A summer heatwave can cause a number of problems for the average person – sleepless nights, sweaty backs, sunburn and so on, but the death of a beloved house plant needn’t be one of them.
As temperatures soar and people head outside to soak up the sunshine, house plants can be left neglected. Mainly due to the fact that proud plant parents are often left clueless on how to care for their greenery when it gets hot. Really hot.
But plant deaths are preventable.
Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when tending to shrubs during hot weather.
Keep them away from fans/air conditioning
Yes, fans and air conditioning systems work an absolute treat for us humans but when it comes to foliage, it’s a different matter.
It would be fair to think that putting a plant in front of a fan would stop it from overheating, but the reality is that this may actually cause it more harm. Air conditioning can dehydrate the air surrounding a plant and tropical plants in particular do not enjoy cold air on their leaves.
Keeping a fan in the same room as plants should be fine, just try to avoid placing plants directly into the line of fire.
For those looking to keep plants cool cool without a fan, it’s actually better to keep windows shut during the day and then open them at night when the temperature cools outside.
Don’t let plants sit in water
If your plant is looking a little parched, definitely give it a good watering, but make sure the plant isn’t left sitting in water at the bottom.
Leaving roots to float in water can cause them to rot and the wet conditions can lead to flies laying eggs in the soil. To protect against this, it’s best to pop a few pebbles at the bottom of a plant pot. This acts as a DIY drainage system.
Keep an eye out for bugs
House plants are likely to attract pests on particularly hot days, so it’s best to keep a look out for the telltale signs of a bug invasion.
The main thing to look out for is any cotton or web-like material on the leaves, as this could be an indication of mealybugs or mites, both of which could harm the foliage.
Neem oil, derived from the seed of the tropical neem tree, is best to deal with any unwanted pests. It’s often found in spray form and is readily available at most gardening shops.
Water them correctly
Firstly, be sure to water the soil rather than the leaves.
Blasting them with cold water may seem like a good idea on a balmy day, but it may shock the plant. Using room temperature water is a safer bet.
Also be sure to soak the soil in one go, rather than sprinkling for a few minutes. Then wait for around 15 minutes and see if the water has been absorbed, if it has then the plant might need more – so go in for another soak.
The best way to see if your plant needs water is to check the soil to see if it feels dry more than an inch down.
During a heatwave it’s best to check the soil every one to two days to avoid any expected casualties.
Get to know their own needs
If you have a few plants knocking around your home, it’s unlikely they are all the same type, so each will have different needs and requirements.
Take some time to research the conditions that are best suited to your various plants.
Some plants thrive in direct sunlight, some don’t. Others prefer a more humid room, and some need to be watered more often.
If need be adjust their positions around your room/flat/house, as this will help prolong their life.
Look out for warning signs
Look out for any sign of wilting, drooping or a change in colour, as these can all be cries for help.
It’s also possible to smother your plant with too much love. Drowning a plant in water, even in a heatwave, is not good. Orange spots or rust on the leaves are signs of overwatering.
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