Six on Saturday: Western Algarve – December Gardening

So what what does my garden offer this week? With high humidity and salt winds a coastal garden in the Western Algarve presents its own challenges and this week has proved no exception. Strong winds, sun, heavy rain and temperature from 7C to 20C. Fortunately no snow or frost. On the plus side some amazing flowers and the promise of more to come.

1. Growing Hydrangeas in Pots

I am now spraying my hydrangeas with neat milk as a preventative measure against powdery mildew – so far so good. I had already tried a product called Rose Clear on my rose which was suffering with the same problem, and it burnt the leaves. I was NOT happy!

Another suggestion to add a teaspoon of baking powder and a squirt of washing up liquid to a gallon of water but was also informed it could burn the leaves. So why would I knowingly do that to a plant?

In mid October, I cut this hydrangea right back to almost soil level so I was not expecting it to sprout again so quickly. I don’t want it to become too ‘leggy’ by the time it is due to flower so I’m now wondering if I should prune it again. We don’t usually get frosts so that is not an issue. Ponderous.

Growing Hydrangea in a Container
Growing Hydrangea in a Pot

Last year I pruned it right down and was rewarded with the most amazing blooms by June.

Hydrangeas can grow well in pots
Hydrangeas can grow well in pots
Growing Hydrangeas in Pots
Growing Hydrangeas in Pots

To give you some idea of the challenge powdery mildew presents where we live, this photograph was taken in Jan 2017. I could not cure the problem and was forced to prune the plant right back to soil level. Now I spray the leaves with milk as a preventative measure.

Jan 2017 - Powdery Mildew on Hydrangea
Jan 2017 – Powdery Mildew on Hydrangea

Depending on how much rainfall we have I intend to spray every couple of weeks; fingers crossed it works.

2. No Rhubarb Crumble for Piglet!

Serves me right for not tending the rhubarb pots over the last few weeks. I took this photograph today (13th December)

Growing Rhubarb in Pots
Growing Rhubarb in Pots

This photograph was taken on the 18th of November. I was planning one of my favourite desserts – rhubarb crumble, however, because I am on a diet I delayed pulling the rhubarb thinking it would grow bigger. Probably would if I had remembered to water them!

I have three pots of rhubarb and the stalks have all since withered and died. DAMN!

Rhubarb Growing in Pot - November
Rhubarb Growing in Pot – November

3. Problems with Hibiscus

Opinion is divided between it’s ‘the time of year’ and mineral deficiency. Further info

4. Plants in Bloom W/C 9th December

Abracadabra Rose
Abracadabra Rose
Schlumbergera truncata and S. × buckleyi Christmas Cactus 'Snowflake' Schlumbergera x buckleyi
Schlumbergera truncata and S. × buckleyi
Christmas Cactus ‘Snowflake’
Schlumbergera x buckleyi
Cymbidium Orchid -December 2018
Cymbidium Orchid -December 2018
Cymbidium Orchid -December 2018
Cymbidium Orchid -December 2018
Bird of Paradise
Bird of Paradise

5. Hungarian Hot Wax Chilli Seedlings

I planted four seeds early November and after a lot of persuasion this is a month’s growth. I bring them in at night and put them back outside undercover during the day. Now I know why I buy established seedling plugs. Do you think they will produce chillies by May?

Hungarian Hot Wax Chilli Seedlings - December 2018
Hungarian Hot Wax Chilli Seedlings – December 2018

6. Ornamental Orange Trees – To Prune or Not to Prune

I took a gamble on this. This pot-grown miniature tree produces a continuous succession of either fruit or flowers so there has not been a defined ‘season’ to help me decide WHEN to prune. I have two of these trees and while the fruit is bitter I cut in half and then freeze to use as decorative ice cubes. Okay, I digress, back to pruning.

Ornamental Orange Tree - Western Algarve
Ornamental Orange Tree – Western Algarve

Advice on the net varied so eventually I grabbed a pruning window of opportunity (or the bull by the horns) when there were no flowers and only a few oranges. I have two trees both in full sun in a semi-sheltered position. Temperatures range from 7C at night to 20C during the day.

