logo left
The Queensland Gardening Pages
Information & resources about plants & gardens for Brisbane & Qld
logo right

WELCOME to Queensland's gateway to gardening - a collection of news, information, resources and ideas of interest to gardeners, especially residents of Queensland, Australia

News for Gardeners

News about plants and gardens in Queensland, plus other interesting horticultural news from around the world.

Into Horticulture Issue 18 online now

This online newsletter is aimed at the expert amateur gardener plus professionals in the nursery and garden industry, especially in Queensland. View the latest online edition here: Into Horticulture - Issue 18. To find out how to subscribe to the email edition (it's free!) or view archived online editions, go to Newsletters.

Plants need iron to make Vit A

A new plant enzyme critical to Vitamin A production by plants has been discovered. What's more, it's dependant a form of iron similar to that found in red blood cells. Source: Researchers discover new enzyme, link to iron in vitamin A synthesis (June 2015). In addition to the many implications this has for the study of vitamin synthesis and heme biochemistry, this indicates the way that soil nutrients can have many roles in plants. Iron doesn't simply just make leaves greener.

The rhythm of floral fragrance

An ordinary garden petunia, which releases its scent at night to attract pollinators such as months has been used to study the timing of fragrance. The LHY gene, which is associated with the circadian clock in many plants, was found to be active in the morning, regulating scent production through a suppressive effect. Scientists are now studying how pollinators respond to plants with and without altered LHY genes with a view to improving the pollination efficiency of crop species. Source: Researchers discover how petunias know when to smell good (June 2015)

Cucmber gender in the DNA

The genetic variation that causes some cucumber varieties to produce all-female flowers has been identified as a duplication of a particular piece of DNA. These "gyneoecious" plants are valued in horticulture because of their high yields (if conditions are good enough to support them), although pollination from a male flower is still required. Source: Extra DNA creates cucumber with all-female flowers (June 2015)

Path to rose fragrance takes unexpected turn

Researchers studying the biochemistry of rose fragrance has found that fragrance in all plants is not produced by enzymes called terpene synthases. Comparison of the cultivars Papa Meilland (highly scented) and Rouge Meilland (low scent) allowed them to identify RhNUDX1 in a different class of enzyme. Located in in the cytoplasm of rose petal cells it produces the primary part of rose oil, geraniol. This knowledge may be used in the future to help breed fragrance back into new rose varieties. Source: Unexpected enzyme may resurrect roses' fading scents (July 2015)

New Hervey Bay bushland has many benefits

Bushland is being re-created along the Link Mobility Corridor between Urraween Road and Bay Drive for beauty and environmental benefits. The more than 12,000 plants will help create a wildlife corridor linking to the Greig Dry Vine Forest in Stirling Drive and improve water quality in Eli creeek while reducing the need for mowing. Many of the plants have come from local seed collected by volunteers in Fraser Coast Regional Council's Community Environment Program. Source: Corridor to be shaded by regenerated bush (June 2015)

New works for Mt Coot-tha

Brisbane City Council has allocated funds toward a new visitor centre and other refurbishments at the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens and Mt Coot-tha Reserve. "The new centre will provide a more formal entrance and dedicated facilities for the Volunteer Guides, with a gift shop, to provide a fitting welcome to Queensland's premier botanic gardens." Part of the $3.4 million construction cost will come from a $700,000 donation from a Brisbane resident. Source: LM delivers $6m boost to Mt Coot-tha precinct (June 2015)

Water returns to Brisbane fountains

Brisbane City Council have allocated funds to restoring water to fountains in EE McCormick Place in Upper Roma Street, Emma Miller Place in Roma Street and Mooney Memorial Fountain at Queen and Eagle Streets. They had been decommissioned in response to drought conditions. The Lord Mayor also wants a new water feature somewhere in the CBD. Source: LM to bring back fountains and beautify Brisbane (June 2015)

