Saturday, 20 October 2018

Expert Hedging, Rosella Tea and Tropical Flowers

What’s on the show today?

Expert hedging tips in Tool Time, sharp and tart, sweetness you can grow in Vegetable Heroes. Part 2 of gardening in tight spaces in Design Elements, and flowers that hate the cool-room in the Talking Flowers segment with Mercedes.


Expert Hedging
Chances are you have a hedge in your garden, maybe to hide the back fence or just for show.
Hedges come in sizes and shapes and even vary in the colour of their leaves.

Chosen carefully hedges don’t need that much maintenance in the form of pruning or clipping or even disease control.
Perhaps you’ve let it go over the years, and now it’s that bit too high to manage easily making you dread having to tackle it.
Let’s find out how to get the hedge back into shape.
I'm talking with Tony Mattson General Manager of

Today’s episode was all about bringing that 3-4 metre high hedge back to a more manageable height, starting with the top first and only lightly pruning the front.
Tony's expert hedger, Simon was tackling a lilly pilly, Acmena smithii minor "Goodbye Neighbour," and Murraya.
Plumbago and Muehlenbeckia hedge
Recommendation:Simon's recommendation was to hard prune hedges only in March-April, and August-September.
Each time you
You will need to use long handled (1.2m shears) as well as normal sized hedge shears.
Also, a pair of secateurs to cuts some of the thicker stems that are too hard for the hedge shears.
BIG TIP: cut or trim the hedge back, do it in stages, that is , a bit deeper each prune, otherwise you risk losing the hedge or getting a lot of dieback. 
You might start off with cutting the top back 1/2 metre in the first stage, wait a month, then come back and cut a bit deeper .
At this point, only lightly prune the front of the hedge 5-8 cm leaving lots of new growth.

If you have any questions about hedge pruning either for me or for Tony why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Rosella (or sometimes known as Roselle plant.)
Botanically-Hibiscus sabdariffa.
Being a hibiscus it belongs to the Malvaceae family of plants that mostly come from tropical Africa.
Did you know that in 1892, there were 2 factories producing rosella jam in Queensland, Australia, and they were even exporting big quantities to Europe? Didn’t last though finishing up around the early 1900’s
Where does it grow in Australia?
Rosella grows in a wide variety of climates because it’s very adaptable, possibly weedy even.
It grows especially well in dry climates right through to tropical climates.
The only drawback is that the growing season is 5 months, so you need to start this weekend.
Why grow Rosella plants?
Well the Rosella plant looks nice with its green leaves that have red stems and red veins and the flowers are deep pink hibiscus like; but the fleshy red calyx-about the size of a shot glass is the part underneath the flower.
Rosella calyx
This calyx is excellent in making jams, sauces, cordials, in fact it’s the main ingredient in a herbal tea called Red Zinger.
Botanical Bite:If you were wondering what a calyx is (calyces-plural),  its just the collection of sepals behind the petals of a flower.
Sepals in most flowering plants are leafy and green, that make up the outer protective covering of a flower bud. Think of a rosebud as an example.
Germinating Rosella Seeds
Rosella seed is a little hard to find unless you look in seed saver networks, or organic growers, certainly you’ll find them at organic markets where there is a seed stand.
Nurseries will have seedlings in late spring early summer if they carry unusual plants.
Seeds remain viable for a good long time but soak the small hard triangular seeds in warm water to help speed up germination.

Don’t drown them, just a saucer of water overnight will do.
Rosellas need a very warm soil to germinate, preferably over 25°C.
In tropical areas, they sow the Rosella seed in early spring.
In the Northern Territory the seed is sown during the early wet season as Rosella is a long day-length plant and needs 12–12 ½ hours of daylight to flower.
In NSW areas and more southern areas of Australia this would be as late as October early November outside.
Some years the soil might take even longer to warm up.
So gardeners in cooler areas need to start seed indoors using a small bottom-heat unit, or the top of the water heater.
Cover the seed with 12mm of fine soil or seed raising mix.
Rosella plants begin to crop when they’re 3 months old.
I’ve read that 3-4 plants will give you enough fruit to make jam or tea, but I’m not sure how much jam and tea that might be, so you could trial it with just a couple of plants because they take a bit of room.
Where to Put It?
Too much for the veggie garden so go for the flower bed or flower pot.
Now it grows to 1 ½  metres so a big pot will be good.
There is more than one flush of seed pods, but the trick is to remove the first flush because the second is much bigger and better..

