Holidays and the hot sun are a deadly mix for your garden in January. Use this handy checklist to help keep your plants happy and healthy this summer
Your January checklist to help your garden through the hot summer months
It’s holiday time for many people but plants have to work harder in midsummer as it’s their peak growing season. They also have to cope with the effects of heat and reduced water. Before you take off for the beach, feed, water and mulch your plants to keep them happy and healthy through the holiday period.
Keep your garden well fed
Liquid fertilisers such as Nitrosol or soluble types such as Phostrogen are excellent for hedges, shrubs and flowering perennials during the growing season. You could also try adding water to homemade compost, sheep pellets, seaweed or chopped-up comfrey to make a super-nutritious tea. Use the tea in addition to standard fertilisers to feed very hungry plants, such as roses.
Spray foliage and prune plant centres
When plants are under stress in the heat they are more vulnerable to attack by sap-sucking pests such as mealy bugs, passionfruit hoppers and spider mites. These pests love hot, dry conditions so a good way to deter them is by spraying the foliage with water. Thinning out the centre of plants to create more air movement also helps to discourage them.
Roses will often give you a second burst of flowers if you deadhead them regularly and keep them well watered during the hot months.
Mulching is the most important job
If you have time for only one job before you head off on holiday, make it mulching. Cover any bare areas that will attract weeds and lose moisture rapidly in the summer heat. Also top up existing mulches that seem a little thin. A good thick layer (8-10cm) is essential to keep the ground cool, conserve moisture and stop weeds from getting their roots into the soil. Attractive organic mulches also give garden beds a unified look. Weed and water the garden first before laying down mulch. Add homemade compost to mulches around roses and they will reward you.
The midsummer heat can suck the life out of your plants, literally. If you are going away on holiday and don’t have an automated watering system, sweet-talk family or neighbours into thoroughly hosing the garden (including pots and hanging baskets) every 2-3 days during periods when there’s no rain. Failing that, try one of your local garden maintenance companies.
Move potted plants to the shade
Pots dry out incredibly fast in summer. To mitigate this, move all your container plants into a shady spot, especially if you’re going away. Grouping them together makes watering easier.
Words by: Carol Bucknell. Feature image by: Sally Tagg.