Flies outperform bees in mango pollination

A study of pollinators visiting mango flowers in the Mareeba region of Queensland has shown that native flies are more important than bees. Overall, 44 different insects were observed. When it came to amount of pollen transferred to a single mango flower, a native bee and several fly species were more effective than the honeybee. It is hoped that effects on mango crop yield can be investigated in future work. Source: Native flies leading the charge to help pollinate mango trees in new UNE study (June 2015)

Kershaw comes back after Marcia

Rockhampton's Kershaw Gardens are in the process of recovering after Cyclone Marcia. In May, the waterfall was turned back on for the first time, and fallen trees have been converted into some 3000 cubic metres of mulch so far. However, it is possible that rubbish may have contaminated the site. Soil testing underway will help managers determine which parts of the Gardens can be reopened to the public and which must be remediated. Sources: Kershaw Gardens waterfall marks recovery milestone, Council continues to clear, salvage and make safe (June, 2015)

Change of name for SGAP Qld

The Society for Growing Australian Plants Queensland Region, Inc. (SGAP Qld) has a new trading name: Native Plants Queensland. However, information and contacts can still be accessed (at least for now) via the old website address www.sgapqld.org.au.

Tree vandal brings tools

Public trees along the at Pialba (Hervey Bay) have been vandalised in a premeditated attack involving a saw. Lower limbs and hanging roots of figs along the Seafront Oval Esplanade were cut and six Coastal She Oaks on the dunes were cut down. The cut material was then hidden in hollows among the dunes. Anyone with information about the crime should contact Fraser Coast Regional Council on 1300 79 49 29. Source: Seafront Oval trees vandalised (May 2015)

Butchulla People's garden interprets Fraser Coast environment

The Fraser Coast Cultural Centre has a new garden featuring plants traditional owners the Butchulla People used to mark the changing seasons across the Fraser Coast. Designed in cooperation with the Elders, the garden helps to explain how the Butchulla People's intimate knowledge of the environment helped them live in harmony with it. It is planned to continue to develop this area as a community space. Butchulla Season Garden opened (May 2015)

Bamboo popularity raises concern

The increasing popularity of bamboo for landscaping could have an unexpected consequence The phenomenon of bamboo mass flowering (also known as masting) leads to massive seed production, which can go on for 18 months. Consequently, booms in rodent populations have been observed in Asia and South America associated with these events. Now, there is a concern that widespread landscape planting of bamboo in North America could lead to population booms of deer mice which can carry a potentially fatal human disease. Recommendations include eradication of aggressive running bamboos on public land and evaluation of varieties' flowering abilities and seed palatability before import. Source: WSU ecologist warns of bamboo fueling spread of hantavirus (May, 2015)

Major new addition to Mt Coot-tha gardens open

A four hectare expansion to Brisbane's Botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha is complete and opening to the public. This is the largest addition to the gardens since they opened in 1970 and includes 31,000 new plants. New gardens areas represent various Queensland habitats and themes including bush foods, coastal plants and the Queensland Conservation Walk featuring more than 200 rare and endangered species. Star of the new additions is a 250 year old, 6.5m high cycad which originated near Injune in South West Queensland. Sources: Four hectare Botanic Gardens expansion opens to public, 250 year old tree forms centrepiece of gardens expansion (May 2015)

Veggies in urban soils - how dangerous?

A study measuring uptake of various pollutants suggests the risk of growing vegetables in contaminated urban soils may not be as high as previously thought. Root crops remain a slight concern but were considered a minor risk at normal levels of consumption. Good horticultural practices and thorough washing of produce is also helpful in reducing risk. Read more: Gardening in a polluted paradise (May, 2015)

Pollen makes another kind of seed

Pollen particles in the atmosphere were previously thought to be too large to nucleate clouds and that they would settle out too quickly, anyway. However, it's known that pollen grains can break up into fragments which cause allergenic responses in sensitive people. When the affect of moisture on pollen grains was tested, it was found that these can rupture readily into pieces small enough to seed clouds. So, it's possible that a tree's pollen could help make the rain that keeps that tree alive. Source: Pollen and clouds: April flowers bring May showers? (May, 2015)