When to harvest?
You’ll know the Rosella bud is ready when it easily come away from the bush, usually 3 weeks after the flowers have finished when the pod is 2-3 cms across.
Keep them well watered but it must drain away reasonably quickly because
Tip: Rosella plants are prone to root rot
Roselle plants are weedy in the Northern Territory and Western Australia-but aren’t a problem anywhere else.
If you are going to go for growing this plant, here’s a tip:
When the fruits are about the size of a walnut, about 20 days after flowering, you need to separate the seeds from the inflated and ripened outer fleshy casings or the calyces- or fleshy part.
The best way to prepare Rosella fruit is firstly by washing it, then making an incision around the tough base of the calyx below the bracts to free and remove it with the seed capsule attached.
The calyces are then ready to be used in jams or teas or whatever.
 They may even be chopped and added to fruit salads.
Use an apple corer-from kitchen shops.
By the way the young shoots and leaves can be eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable.
To make Rosella tea-

The dried red calyx is used for tea and it is an important ingredient in the commercial Red Zinger, Hibiscus and Fruit teas.
The tea is very similar in flavour to rose hips and high in vitamin C.
To make it, strip off the red calyx (the fleshy cover surrounding the seed pod) and dry it in a solar drier or a slow oven until crisp.
Only two small pieces are needed per cup.
Try mixing it with dried lemongrass or lemon verbena and dried organic orange peel  for a wonderful herb tea that is also good chilled.
If you want to make Roselle jam or cordial, go to my website for the link to the recipes.
Why is it good for you?
Rosella hips contain a very good source of Vitamin C, and is rich in Calcium and Magnesium. vitamin A, and amino acids.
Also Rosella is rich in anthocyanins , essential minerals and vitamins.
Roselle is very low in Cholesterol and Sodium, and is a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamins B1 and B2, Niacin, Iron and Potassium.
Anthocyanins are water-soluble flavonoid pigments, which are responsible for the red, blue and purple colours in many fruits and vegetables.
If you have any questions about Roselle, JUST EMAIL ME

Gardening in Tight Spaces part 2:
Eco Pillows, grow baskets, and vertical gardens turned on their side.

Tired of hearing about green walls because
a) you think they’re too expensive,

b) sounds too hard to maintain or

c) you’re just not into green walls.

So what else can you have that’s much cheaper, easier to put up and more of what you want?

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer and director of Paradisus garden design.

Let’s find out more. If you want a more relaxed style of vertical planting then go for these vertical grow baskets.
In them you can put in plants with pendulous foliage such as:
  • rhipsalis, 
  • aeschynanthus, anything from the 
  • gesneriad family, such as
  • nematanthus, 
  • columnias, and gloxinia sylvatica or whatever you like really.
Nematanthus: Goldfish plant
Of course we did mention that green wall again but this time put it on its side then there’s those eco-pillows.If you have any questions about gardening in tight spaces or have a suggestion either for me or for Peter why not write in or email me at  


How to care for Tropical and Exotic flowers.
So, what does your florist do to keep their flowers in such fantastic shape?
For every florist, no matter where they are in the world, keeping flowers at just the right temperature is essential. 
Frangipani flowers photo M Cannon
That’s what makes their refrigerator(s) the most important piece of equipment. 
A small flower shop might have just one fridge in the back of the shop whereas larger florists will have larger, walk in fridges and their premises might resemble more of a warehouse design. 
Small flower shops usually place just a few bouquets on display in the front on the shop while the rest of their flowers are safely stored in temperatures ranging from 50 to 120 C.
This is what a commercial cut flower grower in FNQ recommends. 
Cut Flower Care
Chandelier Orchid photo: M Cannon
  • Never refrigerate tropical’ s they should NOT be stored below 13 degrees.
  • Tropical’ s like tempered conditions.
  • Keep Tropical’ s away from direct heating and air-conditioners units.
  • Drastic changes in temperature burns fresh cut flowers.
  • When handling exotic tropical flowers keep in mind that cold weather can affect them, keep your exotic tropical flowers in a relative warm area.
  • To get the best out of your Tropical flowers after you unpack them you can submerse them in a bath tub or a large bucket/bin for 20 mins with tempered water NOT ice cold tap water to re hydrate them from travelling.
  • Re-cut stems at least 2 to 4 cm with sharp secateurs.
  • Preservative is optional.
  • Replace water every day – these large flowers are thirsty.
  • Misting is recommended once or twice a day as they like high humidity.
I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini from
Recorded live during the studio broadcast of Real World Gardener Show on 2rrr, 88.5 fm Sydney.

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