Keep Your Plants Thriving In The Hot & Dry - Garden Life

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Journal / How To

Keep Your Plants Thriving In The Hot & Dry

It looks like we’re in for a hot and dry summer – so what can you do to ensure your plants stay strong and healthy in all this heat?

There are some basic guidelines for watering outside, which will give your plants the resilience they need over summer months, so you can relax, and know your foliage friends are well taken care of, and have the best chance of making it through.

Watering

Water is a precious resource and our plants need it as much as we do. These tips apply to both plants in pots, and in the ground.

– Be aware of how much water your plants need – if they are cacti, succulents, dry-tolerant natives, or Mediterranean plants, they need less than a rainforest species.

– As a general rule – in hotter months, established plants are probably ok with being watered approximately three times a week. Drier tolerant succulent gardens could be watered as little as once a week. If your garden is newly planted, it will need a good soak each day, at least for the first two to three months.

– Water first thing in the morning – before it gets hot, so the plants will get what they need.

– Water the roots – rather than splash water around on top of the plant, go for the top of the soil above the root ball. This is where they need it most.

– Soak the soil – better to water deep and thorough, to really soak the soil before moving to the next plant. If you water deeply, the plants develop deeper roots, giving them more resilience in the dry.

– Use your finger to check soil moisture – you might not need to water if the soil is still damp from the day before. It’s beneficial for most plants to dry out a little between watering. And for succulents and cacti, it’s essential to have periods of dry before re-watering.

– Native plants are only drought tolerant once established – they still need good and consistent moisture in the first year after planting. This is true for most other plants, also.

Mulching

Put simply, mulch is a layer of decaying leaves or organic matter that sits on top of soil or potting mix. Mulch has huge soil health benefits: it helps retain moisture for the plants to use; it keeps the soil cool; encourages good soil critters; and suppresses the growth of weeds. In nature, this occurs naturally of course, but for manmade gardens, we recommend adding mulch.

– Put a 50-70mm layer of organic mulch on top of the soil – Eucalyptus Mulch is ideal. We also use a product called Droughtmaster Mulch, a combination of organic compost and bark mulch.

– Gravel can also be used as a mulch. It’s ideal for cacti, succulents, or Mediterranean dry-style gardens. Use a local gravel where possible, rather than an imported one. ANL have bulk gravel available that is very cost effective. Nepean Pea Gravel is a favourite of ours.

– For pots, gravel works best as a mulch as bark mulch could cause tannins in the wood to leach. This might lead to water stain marks on your floor.

Potting Mix

If you’re planting a new garden or repotting some old favourites, selecting the right potting mix will give your plants the best chance to survive and thrive.

– Pick the right mix – for cacti, succulent, and natives, use a mix with good drainage, rather than one that holds water. Regular shrubs, rainforest species, and edibles like a premium mix that retains more moisture.

– Go for quality – the ‘premium’ mixes usually have water saving crystals included, and they do work well, if also combined with a gravel mulch to help stop evaporation.

 

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