Surviving drought conditions in the garden
THE month of February has been like no other experienced on the Granite Belt.
Soaring temperatures and very little rain finds us in drought like conditions.
During such weather, many plants die or make little growth if a good supply of water is not available.
A good gardener can help conserve moisture by using surface mulches of manure, leaf, mould compost or ground covers.
Inadequate can encourage plants to form surface roots whilst trickle or drip irrigation is an excellent method with minimal loss through evaporation.
The hotter and drier the air, the faster the plant loses water.
Pot plants also have problems as every time the pot dries out the plants stop growing until conditions return to normal.
If the plant starts to wilt over a long period, there is a chance the plant will die.
It is a chance the plant will die.
It is important to feed and water plants in containers and be prepared to water twice daily during extreme hot weather.
A shade area is best as when the temperature rises above 30, virtually all plants stop growing temporarily until things get a bit cooler.
A lot has been written about how to save water in the garden with terms of "water wise”, dry - climate or drought tolerant gardening but this need not be the case.
Having a finite amount of water means restraint, watering less frequently and in doing so train plant to develop deep root systems that help them survive the hot dry month.
There are other ways we can help plants to survive the dry.
These include pruning to keep them compact, never over fertilise, regular weeding and don't mulch too thickly as this will prevent moisture getting to the soil.
A Mediterranean style garden is a good choice on hot sunny sites particularly if your soil is free draining.
For hot dry spots, Gaura is the perfect plant.
Delicate white flowers dance on tall flower stems.
The harder the plant is grown, the more compact it will be.
Also worthy of growing is Chinese plumbago (ceratostigma) - not to be confused with plumbago auriculata.
It comes in white or blue flowers with leaves that turn red in autumn.
Artemisia (Valerie finnis), with its silvery leaves, is well adapted to drought and cold and contrasts when planted close to sedum vera jamesom.
Nerium (oleander) is a tough ever green shrub reaching a height of 3.5m.
They require full sun, well drained soil and can be pruned in spring.
They come in a variety of colours, either single or double flowers and are often used for hedging.
All are poisonous.
Also thriving in poor and well-drained soil is rosemary.
This evergreen native to the Mediterranean is valued for its perfume and for medicinal and culinary uses.
With autumn just around the corner, prepare the soil for winter crops while the soil is still warm.
March is also the prefect month to transplant or move plants considered to be growing in the wrong spot.
JOBS TO DO:
Feed citrus trees but be sure to water the ground well beforehand
Hydrangeas can be pruned by removing spent flowers
Prepare your soil for the planting of winter vegetable crops