This is the first day of winter and this is the first planting guide of the season. The following is a list of vegetables that you can plant in June in Sydney, a temperate zone (just click on the link for the growing guide for each vegetable).
- Cabbage seedlings
- Kale seedlings
- Mustard greens
- Snow Peas
- Strawberry plants
Plant of the Month – The lush Ligularia reniformis –(Tractor seat plant )
Ligularia reniformis, known also known as the tractor seat plant, due it’s enormous glossy leaves that perfectly resemble an old fashioned tractor seat, is a lush evergreen perennial.
It has a mounding habit, with is large leaves growing in rosettes up to 1m tall and 1m wide.
Each glossy, dark leaf grows up to 45 cm across and is adapted to the light conditions in which it grows, developing to a darker green and growing larger in shady conditions.
In the summer long upright stems bear clusters of attractive, yellow daisy like flowers that contrast beautifully with the dark green leaves.
Each flower is actually a composite flower that is made up of a flattened disc of compressed inflorescences. These are individual tubular florets of inconspicuous fused petals. From each floret protrudes the anther cylinder with the bilobed stigmas at the top of the styles that you can see in the picture below. The ray flowers at the edges have a petal-like extension called a ligule radiating around the central floral disc.
The advantage to the plant of having clusters of these composite flowers is that a single visiting insect can pollinate several flowers in a single visit. Below is an enlargement that shows the inflorescences in detail. Click on the picture above showing the cluster of flowers for more detail of the composition of the flowers.
Ligularia reniformis grows best under a tree canopy in a shade to part-shade position protected from the afternoon sun and strong winds. It looks stunning mass planted.
The soil should be free draining and rich in organic humus. The moisture needs of the Ligularia reniformis makes the choice of the growing site and the soil’s moisture retention qualities most important for successful growth.
The tractor seat plant needs to be kept moist, so a layer of mulch around the base of the plant will help to retain moisture during hot, dry weather. The plants have a deep root system so water deeply as the plants do not like to dry out.
In hot weather the plant will need to be supplemented with water to stop the leaves wilting.
Ligularia remifornis can be propagated by dividing the clump in mid to late spring and replanting.
The beautiful tractor plant is so stunning that when walking around a plant nursery recently I just had to stop and admire the striking leaves and lovely flower stems of this plant. If you have a lovely spot under a canopy with shade or dapple shade, and moist, well draining rich soil, then this is the perfect plant to attract the attention of any visitor to your garden.
One final note is that the leaves of the Liguaria remiformis is also attractive to snails and slugs so do put animal friendly baits around your plant to protect the leaves from damage.