Fighting plant disease with nanoparticles

Silver nanoparticles are an emerging new anti-fungal treatment for plants. Researchers in the USA have found that silver nanoparticles prepared with an extract of wormwood (Artemisia sp.) are effective against Phytophthora. They say that it works on all stages of the pathogen's life cycle without affecting plant growth. The multiple modes of action means development of resistance is unlikely. Source: Researchers Find a "Silver Bullet" to Kill a Fungus That Affects More Than 400 Plants and Trees. (May, 2015)

Rosewood bottle tree on the move

A Queensland Bottle Tree (Brachychiton rupestris) which has outgrown its current Rosewood address has been donated to the nearby Cobb and Co Heritage Park. The approximately 60-year old tree is expected to live hundreds of years more in its new location. This iconic species will enhance the heritage theme of the park while providing visitors with shade and beauty. Source: Rosewood tree to be given new lease of life (April 2015)

Genetic insights into Citrus evolution

A large study of chloroplast DNA from 30 species of has confirmed that a single common ancestor gave rise to all Citrus fruit, although hybridisation occurred frequently during evolution of the genus. Furthermore, two genes believed to help the Australian species adapt to hotter and drier climates were identified. Source: Most comprehensive study to date reveals evolutionary history of citrus (April 2015)

Posh trees

A study has looked at the the number of trees and income levels in seven U.S. cities. The findings? "Simply put, wealthier neighborhoods, regardless of their ethnic makeup, are more likely to have more and denser trees." Source: Boise State Economist Gets to the Root of Urban Tree Cover (April, 2015)

Another award for Gumbi Gumbi Gardens

Gumbi Gumbi Gardens at the University of Southern Queensland has won overall champion at Toowoomba Regional Council's inaugural Gold Leaf Awards for Excellence, representing the most outstanding entry across the fields of urban design, heritage and environment. The Gardens tell the story of the country's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customs, rituals and practices. They feature a fire pit, basalt grinding stone, yarning circle and meeting place, with plants traditionally used by local peoples and work by local Indigenous Australian artists. A smartphone App that provides a guided tour of the approximately two-hectare Gardens can be downloaded for free. Source: Gardens take 50,000 years to establish (March 2015)

New plantings to welcome Buderim visitors

The major entry points to Buderim are in the process of being enhanced with specially-designed landscape plantings. The Mooloolaba Road entry is based on the dry eucalypt type of vegetation in this area, with the entry sign itself enhanced by banksia, bottlebrush, lomandra and grass trees. The planned Crosby Hill Road entry will incorporate local native plants including lilly pilly, grey myrtle, tree ferns and golden penda. Source: Buderim makes an entry statement (March 2015)

Origins of the bisexual papaw

Analysis of papaya (papaw) chromosomes, in particular the male chromosome and the altered form of the male chromosome which gives rise to hermaphrodite (bisexual) plants, has indicated that hermaphrodites arose about 4000 years ago. Papaya has been cultivated for more than 6000 years, and no hermaphrodites have been found in wild populations (Central America). It seems that this trait was selected during domestication of the crop, possibly by the Maya people. Source: Cultivated papaya owes a lot to the ancient Maya, research suggests. (March, 2015)

Skills grow in Ipswich prison

An agreement Ipswich City Council and Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre will see plants for the council's free plant program being produced by prisoners. This is part of horticultural training, overseen by a TAFE teacher, designed to give inmates meaningful activity and new vocational skills. Source: Prisoners grow plants for Ipswich (February 2015)

Help stop Gold Coast plant crimes

City of Gold Coast is calling for help in stopping theft of plants from its gardens and public lands. This includes a large staghorn fern donated by a resident, stolen from the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens on Saturday 22nd February 2015. "If residents see anything suspicious, they should report it immediately to police", urge Council. Anyone with information about stolen plants should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Source: Valuable plants stolen from City's parks and gardens (February 2015)

Illegal Kaffir lime leaves pose threat

An importer has been been charged with illegally importing kaffir lime leaves infected with Asian Citrus Canker. Leaves had already made their way into retail outlets prior to the discovery. Source: Kaffir gaffe lands fine for importer (February 2015)

