Wondering how to prepare a garden for a heatwave this summer? This summer is being touted as possibly as hot as last. And it will wreak havoc in our gardens. So, best to over-prepare than under prepare with these tips for keeping your plants healthy during extreme weather.
1. BEST TIME TO WATER PLANTS IN HOT WEATHER
The best time to water your plants in hot weather – and especially during a heatwave – is early morning or evening, when all risk of burning tender growth is gone. Watering during lunchtime is a big no-no, as water droplets will act as tiny magnifying glasses, making the heat damage much worse. The best time to water potted plants in hot weather is the same, but you’ll need to make sure you water your container garden both in the morning and evening, as the soil dries out much quicker in containers.
If you have the budget, consider installing a water irrigation system, which is a water-efficient way to ensure your plants get watered, even when you’re away on holiday.
2. TIPS ON WATERING PLANTS IN EXTREME HEAT
It may seem logical to flood your plants with as much water as possible, but this will actually do more harm than good during extreme weather. By over-watering, you are adding to the stress the plant is already under in needing to acclimatise to higher temperatures. Plants that have access to good soil are able to adjust to hot weather, provided the soil at root level doesn’t dry out completely.
So, every morning during the heatwave, perform this test: stick your index finger into the soil around the root; if the soil is still wet below the surface, there’s no need to water. If it’s just damp, it’s time to water again.
If you don’t think you’ll have much time to water plants regularly during a heatwave, consider choosing from our list of best drought tolerant plants.
3. PROTECT PLANTS FROM DIRECT SUN
Lunchtime is by far the most dangerous time of day for plants during very hot weather. There are several things you can do to prepare your garden for a heatwave and alleviate the pressure on your plants:
Mulch: mulching is one of the most effective ways to prevent moisture loss from around the root area. Make sure the mulch layer is at least a couple of inches deep;
Use a shade cloth: if you’re worried about young plants or soft fruit, putting up a shade cloth might be a temporary solution. You will need a structure to mount it onto, such as a frame or pergola;
Row covers: if you’re planning a kitchen garden, these are very useful for protecting tender growth and the soil. You’ll need hoop supports and shade netting to build your row covers.