Peter Cun­dall:

Sum­mer can be a stress­ful time for ne­glected pot­plants but a few sim­ple steps can help save them and let them flour­ish again, says Peter Cun­dall

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS -

Tips for en­sur­ing your pot­plants sur­vive the warmer weather

Lack of wa­ter, im­pov­er­ished potting soil and root bind­ing are main causes of fail­ure dur­ing sum­mer

There are flow­er­ing house­plants and fo­liage house­plants and if max­i­mum growth is not hap­pen­ing right now, there could be many rea­sons for it.

All pot­ted plants are to­tally de­pen­dent on us for their needs.

Lack of wa­ter, im­pov­er­ished potting soil and root bind­ing are the main causes of fail­ure dur­ing sum­mer.

Reg­u­larly test for soil mois­ture by lift­ing en­tire pots and plants. They should be slightly heavy, in­di­cat­ing good, moist root balls. When pots be­come light­weight and plants so top-heavy they keep fall­ing over, it’s a clear sign that the potting soil has started to dry out.

Potting soils are full of or­ganic mat­ter so be­come wa­ter-re­pel­lent when dry. Wa­ter sim­ply by­passes roots rather than soaks in. Dry root balls also shrink, leav­ing gaps around in­side con­tainer edges, caus­ing wa­ter to run to waste through drainage holes.

When potting soils are fully moist­ened, they swell and once again tightly fit in­side con­tain­ers, elim­i­nat­ing gaps.

The ob­vi­ous so­lu­tion is to fully dunk dry­ing pot plants into a large bucket of wa­ter and leave to soak un­til all air bub­bles stop ris­ing. This in­di­cates that roots have been thor­oughly sat­u­rated. Large, heavy tub plants can­not be dunked, so drainage holes can be briefly blocked with clay and wa­ter poured in un­til the soil can hold no more. Leave overnight, and then un­plug holes.

Al­ways feed house­plants af­ter wa­ter­ing. Those grown for at­trac­tive fo­liage (apart from ferns), need high ni­tro­gen fer­tilis­ers such as heav­ily di­luted fish emul­sion. Flow­er­ing house­plants have dif­fer­ent needs and many bloom bet­ter if al­lowed to be­come slightly root-bound.

The best fer­tiliser of all is “com­post tea” made from com­post soaked in wa­ter with a tiny splash of sea­weed

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