Sweet potato leaves nutritious, too

Tissue analysis reveals the vitamin B6 content of sweet potato leaves is comparable with other produce such as broccoli, carrots, avocados and bananas as well as being a valuable source of other vitamins. Source: Sweet potato leaves a good source of vitamins (January, 2015)

Free app to identify SEQ marine plants

"Coastal Life of South East Queensland" is an app designed to assist with identification of invertebrates and marine plants of the inter-tidal and shallow sub-tidal zones of the region. Developed by the Griffith University Australian Rivers Institute and the Queensland Museum, the app contains photographs and information on more than 500 species and will appeal to serious students of marine biology as well as parents wanting to explore these habitats with their children. It's free and available from the App Store and Google Play. Source: Ecosystem app highlights our coastal treasures (December 2014)

Origins of the peach

In spite of their popularity worldwide, or perhaps because of it, nobody has ever been sure where the crop was first domesticated. Radiocarbon dating of ancient peach stones found in the Lower Yangtze River Valley in Southern China indicates that selection for larger fruit size was going on there at least 7500 years ago. Its likely that people selected for other characteristics such as flavour and productivity, too. As peaches have a relatively short time to fruiting from seed this would have been quite feasible, but early orchardists would have probably also developed methods of vegetative reproduction (like grafting) to multiply the improved forms. The researchers think it took about 3000 years of breeding for the peach to be developed into the fruit that we recognise. Source: It's the Pits: Ancient peach stones offer clues to fruit's origins (September 2014)

UQ investigates office greenery

A collaboration between the University of Queensland and several international universities has studied the effects of plants in offices. The results suggest that increases in worker happiness and productivity will make the investment in office greenery worthwhile. Source: Leafy-green better than lean (September 2014)

For healthier people, plant trees

A US study has estimated that trees save the lives of more than 850 Americans and prevent some 670,000 acute respiratory incidences per year by removing air pollution. These positive health effects were valued at nearly $7 billion annually. Source: First national study finds trees saving lives, reducing respiratory problems: Air pollution modeling reveals broad-scale impacts of pollution removal by trees (July 2014)

Sound as pest control

Test plants exposed to recordings of feeding vibrations later showed greater production of mustard oils when fed on by actual caterpillars. Other types of vibrations did not increase these chemical defences. Besides revealing new ways that plants interact with their environment, the research points to ways that natural defences might be stimulated by growers. Source: Plants Respond to Leaf Vibrations Caused by Insects' Chewing, MU Study Finds (July 2014)

Axinaea stamens an unusual bird treat

An unusual form of bird pollination has been described in the genus Axinaea from Central and South America. Instead of the more usual nectar, the stamens carry bulbous appendages which provide birds with a food reward. However, the structures incorporate a "bellows" action which eject pollen on to the bird in the process. Most of Axinaea's relatives in the family Melastomataceae are pollinated by bees. The researchers speculate that the strategy adopted by Axinaea may be an adaptation to growth at high altitudes , where bird pollination may be more efficient. Source: Flower's bellows organ blasts pollen at bird pollinators (July 2014)

Some roses tested for salt tolerance

18 popular rose cultivars promoted by Texas A&M University under the Earth-Kind® brand for their pest tolerance and landscape performance have also been tested for salt tolerance. The cultivars varied, with 'Sea Foam' being one of the best and 'Cecile Brunner' one of the worst. Source: Earth-Kind roses analyzed for salt tolerance. (June 2014)

Acacia seeds tough it out

Two wattles planted at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney represent the durability and future potential of the genus for deployment in extreme conditions. One (Acacia pycnantha), was grown from seed that survived the microgravity and ionising radiation of 2800 Earth orbits in space, the other (Acacia obtusata) was grown from seed stored since 1899. Source: Wattles - to infinity and beyond (June 2014)

