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A bit of sun and soil is all that they need

v.swathi
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Summer is the best season for plants but some precautions are necessary to keep them from drying up

Rising temperatures serve as a caution. The frowning sun hurries one towards emollients such as sunscreen lotions and face-covers, while coolants such as coconut water and fruit juices are suddenly preferred to keep a sunstroke at bay.

This situation is not just for us but as enervating for plants. While those sensitive to heat demand more care during summer, many outdoor plants enjoy the sun .

“After dormant winter, summer is the time of growth for many plants. In fact, provided with enough water and fertilizer, this is the best season for plant growth,” says an officer from Forest Department who is a green aficionado.

However, one needs to take some additional precautions to avert plant-damage due to heat. The drop in humidity should be adequately compensated by increasing the amount of water .

Pot plants face this problem, as they do not have the option of sending their roots further down in search of moisture. If not watered enough, desiccation will soon set into the roots, leading to wilted leaves and eventually drying up of the plant.

Ideal amount of watering differs from plant to plant, and also on the soil type, says the officer. The blind rule is, one should see that the soil has moisture at all times of the day. “Sandy soil becomes dry very soon while good amounts of clay in the soil will help moisture retention. So it is always advisable to add some heavy soil to the pot mixture ,” he says.

Covering with mulch

One can also cover the top portion of the pot with some mulch to keep the moisture from evaporating. The mulch may contain fine wooden pieces, twigs or peat. Even small pebbles may be used to cover the soil. Potted plants may be moved from their individual locations to form a cluster, so as to create a balmy micro climate. Keeping them grouped together will also ensure that each plant faces the sun only from one direction. Just like human beings enjoy a good swim and bath during summer, plants too need to be watered everyday. One may use shower heads while watering so that the plant can stay cool.

However, watering must be either early in the morning or after the sun-down to keep evaporation minimum. Further, watering during hotter days will result in leaf burn, say experts.

“Plants can be prepared for summer through pruning of superfluous foliage to avoid excessive transpiration. Or else, 98 per cent moisture-loss will happen through leaves,” says the officer.

Most plants seed during summer, making it an ideal season for seed collection, he says. The seeds can be planted immediately or preserved till monsoon for germination, depending on the plant.

Seed collection

Plants could use more fertilizer during summer, as they are mostly starved during colder climates when they remain dormant. One can use fertilizer in required amounts to aid growth and blooms.

Weeding is another imperative for summer.

The ground must be cleared of weeds and unwanted plants so that the water and fertilizer meant for the plants won't be wasted on them. “Trees or plants grown in lawns too may become victims of the voracious lawn-grass with its thick network of roots. It is important to clear a portion of lawn around the plant or tree so that the water and fertilizer intended for the plant will reach it,” the officer says. It is not good to keep pots in the shade for most part of the day, assuming that all plants suffer from the sun as much as human beings. However, shade-netting of 50 per cent can be used for shade-loving plants, especially if grown on the terrace.

v.swathi

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