Prionotes as a Glasshouse Plant

Native Grasses - Uses in Revegetation


There is a great deal of mystique about how much or how little fertiliser is needed for successful native plants, and the use or abuse by  phosphorous is even more controversial. An excellent small publication, "Potting Mixes" written by Kevin Handreck and put out  by the CSIRO suggests  that many Australian plants need little or no phosphorous. However, it goes on to say:

    "It is commonly said that a fertiliser high in phosphorous is needed to stimulate flower production. Certainly phosphorous is needed if flowers are to be produced, but rather than boost phosphorous it is better to reduce the amount of nitrogen supplied. You can therefore continue to use the same fertilisers but cut the frequency of addition and the strength used when you want to initiate flowering. The plants will still get enough phosphorous, but mild nitrogen deficiency will encourage the plant to start producing flowers rather than more vegetative growth."

In a section on slow-release fertilisers it states:

    "Osmocote granules tend to split after some months (perhaps 6 or so) of storage in plastic containers. If your use rate is low, store Osmocote in glass containers with narrow, tightly sealed tops. Check the contents of retail packs for splitting before you buy. Nutricote does not seem to split during prolonged storage."


* Ever been mystified, not to mention disappointed, when healthy young seedlings (even the humble lettuce) die a slow death yet show no sign of disease or pest?  It appears that using IBDU in potting mixes in winter can lead to the production of toxic concentrations of ammonium. IBDU contains 31% nitrogen and  is an organic fertiliser that supplies nitrogen. Micromax used in potting mixes provides trace elements.

* Crushed Zeolite included in a soil-less potting mix (about 20g/L) reduces losses of ammonium ions by leaching and  considerably improves the efficiency of use of fertiliser nitrogen.

* Kuranga Nursery in Victoria has developed a phosphorous-free fertiliser which is particularly good for use in containers. Phosphorous tends to accumulate in a container with each successive application of fertiliser, until it  eventually reaches toxic levels (particularly for native plants!)

* Honey makes a satisfactory alternative to hormone rooting powder for use on cuttings.


Large amounts of shredded bracken ferns collected in late spring and mixed with manures are a valuable addition to to compost. They provide an excellent organic source of potash which has been concentrated from the sandy, potash deficient soils in which they normally grow. Ferns collected later in the growing season are lower in potash and much slower to decompose into humus. When shredded they are useful for poultry deep litter prior to going into the compost.

A great supply of mulch can be obtained from piles of slashed bracken fern that has been compacted and allowed to partially breakdown over a six month period.

The tough stems of older ferns make ideal throw-away pea supports. The whole fern provides an ideal shade umbrella over tender vegetable seedlings planted out during the hot sunny days of summer.

To control bracken infestations repeated removal of the young fronds will gradually weaken the plants by depleting the food stored in their rhizomes. Spreading concentrated poultry manure will soon cause the decline of a patch of bracken fern. Once the ferns have stopped growing, use the ground to grow a healthy crop of organic potatoes.
(back to "Bracken and Bugs")

Go to Part Two