New hope for late blight resistance

The centre of origin of potato late blight, Phytophthora infestans has been genetically tracked to a valley in central Mexico. The cause of the devastating Irish Potato Famine and a serious and costly crop disease worldwide today co-evolved with relatives of the potato in this valley, from where it spread repeatedly. The discovery presents tremendous opportunities for finding resistance genes. Source: Tracking potato famine pathogen to its home may aid $6 billion global fight (June 2014)

Ornithophily at least 47 million years old

The oldest known example of ornithophily (the pollination of flowers by birds) has been recently described. Even though structural features of bird fossils had previously suggested a such relationship, pollen found in the stomach contents of a bird from the Messel Pit (Germany) has confirmed that it goes back at least 47 million years. So far, there are no plant fossils of this age suggesting ornithophily, but typical indicators like red flowers of lack of scent are not preserved by fossilisation. Source: Age-old: Relationship between Birds and Flowers- The world's oldest fossil of a nectarivorous bird has been described (May 2014)

Antioxidant roses
Rosa canina
Rosa canina. Photo by Valentina Schmitzer

A Slovenian study in which several rose species and modern cultivars were compared, showed differences in levels of phenolic compounds, Among those tested, Rosa canina leaves exhibited high and varied content of the antioxidants. This could be an underlying reason for the popularity of this species in traditional medicine. On the other hand, the modern cultivar 'Schwanensee' had the lowest levels of those tested, which might explain its susceptibility to disease. Differences in phenolic makeup of indigenous rose species and modern cultivars (May 2014)

Some older news items of continuing interest have been moved to an appropriate subject page at www.calyx.com.au. Check the Guide to Pages.


Garden Product Showcase


This totally natural, long-lasting soil and potting mix improver from Queensland company ZestChem is now available in home garden packs. Learn more at www.zestchem.com.au

Got a plant, product or service to promote to Queensland gardeners? Have it included in the Garden Product Showcase above, free! More information




Queensland Garden Blogs
More garden news, trends & opinion
jerrycolebywilliams Jerry Coleby-Williams, Wynnum
Mud Pie Brisbane
Gustoso Vegetables in Brisbane
Bountifully Brisbane
Hoya Garden Brisbane
Frog Garden Brisbane
random plantings Samford Valley
The Radish Hampton (near Toowoomba)
Africanaussie North Qld
Garden Product Reviews Queensland

Got a blog? If you write about Qld gardens and your blog isn't listed, get in touch.

If you like this website, a link on your own website or blog would be much appreciated, too!

Australian Gardening Forums
Selected links with national scope







The SEQ garden in August

Jobs to do, things to watch and other highlights of gardening in SE QLD

Other Months

NB: These notes are under ongoing development. At present, the following applies to the greater Brisbane region only. It's hoped to expand on these notes in future updates, adding more details and (eventually) more regions.

Naturally, this is a general guide only and will vary depending on local conditions, weather, plant variety etc. Ongoing water availability is also a big concern these days, so take this into consideration too, especially if planning new gardens.

Green shoots and beautiful flowering displays of azaleas, jasmines, tabebuias, bauhinias, grevilleas plus many other trees and shrubs in the garden and in the bush is a signal that we're on the doorstep of spring in SEQLD.

Judgements about planting and pruning this month will be influenced by whether cold weather persists, especially the risk of frost in districts prone to it. Desiccating westerly winds can also be a problem at this time.

Many summer-flowering shrubs are pruned late winter/spring to control the size and shape of the bush and to stimulate floriferous new growth. If you have frost-damaged material, resist the temptation to cut it off until you're sure the danger has truly passed.

September is often cited as the best month for major pruning of Hibiscus in SEQld, but local expert Jim Howie in his 1980 book HIBISCUS - Queen of the Flowers suggests this may be done from mid to late August in Brisbane and that the earlier it is done the longer the flowering may be enjoyed. Since then, erinose mite has become a big problem in Qld. Jerry Coleby-Williams suggests that mid-August pruning is also preferable because it gives the vulnerable new growth a head start on the mites, which are not yet active at this time.

