How do you keep the plants in your garden going in an extended hot spell? Mediterranean plants, succulents and well-chosen annuals are key – oh yes, and plenty of watering. Jane Moore gives her tried-and-tested methods for dealing with drought
There are, of course, tips and tricks that help the garden along. If you’ve taken my advice and planted a tree, then you’re already on the way to giving the garden some shade, which will really help the plants beneath – although don’t forget to water the tree.
The usual suspects
Sea holly and allium When it comes to perennials the list of true survivors is limited, although plants like Eryngium, the sea holly, are obviously adapted to dry conditions. Think seaside a little more and you’ll come up with thrift, Erigeron and Crambe cordifolia, the sea kale, one heck of an imposing plant but not for the faint of heart or a small garden. Other great doers include hardy geraniums and Crocosmia, both surprisingly sturdy and floriferous and with lots of varieties to choose from.
Short lived, but long loved
Love your lawn
Water if and when you can – stick to the advice that follows here, but I know that’s not always possible due to hosepipe bans, water meters and your own personal philosophy. The thing is to remember that your lawn will recover once we get some rain. Promise.
Watering and maintenance
- When you water, water well. Water only once or twice a week, but do it really thoroughly. For example, leave the hose soaking a newly planted tree for at least 20 minutes. Pots will need more regular watering, but again try to do it just two or three times a week if possible, soaking the pots in buckets or trays or using the hose for five minutes a time.
- Either water late or water early. At home I water my garden in the evening so the plants have all night to soak it up with no sun causing evaporation. At work I get in early and try to do the bulk of the watering in the cool of the morning.
- If you must plant, plant small pots such as 9cm pots as they will get used to their growing environment as they develop. If the worst comes to the worst and you can’t keep them going, then at least you haven’t spent too much money.
- Make your own compost. Adding organic matter to the soil before planting does wonders to improve water retention in the area around the roots. It may seem easier to buy organic matter in bags from the garden centre but it isn’t a patch on the stuff you can make yourself – but either is better than nothing at all!
- Mulch, mulch, mulch. After watering, even a little mulch around individual treasured plants will help to keep the roots cool and moist. Of course, if we get some rain – remember that stuff which falls from the sky? – after you’ve done your lunatic happy dance across the garden, then mulch everything you possibly can.