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Go green in summer too

Who said plants will wilt and wither in the searing heat? Just give them a helping hand. And see how they flourish

Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

POTTED AND PRETTY: Season is no bar for a `healthy' garden.

Nothing like coming back from work to a healthy and well nurtured garden!

The urge to relax in the midst of plants, with refreshing breeze caressing you, only grows stronger in the summer since the concrete jungle around you radiates so much heat. Be it an independent house with open space or apartments, a green corner makes a lot of difference -- soothing frayed nerves and easing stress.

But is not maintaining a garden or keeping the potted plants fresh, green and blooming in summer a daunting task? Not at all, says M.M.Hussain, Managing Director of Plants Land, a noted nursery in Somajiguda, if one follows basic dos and don'ts of plant care in summer.

Contrary to common perception, plants do extremely well in summer if conducive conditions are provided, he affirms. A look at his nursery in his residence confirms this. So read on for the tips on plant care in summer.

Summer ensures faster growth of plants with sufficient watering and humidity. It is good to bring outdoor plants in containers together preferably on ground. Placing the potted plants together on the soil keeps the ground wet for a longer time providing the micro-climate.

Those collectors' items and delicate plants can be protected from excessive he1at exposure by putting a shady net across or even a thin gunny cloth.

The soil in which the plants grow has to be porous, humus and loose always and more so in summer.

The top layer has to be removed and mixed with 50 per cent good soft red soil, 50 per cent of natural manure, consisting of either leaf mould or cow dung or horse manure to give texture to soil. Also add a little vermicompost and coco peat. The process can be repeated once in four to six months.

Leaf mould resulting from decaying leaves can be made at home. It provides excellent nutrients to the plant.

Mix all the components thoroughly and put it back into the pot. Porous soil holds the moisture for a long time and feeds the plant for long.

However, Mr. Hussain cautions against water logging as it will rot the root system. Greenish algae on the top layer are an indication of root decay.

Mulching the soil once in 15 days is essential to prevent top soil from becoming a dry cake due to heat. Watering can be done once/twice a day when plants show signs of wilting. It is better to avoid mid-day watering if possible. Avoid chemical fertilisers in summer for a little excess dose can kill the plant. If necessary, a minute percentage in liquid form after thorough watering of plant can be given. Soaked oil cakes can be fed in the form of solution to potted or ground plants. Sprinkling the same over lawns would also help.

Re-potting is to be avoided during summer. But if done, keep the re-potted plant in a cool and shady place for 15 to 20 days to let it settle and take roots properly.

(Next Week: Types of plants and pesticides)

M.L. MELLY MAITREYI

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