Don’t let the heat and holidays be the end of your garden this summer. We round up some simple tricks to help you care for your plants this summer
How to make sure your garden survives hot January weather
+ To help revitalise plants after their spring growth spurt and keep them looking fabulous through summer, give them a tea break – a homemade organic tea, that is. Add water to seaweed, chopped-up comfrey leaves, animal manure, fish guts, compost or a mixture of any of the above, cover with a kid-proof lid and leave for 3-4 weeks. Dilute with water when feeding to plants and don’t make the mix too rich. You could also try a commercial brand of organic fertiliser such as Nitrosol or Ocean Organics.
+ Make sure your garden watering system is fit for action this summer with no leaks or blocked drippers.
+ If you’re going away for more than a week in summer and don’t have an automatic watering system, find a benevolent friend or neighbour to water your garden for you. Ask them to do it in the morning if possible; late-night watering encourages fungal diseases, as well as slugs and snails.
+ Gardens can look a little jaded by midsummer but there are plenty of flowering annuals and perennials to liven things up a little. If you plant seedlings now they’ll start to bloom as roses and other spring flowers fade. Keep your garden full of colour well into autumn by filling pots and bare areas with rudbeckia (coneflower), calendula, Californian poppies, echinacea (purple coneflower), zinnia, salvia, sunflowers and chrysanthemums.
+ Regularly deadhead flowers in pots, hanging baskets and gardens to prolong their blooming period. If you leave spent blooms on the plant it will use its energy to make seed rather than produce more flowers.
+ Sap-sucking pests such as mealy bug, aphids and passionfruit hoppers are at their destructive worst in summer. They particularly love dry, airless places so get the secateurs out and thin out shrubs and climbers so there is plenty of air movement through the plants. Watering regularly will also help.
+ Move your hanging baskets, pots and containers into a shady spot, ideally grouped together to make it easier for watering. Adding water-storing crystals will also help to prevent potting mix drying out too fast. DIY watering systems for pots are relatively easy to set up but if you’re no good with a spanner, get a professional to do it.
+ Waterlilies won’t flower well without regular feeding. Poke a couple of fertiliser tablets into pots now and every couple of months during warmer weather.
+ Move house plants outside on a warm day and spray them gently with the hose to get the dust off their leaves – or do it in the shower. Remember to mist house plants regularly when the weather is warm or if they are in a heated room. Even air conditioning can dry out their foliage. As many house plants are from tropical regions, they need good humidity levels to thrive.
Words by: Carol Bucknell.