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Keeping plants healthy during the heat

We are approaching the end of the 2023 Dry Season in May. Meanwhile, the sun has been out in all its glory for the last few weeks.

Bush fires, midday increased temperatures, and reduced air quality affected us all. The impacts would have been seen most for all garden owners.

Though sun-loving plants like some succulents and cacti are well adapted to these high temperatures, plants that are kept indoors or in partial shade are not acclimated to the heat that the dry season brings.

Most tropical plants are particularly susceptible to damage from heat, and if they are too severely damaged, there is a high chance that they might not recover.

Here are some tips that you can practise for the rest of the Dry Season to ensure that your plants do not die:

Water your plants thoroughly. It is true that over-watering will kill a plant, however, the intense heat from the sun can cause water to evaporate from soil at much faster rates which dries out the soil significantly.

When watering, ensure that you water your plants until you see the moist content in the soil by deep watering. If you water too quickly or not enough, often just the top of the soil gets wet and the rest escapes down the sides of your pot and out the bottom which does not give the plant the moisture content it needs for rejuvenation.

Move plant positions. If your plants are in pots, move them around to locations where they can obtain some shade during the peak of the day. I know it may seem tedious, but it is important to save your plant.

I purchased a beautiful Medinilla magnifica in February and displayed it on my front porch where I would enjoy the beautiful flowers daily. As the temperatures rose during March and April, the plant eventually wilted from sunburn to the point where it couldn’t be recovered. It could have been avoided by simply relocating the plant to an area where shade was greater.

Avoid darker coloured plant pots. Dark colours attract heat. If you can, avoid the black pots and try to utilise the lighter coloured pots. I’ve recently learnt that the concrete pots also retain lots of heat so if you are using the concrete pots, ensure that you place them in areas where they can be shaded and effectively watered.

Don’t repot plants just as yet. Repotting will cause your plant to get a bit stressed (even though it’s important plant maintenance in the long run) and this added stress can cause the plant to die during the extremely hot days.

Avoid using fertilisers on hot days as this can further stress your plants in the heat.