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It’s gettin’ hot out here! So here’s some summer plant care tips!

It’s gettin’ hot out here! So here’s some summer plant care tips!

BBQS, beach outings and poolside hangs! Yup, it doesn’t get much better than Australian summer! The warm weather and long sunny days, mean that it’s the perfect time for us gardeners to sit back and enjoy all work we put into our plants throughout the year. 

While the summer heat can make you feel lazy, it’s important to keep up the plant love throughout the season. As the temperature rises, your garden needs two things: hydration and protection. So, if you want to keep your plant babies happy this summer, here are some sizzlin’ summer tips.

Plant hydration vs. summer heat

Sweat baby sweat: Perspiring plants

Just like us humans, plants sweat more in the summer! Plants have loads of little pores on their leaves and while they try to keep them shut to reduce transpiration (sweating), in warmer months they lose more water than they can absorb. To make sure your plants don’t dry out, you need to make sure there is sufficient moisture in the soil! 

Quench their thirst: Increasing your watering

To make sure your plants are getting enough to drink you will need to increase your watering frequency. While in spring, watering to 30mm twice or three times a week is enough, in summer you’ll need to up the ante. 

For most plants, you’ll need to water with 30mm every day or two. This is especially important for seedlings, cuttings, young plants, tropical plants, and summer fruiting plants (such as tomatoes and cucumbers). You can maintain a once a week watering for drought tolerant varieties such as succulents and Australian native plants.

Make sure you water potted plants (except for succulents) every day. If your potted plants dry out to the point where they are repelling water, try soaking them in a bucket of water for half an hour, then drain any excess. Your lawn should be watered 4 times a week to keep it lush, healthy and to deter summer weed growth. 

Want to up your watering game? Check out our awesome range of Hoselink hoses and sprinklers

Know your garden: Catering to your garden’s watering needs

Please note! There’s no set watering guide for every garden. Just like us humans, all gardens are different! There are lots of factors that will affect how thirsty your plants are including: soil type (sand or clay), local climate (wind conditions, latitude, and humidity) and the age of the plants. 

You should also pay attention to the weather forecast. While Australian summers are hot, they also overlap with our rainy season. That means that your garden might get a natural soaking from afternoon showers and thunderstorms after the heat of the day has passed. If rain is forecast, you can reduce your watering significantly!

Saving water: Creating a water wise garden

If you want to water less, be prepared for your plants to have a less than optimum appearance. Otherwise, you can consider planting out your garden with more drought resistant varieties such as succulents and Australian native plants

Most plants prefer to be planted in transitional months (spring and autumn) when temperatures aren’t so high, so hold off planting until then if you can. Intense sun is a killer for newly planted seedlings and young plants.

If you can’t wait until spring, aim for late summer when temperatures begin to drop. Keep in mind that your newly planted babies will need more water as they establish. To help them along, water daily for the first two weeks then every second day for the next week.

The best way to water: Timing and technique

The best time to water your garden is in the morning, before the summer heat has set in for the day. Watering during the day leads to most of the moisture evaporating too quickly, so avoid it if you can. 

If you want to water in the late afternoon, make sure you give your garden enough time to dry out before night time. Leaving leaves wet overnight increases the risk of fungal outbreak, which can severely damage your plants. 

When it comes to technique, our best tip is to water twice. Start at one end of your garden and work your way to the end. Then go back to the start again and repeat the process. Your first watering will break surface tension and encourage water to penetrate the soil. Your second watering will allow water to soak deeper. Avoid light watering at all costs (it does more harm than good).

Plant protection vs. summer heat

Keeping cool: Mulching in the moisture

If you want to make the most of your watering efforts and reduce soil evaporation in the summer heat, we have one word for you. Mulch! You need to top your soil with a sufficient layer of mulch. Aim for 75mm or 3" depth as this will be thick enough to provide insulation and reduce evaporation, but not thick enough to prevent water infiltration. Cooler, moister soil will also encourage beneficial microbial activity, which will boost plant growth and keep your plant babies happy all summer long!

There are a huge range of organic mulch you can try out, including bark, compost, or shredded leaves. If you go for bark, make sure you choose a nice, chunky variety because it’s better at reducing evaporation, and allowing water to travel through to the soil. Make sure you top up your mulch yearly!

Don’t like the look of bark? Try planting low-lying, hardy groundcovers, such as Myoporum or Brachyscome among your plants to create a natural cooling blanket.

Hot, hot, pots: Protecting your potted plants

Potted plants, particularly those in terracotta pots, are vulnerable to scorching in the summer heat. To protect your plants, lightly mulch the top of the soil and if possible, move them out of hot northern or western sunlight. These are the hottest aspects of your home and will overheat most potted plants.  

While it may seem like a good idea, do not leave potted plants to stand on saucers of water. This encourages root rot, fungal infections and can lead to mosquito breeding (yuck!). If you want to cool your plant, stand your potted plants in saucers filled with moist sand. This will help the roots cool and keep your plants happy.

Want to know when your potted plants are thirsty? Check out our range of
Sustee ‘when to water devices’.

Be prepared: Prepping for the summer heat

If you have any young plants, seedlings or vegetables, make sure you shelter them from the sun with a 50 per cent shade cloth or old net curtains. You can even create shade structures with fallen palm fronds or leafy branches to help them beat the heat.

If you have plants along the northern or western aspect of your house, you can create some shading by putting up an awning covered in climbing plants or by strategically planting a wall of full sun, screening plants. Some great choices are Syzygium and Gardenia varieties, Tiger Grass or  Olive Trees. Just remember planting is always more effective in spring or autumn!

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