This article featured in Domain back in November and at the time was a good reminder for how to maintain your garden through Summer in Australia.

The extreme heat in Melbourne this week suddenly accentuates the importance of these ideas, so read on for how to look after your plants during extreme weather!

Use tender measures to survive the harsh reality | Via www.theage.com.au/domain

(Photo: Pat Scala)

“If your garden is healthy and not under any stress, it has a greater chance of beating the heat, surviving diseases and attacks from pests.

So what do you do when your plants look sick? You start by looking at the environmental factors that may be having an impact on their health. The most noticeable sign is wilting. This can be caused by insects sucking the life out of your plant, or a disease that restricts your plant’s form or growth. But most likely it is because of lack of soil moisture.

Most people overestimate the amount of water your garden gets from rain. Don’t assume when you’re watering the garden that you’re solving the moisture problem. You need to water deep and some soils just don’t allow this. Dig a spade depth near a problem plant and see how dry it is. I like to water a couple of times a week at this time of the year, but deeply. This encourages the roots to grow deeper and be more resourceful in hot, dry weather.

Even in dry times, some people have shady, damp spots that can cause plants to wilt for the opposite reasons. Excess water replaces air in your soil, suffocates the root system and damages the plant. If you dig around and find it’s sticky and smelly, you should stop watering immediately. Improve drainage or raise the plants and garden beds to remove the moisture from the area around the roots.

Heat exhaustion is different from lack of water. A plant wilting from extreme heat is shutting down to minimise moisture loss. Get water to the plant straight away but don’t expect miracles. Once the cell structure is broken down it can’t return to full health. The best you can hope for is to minimise damage and look at what the plant’s needs are to reduce the chances of it happening again.”

Read more at Use tender measures to survive the harsh reality.