THE POTTED GARDEN:
REMEMBER TO WATER THOSE POTS!
August is usually the month when most of us go on holiday and leave our gardens to fend for themselves, but a little thought before you go makes a big difference
Some TLC before you go on holiday and on your return will be enough to make sure that you can go away without worrying about all of your hard gardening work going to waste and you can really relax!
Whilst you’re away and your garden is left unattended, many of your plants may suffer due to lack of water. Make sure, before you go, you either arrange to have your containers and baskets watered or set up a system that can supply water on a regular basis to your tubs and baskets.
Move any baskets and containers out of full sun to a position where they are shaded at the height of the day. Stand terracotta pots on gravel trays topped up with water, so the pots can gradually absorb the reservoir of liquid or alternatively make a few holes in the lid of a plastic water bottle, cut off the bottom of the bottle, turn upside down into the plant compost and then fill with water (which slowly drips into the soil).
When the temperature rises it’s good to give plants a thorough soaking – water for at least 20-30 seconds at the base of the plant and watering in the early morning is best. That way the plants will have time to absorb the water and be well hydrated during the hottest hours of the day.
Weeds compete with garden and container plants for water, so it’s especially important to keep the weeds from taking over during dry periods. Adding a layer of mulch to your pots helps to keep the weeds down. It also helps the soil stay moist and cool, as does the use of ground cover plants around the edges of containers.
Avoid using fertilisers on plants during a heat wave, especially when the soil is dried out. Plants that are dehydrated will soak up fertiliser faster, which could increase the chances of fertiliser burn. Also, don’t transplant anything during a hot spell – plants that are stressed by hot weather may not recover if they’re moved.
Finally – recycle as much water as possible, so use grey water from washing up or washing yourself, install a water butt and re-use paddling pool water.
If pots and containers are just part of your outside space then here are some gardening tips for this month from the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society):
• Prune Wisteria
• Deadhead flowering plants regularly
• Water – particularly containers and new plants – preferably with grey recycled water or stored rainwater
• Collect seeds from favourite plants
• Harvest home grown vegetables as they become ready
• Keep ponds and water features topped up
• Look after the lawn
• Plan for next year and what bulbs to plant this coming Autumn