How to protect your plants in hot weather

Just like people, plants need special care to make it through the hottest part of the year. Like most things in life, preparation is the key.

Obviously, watering is essential but it is important to water correctly. Water deeply two or three times a week using a drip irrigation system or soaker strip. Using a hand held hose often will result in the water running off the soil away from the plant as the water is delivered too quickly. Deliver the water slowly and long.

It is best to water in the early evening. If you water then, the water will have time to soak deep into the soil where the roots are. If you water in the middle of the day, much of the water will be lost to evaporation and also the water will be warmer.  If you know a very hot day is approaching, it is best to water heavily the night before.

A thick layer of mulch is important as it insulates the plants roots from the sun keeping the plant cooler. It will also save water by keeping the soil moist.

There are many materials that can be used as mulch.  Sugar cane residue, peastraw, bark chips, compost, lawn clippings, even rocks are just a few things that will make your plants happy. Rocks may not seem a logical choice for a mulch, but lighter colour rocks or pebbles can reflect the sun. Mulch is readily available in bulk that can be delivered or smaller amounts can be bought from your local hardware store to mulch your wicking garden beds.

In the extreme Adelaide sun, consider providing shade cloth for delicate plants such as vegetables and flowering plants. When planting out a garden or installing garden beds consider where the sun and the shade will be at different times of the year. It may be possible to avoid direct midday sun by planting near shade trees but be careful, planting in the wrong place may result in your plants getting no sun in winter!

Consider investing in water smart products for your garden, for example a wicking bed.  This way the plants and vegetables have a readily accessible source of moisture when they require it.

If you follow these tips your plants will survive and thrive in our harsh summer sun.