Ornamental orange tree growing in a pot
Ornamental orange tree growing in a pot


Ornamental orange tree growing in a pot
Ornamental orange tree growing in a pot

When taking a photograph of the orange tree pictured above I noticed the new leaves have citrus leaf weevil  miner  sigh…I will remove the affected leaves by hand and spray the tree with soapy water. Another job to add to my ‘To Do’ list

I then fed with iron granules as the leaves are a tired pale green. However, after speaking to a lady who grows ornamental citrus trees professionally, I am going to remove those. But then … she seemed amazed when I told her  my trees fruit and flower continually.

I am still on a quest to find the seaweed liquid feed a fellow garden blogger uses on her citrus trees. They look fantastic!

If you share my passion for gardening why not join The Propagator and Six on Saturday bloggers?


31 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: Western Algarve – December Gardening

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  1. Hello, I loved your photos and interesting content. I grow several hydrangeas in my garden, mostly in the ground but one in a half wine barrel. I wondered if your powdery mildew problem may be to do with the size of the pots-they look quite small, and hydrangeas need a lot of moisture. I also live in an area with hot dry summers, in SW France, but I mulch my hydrangeas with wood ash throughout winter and that seems to help in the summer. Perhaps larger pots would help?


  2. You have some good looking plants there, in my garden I have the same oranges and roses. Here I couldn’t find that orchid variety but still I have dendrobium, catellia and phalaenopsis. Your Cymbidium Orchid looks like some of my cattleya plants. Don’t you like to add some carolina reaper chilies and few different night blooming jasmine varieties to your garden ? night blooming jasmines will add some beauty to your garden at night.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The magic fertilizer might be on sale here in Olhão. There’s a German gentleman here every Saturday selling small bottles of plant feed. I wonder if that’s what you are looking for?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks, Becky. Is it seaweed or the other type of weed 🙂 SEriously, you have just reminded me we have a German come to our local market selling plant fertilizer. It’s only in old plastic bottles so I wonder if it is the same day. What day is your market?


    1. So your rhubarb stalks are underground? Even when I gardened in the UK the stalks were always visible.

      I don’t know when I was supposed to plant the chilli seeds but they must be fully grown by May with peppers. I’ve never grown them using commercial seeds before. Normally they just self-seed and are self-sufficient. But this is a challenge 🙂


      1. It certainly looks excruciating, but the affected trees do not seem to mind. I just cut the damage out, and they replace it. Otherwise, they continue on as if nothing ever happened.


  4. Your orange tree looks a lot like the tree we call a calamondin here. The fruit makes the tastiest marmalade, well worth the slightly tedious effort of pip removal and slicing. Wow, that rose is amazing. Like Gill, I first thought it was a petunia. It’s much nicer as a rose!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure what they are called. I went out to buy a kumquat and came home with two of these. It could be a calamondin. The sweetness is the the peel not in the fruit so marmalade is a good option. OR Ice cubes 🙂


  5. That Abracadabra Rose is unusual. Not seen one of those before. Love the oranges. We had a Japanese honeysuckle that would get powdery mildew every summer and all the leaves would fall off. It would still flower but it never looked good. I got shot of it in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also have a honeysuckle I took as a cutting about 8 years ago. It’s now about 6′ high but it’s not a happy plant. THe leaves curl and drop and it only produces limited flowers. We will have a chat and if it does not buck up its ideas I’ll cut it right back, dig it up and put it up for adoption.The parent plant was one mass of flowers.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The milk is effective against powdery mildew but in the sun, it stinks a little. So far, there is no natural solution to avoid it on the leaves …
    Beautiful rose Abracadabra and about the orange tree, you could eat the fruit in marmalade / jam?
    We don’t have the same climate but mine bloom regularly: I have flowers, fruits, new leaves and old leaves all year round. It isn’t easy to choose the right time to prune it. I often cut leggy stems (with the citrus leaf weevil too). In time, you will be able to discern the stem that will give you flowers and those that won’t give. However, what I can see, it is well pruned!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. he Abracadabra rose is the only rose I have. I am still a little leery it will grow where we live, but I am assured it will. It seems happy enough at the moment in the warm sunny winter location, but when summer comes I’ll move it to partial shade otherwise it will be toast. 😦

      I plan to try making marmalade next year from the oranges. I’m loath to see them go to waste.

      ” In time, you will be able to discern the stem that will give you flowers and those that won’t give.”

      I’ve not noticed. How can you tell?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I noticed that the stems that will give flowers have firm leaves a little serrated around the edges, while the stems that are useless give dark green leaves, purplish on long stems : they must be cut from time to time and from this cut will grow stems of future flowers.

        Liked by 1 person

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