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
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