red veins, folds up like praying hands at night, good for bathrooms with DIY dripper, bright indirect light.
  2. Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum): a tough cookie, produces sweet little spiderettes that dangle down from mom, vibrant leaves, can tolerate a variety of light conditions.

Top fertilising tip: Go for multi-purpose, slow-release fertilisers that benefit a wide range of plants (as opposed to buying multiple products). When visiting gran in spring, simply give all containers and beds a dose without the worry that roots may get burnt or essential pollinators harmed.

In general, winter is a good time for transplanting as plants have time to settle in before their spring and summer shows. Remember to ask your GCA Garden Centre advisor to recommend which plants are best suited for your region and season. Enjoy the family gardening time and the fulfilment of helping gran and gramps to glam up and scale down. Life is a Garden – let’s honour the ones who sowed the seeds!

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