Be sure to check your plants are beating the heat this summer
THESE next few months will continue to be hot, until autumn brings its welcome relief. So we need to make sure our plants have enough water to survive the heat without too much damage. A plant suffering from dehydration may develop brown or burnt patches on the leaves.
The leaves, new growth, flower buds or fruit may shrivel or drop prematurely. If it’s serious, you may lose the plant.
There are a few things you can do to limit the damage. Start by adding a layer of organic matter such as manure or compost to your garden beds. Water that thoroughly, then cover with a 5cm layer of mulch and water again.
Lots of gardeners cover the vegie patch with a light shade cloth for the next few months. It can help reduce water stress, and can prolong the life of leafy greens and soft herbs like coriander. These can bolt to seed and taste bitter in the hot weather. Keep them growing strongly by feeding them every fortnight with an organic liquid fertiliser.
Even well-established fruit trees will shed some of their bounty if they suffer heat stress. So make sure these are well mulched, and give them a deep watering every week or so if we haven’t had good soaking rain. Potted plants and hanging baskets dry out very quickly, especially if they are in a breezy place. A layer of mulch on the surface will help. The best way to water hanging baskets is to take them down and soak them thoroughly by immersing them in a bucket of water.
Make sure the entire container is submerged, and keep it there until no more air bubbles rise to the surface of the water. You can do this with other pot plants too.
You may need to water potted plants twice a day in really hot weather. You might want to move them to a less sunny position for a while.
Watering is best done in the morning, so plants are fully hydrated to face the day. Seaweed-based plant tonics can help plants survive the heat, and can speed recovery if they suffer. So use a seaweed solution every fortnight, applying to the soil in the early morning or late afternoon.
Don’t fertilise too heavily during the next few months, because new growth is soft and tender, and much more easily damaged by heat.
If you do notice scorch damage, wait until the heatwave has passed before removing it, because any new growth that is triggered by the pruning will be even more vulnerable.
And look after yourself, too, if you are gardening in the heat. Try to work in the shade, drink plenty of water, and protect your skin from sun damage.
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DON’ T LET HEAT STRESS AFFECT YOUR PLANTS THIS SUMMER