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Avoid the sting of the summer heat

Never ending exercise: managing a garden is a 365-day a year project (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Summertime and the living is easy, or so the song goes; summer heat brings growth, with or without rain, and with growth comes the probability of damage from hurricanes. Life is a never ending exercise in survival.

With long dry periods and little rain, growth, though active, is under great pressure.

Water is taken in via the roots and ‘passed’ to every part of the top growth such as growth above ground … branches, foliage, flower seed and fruit.

This put a great strain on the workings of the plant; the roots being the conduit for the intake and upward movement of water to sustain growth of foliage, flower seed and fruit production.

This can create a quandary when considering the ongoing maintenance programme for this time of year; with higher temperatures, and even a little rain, growth is a normal function.

However, there is a balance which needs to be accommodated.

We are still in the hurricane season which means potential hurricane damage to plants which are heavy laden with foliage, seed and fruit; to reduce the impact of such a scenario, some pruning should be carried out to thin growth which would allow a filtering of the wind through the remaining branch system with a reduced impact and damage.

Pruning, in effect, will cause a surge of growth, with the appearance of new growth found within six to twelve inches below the pruning cut as well as other latent growth.

New growth close to and around new pruning cuts can be heavy and will require thinning out to create a good branch framework for future growth and shaping of the plant.

New growth will be soft and will require enough water to keep it

from drooping so irrigation becomes an integral part of the total exercise; water heavily in the evening to the point of near saturation around the ‘drip tip’ of the branch system as this is where the feeder roots will be located, which will encourage a quick uplifting of the water to areas throughout the top growth.

Heavy watering two or three times a week encourage water to slowly settle into the soil and thereafter encourages the root system to chase after the moisture in the depths of the soil. It is not wise to water during the heat of the day.

Weeding will keep down unnecessary growth and therefore save water for use by the foundation planting. weeds are fast growers and will take up water that should be used by the foundation plantings.

The use of ground cover plantings will keep the soil surface cooler and protect surface growing roots, which is why it is so important to plant in large holes to encourage root systems to chase after water.

Pest and diseases can have an adverse effect on the plant’s growth, with new young soft growth being a tasty host for aphids. Caterpillars can also be a major problem on young growth, especially Pentas and will skeletonise a plant in a day.

Avoid using chemicals on plants during sunny, hot days. In a serious case of aphids ensure the soil is well-watered and plant is not distressed before applying the spray in the latter part of the day.

The garden is a 365-day exercise. Poor management can render its appearance, physical and aesthetic, to skeletonised outlines of what might have been.

Avoid the summertime blues.

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Published August 15, 2022 at 7:36 am (Updated August 15, 2022 at 7:36 am)

Avoid the sting of the summer heat

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