Hot weather and plants...tips from bitter experience
with thanks to members Sue Whigham and June Grindley
Photos: Lesley Whayman
Photos: Lesley Whayman
Whether you are a believer in the Trump or Thunberg thesis on global warming, there is no doubt that the last two summers in the UK have been hot and dry. So what to do? Here are some hints:
- Use Mediterranean plants but realise they usually aestivate (this verb is usually used for animals but also applies to plants ) in the hot dry summer. Thus they should shut down activities and should look dead in the height of summer which is not great in your borders. Water will keep them going but....
- If we are going to get long hot dry summers in the future, then we may need to ignore any usual 'full sun ' instructions and plant in partial shade.
- Water on the soil at the base of the plant, not on the plant, preferably in one large amount per week (not dripped) and at the end of the day...with glass of rose in the other hand.
- Mulch all round plants with shreddings, leaf mould, straw, bark and/ or gravel or pebbles etc.
- Use pots for colour. These can be drip irrigated. Or hand watered... sparingly.
- Avoid dark coloured pots as they absorb more heat than light coloured ones and plant in as big a pot as possible. Mulch these too.
- Saucers under pots will retain any excess water and give it back to the plant, if the pots are unglazed but avoid overwatering.
- Do not use peat for planting as it dries out. Instead use as good a soil as you can get (like John Innes) and add perlite or water retaining gel, or used bits of old sponges to retain water.
- Group pots to help conserve humidity, preferably out of the wind which increases evaporation.
- Don't have hanging baskets but if you must, the RHS says hanging baskets can survive on just a teacup of water, 160ml, per day . An ongoing RHS trial lasting three months is investigating 10 different watering methods. We await the results.
- Recycle water used for washing vegetables, salad and fruit to water pots or garden.
- Invest in water storage containers or grey water storage.
- Remove the lawn. Or don't water it...it will recover....
- Go away when the heat is on and the garden looks ghastly!