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Tips to protect house plants from summer heat

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Shielding Your Green Oasis

By SUNITA VIJAY

Climate change is undeniable. India is scorching, Brazil is flooding, California’s wildfires rage unchecked, the Arctic ice is melting at unprecedented rates, Australia’s reefs are bleaching, Venice is sinking under relentless tides, and Pacific islands are vanishing beneath rising seas.

Intense heat waves, especially in our country, make this year unbearably and fatally hot. Scientists aver with a 61% chance that 2024 would be the warmest year on record, and a 100% likelihood of it being among the top 5 of hottest years. Clearly, climate change and global warming are no longer distant fears, but rather the relentless reality of the present. Undoubtedly, Earth has been brutally tormented and exploited. It has been converted from green to grey into a concrete jungle that emits heat. The intention of many not to plant trees in the backyard and convert it into a pucca floor has added to the woes. On being asked, the response is that trees shed leaves, flowers, and fruits, plus there is shortage of water to irrigate the kuccha portion. I completely disagree. A rightly chosen spot for a tree would not require regular watering after few years but the ecosystem it will create will benefit immensely; the winged creatures it invites, the shade it provides, and the aesthetic value it enhances is priceless. One can always choose a tree that provides a green canopy in summer and sheds leaves in winter to not block the sunrays during chilly season. A tree requires 4 square feet of space to plant, but its benefits are huge.  A tree can give shelter to all house plants in summer and protect the plants from frost in peak winters.

Always remember house plants do not perform best under direct sun. They love filtered light and proper moisture check as per the season. There are, however, exceptions like bougainvillea or plants with thorns that may thrive under direct sun.

Below are some essential tips that will ensure plants sail through this hot weather.

  1. Water plants early in the morning. Keep them hydrated. Signs like wilting, leaf curl, wrinkles with dry pot mix means your plant needs more water.
  2. Take care of the plant that has been kept indoors especially in airconditioned room. Bring it out in the evening. Sprinkle water in the morning and keep it in the most shaded area of the yard where it is covered by other plants. Otherwise, the temperature difference shock will kill the plant. Do not keep any plant indoors for more than four days in summers.
  3. Avoid over watering plus there should be no still water. Check the hole at the bottom of the pot.
  4. Use mulch cover or fallen leaves cover. It will retain moisture, regulate soil temperature and suppress weed growth.
  5. Purchase shade covers. This investment is most beneficial.
  6. Keep plants under shade of a tree for a couple of months, especially the delicate ones.
  7. Keep hardy plants for display. Protect the delicate ones under shade.
  8. Check if the plants are in direct confrontation with A/C’s outlet air. It will burn the plant to irreparable loss. Remove the plant from such traumatizing areas.
  9. Keep plants in clusters so that they provide shade to each other and moisture loss is minimal.
  10. Remove the dead leaves of the plants regularly as they may continue to consume water. And they look ugly too.
  11. Give a running shower in the evening.
  12. During water crises use the water from RO outlet, washing machine, and water used for mopping the floor to irrigate grass.
  13. Check the soil moisture regularly as few of the plants may require watering twice a day.
  14. If possible, cover the top layer of the soil with moss grass.
  15. Plants require proper grooming in summers too. Remove dry stems, yellow leaves and check for pests as summer invites many pests to thrive and nibble the foliage.
  16. Try to keep low maintenance plants as a policy to make gardening a less challenging and exhausting affair. Grow hardy plants that can brave harsh weather conditions.
  17. Encourage the use of native plants.
  18. Set the plants as per the sun’s movement. Some plants do well all the year round in one spot. Others need to be shifted as per the season. Be observant to the plants needs. This is the sole reason why gardening is an expensive and strenuous hobby.
  19. Scorched leaves are an indication that the plant is getting excessive sun.
  20. Keep an eye on temperature and humidity. A spray of diluted NPK once a week will benefit.
  21. Always keep the foliage clean.

Couple of months of summer care will save these plants. Once the rains begin, they will enjoy like anything, growing greener and cleaner foliage.

Pics: Author’s garden.