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Updated: April 29, 2010 01:40 IST

Summer turns out to be a bother for plants too

Liffy Thomas
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Cool splash: Plants on the median on GST Road being watered in Chennai on Wednesday. Photo: R. Shivaji Rao
Cool splash: Plants on the median on GST Road being watered in Chennai on Wednesday. Photo: R. Shivaji Rao

It is summer and the rising temperature is bothering plants too, especially young saplings that need more attention.

Botanists say summer is not the ideal season to plant unless one can take proper care, and preferably avoid exotic varieties such as anthurium and orchids.

According to D. Narasimhan, botany professor, Madras Christian College, most native plants can withstand the heat but extra care needs to be taken especially for plants on the medians as nutrition content is less. The mass drive to green the city is more recent, so how these plants withstand the rising temperature needs to be seen, he says.

On medians

Nearly 68,000 saplings were planted last year in the city, with Chennai Corporation greening medians, parks and highways with 10,000 plants and the Forest Department initiating another 48,000.

Mayor M. Subramanian says the Corporation has sourced an additional eight to 10 lorries to transport water to areas where supply is in shortage this summer. In addition, the staff are instructed to take up watering either early in the morning or post 4 p.m., he adds.

Many non-profit organisations working at greening the city are looking for helping hands for tendering young saplings.

Chennai Social Service, a voluntary group run by working professionals, has temporarily stopped taking any door-to-door planting of saplings until June.

However, it would continue reminding the existing plant caretakers to beat the heat by sending a reminder email or SMS alerts, said its volunteers.

With complaints of water crisis in many localities, horticulturists suggest potted plants be displaced to a shady spot or light pruning be undertaken.

Water problem

At the sprawling Science City campus on Gandhi Mandapam Road, the average requirement for one acre of land is 25,000 litres. “Water is always a problem in the summer. So, we cut the supply by half but do it in full with a break,” explains P.S. Ratnakumar, who is in-charge of the landscaping.

“In summer, the upper soil moisture gets dry and water table goes down, and this makes the plant vulnerable. Plants need to be watered before 9 in the morning or after 4 p.m.,” says Professor Narasimhan.

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