What to Plant in October

The following is a list of vegetables and herbs you can plant in October in Sydney, a temperate zone. Just click on the name for the growing guide for each vegetable or herb:

Plant of the Month –  the drought hardy – Cistus salviifolius –  (sage leaf rock rose, gallipoli rose)

IMG_20200927_115003-Cistus salvifolius

(Click the images on the post to enlarge and appreciate the detail of the lovely blooms, buds and leaves)

Cistus salviifolius is native through the Mediterranean Sea basin both throughout southern Europe, east to Turkey and North Africa in Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

The genus name Cistus is from the Ancient Greek word κίσθος (kisthos)  which was the name originally used to describe the plant in ancient Greece. The species name salviifolius refers the wrinkled leaves similar to those of the sage.

The plant is a low spreading, evergreen, bushy shrub of about 30–60 cm in height, and a width of 100 cm.  It flowers in spring through summer with exquisite blooms 3.8cm wide white that have orange yellow stamens in the center and a yellow spot at the base of each petal. The flowers are profuse (see image at the end) and each flower opens in the morning and dies at the end of the day to be replaced with others the next day. The flowers grow singly or in groups of four. The detail of the profusion of buds and leaves can be viewed clicking in the following image:IMG_20200930_173028-Cistus salviifolius buds

Cistus salviifolius is cultivated in the nursery industry, and grown in gardens and public landscapes, often for its drought tolerance and its attractiveness to pollinators like bees and butterflies.  The flowers have a faint perfume.

The plant has a long establishment stage and does not flower before the second year ( I have planted it in June last year and haveseen the first flush of flowers this following September. It was well worth the wait).

Cistus salviifolius grows best in a sunny position.  It cannot grow in the shade. Allow for its spread and consider adjacent plants that may out compete with it for light and cast shade over it.

Choose a location with a coarse, loose, well-drained light, sandy soil. Surprisingly, the plant is hardier in nutritionally poor soil. It prefers a soil pH range of acid, neutral and basic (alkaline).

Established plants are very drought tolerant. Water them during their first growing season when roots are establishing.  Mature plants don’t need pesticides, need little or no watering, or fertilizers. In fact, it is best to keep them dry as overwatering will increase the chance of die back and straggly growth. Overall the Cistus salviifolius is an easy-to-maintain plant. It is a great plant for ground cover and for sloping sites and is stunning as a mass planting. 

Prune only lightly as it does resent heavy pruning. For a bushier form is just pinch back after flowering and before new growth.

Cistus salviifolius has a life span of about 8-10 years.

Propagate by seed that sets in summer and by softwood cuttings.  Take the cuttings from soft to half-ripe wood, 8cm long with a heel or at a node in summer. Roots will form in 3 weeks.  Take cuttings from almost mature wood, 8 – 12cm with a heel or at a node in autumn. Pot up in the spring, plant out when a good root system has formed.

Click to enlarge and view the flower clusters in the image following:

cistus-salvifolius-5039272_1920

The Cistus salviifolium plant has a dome shaped growthhabit, smothered in the delicate white flowers that continue to bloom through spring and summer.

Cistus_salviifolius_5

Image:  ©ghislain118 http://www.fleurs-des-montagnes.net

The outstanding feature of the beautiful Cistus salviifolius is that it is a tough and durable plant adapted to sunny exposures, prefering good drainage, hardier in nutritionally poor soils and growing with low amounts of supplemental water. This makes it an outstanding plant for our harsh, hot conditions and the growing scarcity of water. Look out for it and make a place for it in your garden.

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