What to plant in May

The following is a list of vegetables that you can plant in May in Sydney, a temperate zone (just click on the link for the growing guide for each vegetable):

Beans – broad beans
Brussels sprouts seedlings
Cabbage seedlings
Cauliflower seedlings
Kale seedlings
Leeks seedlings
Mustard greens
Pak Choy
Snow Peas

Plant of the Month – The lovely Crowea exalata (Native wax flower)

The beautiful and delicate waxy star shaped flowers of Crowea exalata.

(click on any image to see more detail)

Crowea exalata, is a small, compact evergreen flowering shrub common to the states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria in Australia, found on the ranges and the rocky slopes on the western side and along the eastern coast.

The genus Crowea is in the family Rutaceae along with Eriostemon, Philotheca and Boronia.

Crowea grows in sandy soil in dry sclerophyll forests, (a type of vegetation that is adapted to long periods of dryness).

This attractive small shrub is suitable for any garden, growing to a height of about 1 metre. With its slender, slightly hairy branchlets of bright green foliage and masses of flowers, its mature rounded form can reach a width of up to 1m if the conditions are suitable. There are also hybrid dwarf forms available.

This Crowea exalata is growing under taller shrubs in leaf litter.

Its leaves are narrow and oblong, 0.5-5.0cm long and 1.0–6.0mm wide. They have many oil glands and are scented when crushed.

Note the buds all along the branches at the leaf axils and lovely dark green leaves.

Crowea exalata flowers profusely mainly from mid-summer to late winter but usually has some flowers at other times of the year.

The waxy pink flowers appear at the leaf axils along the branchlets and at their ends. They are on a stalk 2–4 mm long fleshy at the top, with sepals 2-2.5cm long that are slightly hairy. The flowers are usually bright pink but white cultivars also exist.

The Crowea exalata flowers have five petals that are ovate, broadest at the centre and about 10 mm long. The stamens in the centre of the flower are broad and almost overlap forming a protective barrier around the nectary. Their pointed ends are spreading with their pollen laden frilly anthers on top.

The flowers are long lived, with petals remaining on the plant even after pollination.

Detail of the waxy petals of the Crowea exalata flower and the overlapping stamens with their frilly pollen laden anthers.

Crowea exalata prefers a well drained position with a rich soil that has a pH of 5.0-7.0. Once matured it is hardy and will tolerate droughts and light frosts.

This plant is adaptable to many soils or environments. Locate it under the canopy of other trees in part sun, part shade or even full shade. Although preferring dappled light, Crowea exalata also grows well in full sun with a layer of mulch to retain moisture on hot days. Cover the soil around the plant with up to 10 cm of well rotted compost or a good mulch of organic material keeping it clear of the stem.

Crowea exalata is a lovely compact shrub that is a burst of colour in late autumn and winter so choose it for your rockery or the under storey to taller plants.

It is also perfect for pots on your verandah. Use a potting mix specifically formulated for native plants and feed with low phosphorus fertilisers which can be applied after the plants have flowered.

A light pruning after flowering will ensure a spectacular flowering display in the following season.

Do consider this hardy native for your garden.

In the wild it is a protected plant.

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