If you know a heatwave is coming, you can take steps to avoid damage, but if you return home after a hot day to find a wilted and shrivelled garden, don’t despair – most plants are resilient enough to be revived. Here’s how to prepare (or repair!) your garden.
- Water plants thoroughly in the days leading up to, and during, the event. Early evening or before sunrise is best to reduce evaporation.
- Before watering, use a garden fork to make holes 2–3cm deep in the soil around your plants to help hold water.
- For deeper, more effective watering, rake mulch away, water, then replace.
- Use a wetting agent to ensure soil or potting mix absorbs and holds moisture.
- Apply seaweed solution to plants to help thicken cell walls. This will give them more resilience against dryness and temperature extremes. Use it on all plants.
- Erect shade structures over vegie patches and other delicate plants using shadecloth.
- Apply leaf-protecting, anti-transpirant sprays to special plants. They work by forming a polymer film on the leaf surface, which reduces transpiration and provides sunburn protection.
- Move pots to the coolest spot in the garden – usually the south side of the house, or under dense trees or shrubs, or on a verandah. Move prior to watering, when they are lighter to carry.
- Avoid fertilising and pushing plants into growth.
- Cluster pots to keep them cooler.
- Place pots on saucers or any shallow container that holds water, so they can draw on that as needed. The water will also increase humidity and protect leaves from drying out.
- Thoroughly hydrate plants as soon as possible – use a wetting agent to make the watering more effective and faster acting – and spray foliage with water to cool plants.
- Apply seaweed solution to the roots and foliage – the proteins will help reduce stress and activate the plant’s natural repair mechanisms.
- Dunk small pots into a bucket of water to give them a thorough soaking.
- Remove dead foliage and stems.
For more summer survival tips for your garden, get hold of the December 2021 issue of ABC Gardening Australia magazine, out now.