Other heat-loving summer flowerers like allamanda, mussaenda, pentas, brugmansia and plumbago, plus tropical foliage plants like acalypha, crotons and cordylines are better left unpruned until onset of warm weather because the foliage will help protect and feed the plant through the cold months. You'll also have some foliage to look at (even if it is a bit tatty by now) with less time to wait for it to be replaced if pruning occurs when growth is about to take off.

Of course, you'll want to delay any pruning of species that flower in late winter or spring until the display is finished.

Begin fertilisation of trees, shrubs and perennials as the soil becomes warm and plants become active - provided you can water adequately (before and after application). Be specially careful not to burn shallow-rooted plants like azalea. Whether you'll be able to supply enough water over summer to support new growth will also be a consideration.

Prune (if necessary) and fertilise camellias before new vegetative growth starts. As flowering finishes azaleas can also be pruned and fertilised. Both types of plant appreciate a fertiliser formulated for "acid lovers" (see Soil pH - look for camellias and azaleas on the label. If you like a compact dense style of azalea bush (versus a more naturalistic growth habit), you can tip prune once or twice more before the end of the year.

The The Queensland Rose Society Inc recommend fertilising roses around the end of August with a specialised rose fertilser. (See also Roses)

Clumps of daisies such as gazania, shasta daisy and gerbera, agapanthus, daylillies, ornamental grasses, dietes, liriope, cannas, ornamental gingers and similar perennials can be divided. While (relatively) dormant, they won't be greatly stressed, but should start making new growth quickly as weather warms.

Keep an eye out for early infestations of insect pests. Controlling them now may help reduce buildup of populations later in the season. This includes the proper disposal of fruit that may be harbouring fruit fly larvae, such as loquats and tomatoes, and protection of vulnerable crops. Use of physical barriers such as insect-proof netting or bagging of individual fruit avoids sprays.

Control bindii without delay, before they set the seed that cause such annoyance in summer. Allowing them to set seed will also facilitate further proliferation down the track, a principle that applies to other weeds, too.

Hot weather is on the way, so get those garden construction and repair jobs finished while temperatures are still mild. You'll have little time in the next couple of months because, in addition to enjoying your own spring garden, there are so many garden shows, open gardens and other garden events to attend. These are a great source of ideas and advice. Hard-to-find or unusual plants are aften available for sale at such events, too. Check out the Gardening Events Diary to help plan your outings over the next few weeks.


A the weather warms, a wide variety of summer vegetables can be sown in August. Try tomatoes, capsicum and eggplants, beans, cucumber and pumpkin, beetroot and silverbeet, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, radish.

Watermelons and rockmelons take a long time to from planting until ripening. To enjoy the fruit during summer, plant now.

If there's still a risk of frost where you live or if it's still chilly (or if you have winter crops still occupying garden space), you might like to get some veggies such as tomatoes, capsicums, eggplants, melons or cucumbers started in pots in a protected area.

With warm weather ahead, it's far too late for cold weather vegetables like cauliflower, broadbeans and parsnip. You might try a final sowing of peas in cool districts.

See also: Vegetables, Seed raising.

Fruit Trees

Sorry, I haven't prepared any monthly notes for fruit trees yet (this is work in progress). In the meantime, you can try the main page dealing with this subject and check the links for the type of fruit tree you're interested in, here: Fruit Trees

The Flower Garden

See also: Annual Flowers and Bedding Plants, Seed raising

Garden shows, open gardens

See what's in the Events Diary for August.

Looking ahead

Don't forget that Father's Day is 6th September 2015. Things for the garden make an ideal gift - visit Garden Gift Ideas for more ideas and inspiration. There are lots of garden shows and other garden-related events in September, so visit the Events Diary and plan your month.

<< July    Calendar Main    September >>


Do YOU sell plants,
garden supplies or
gardening services in Queensland?
To learn more about promoting your garden centre, online nursery, landscaping company or other garden-related business on these webpages:




Starting a new garden business in Qld and need publicity fast?
© 2001 - 2015 Calyx Horticultural Services      Privacy, Terms & Conditions