The Summer of ’16 and Lessons Learned
When folks have been in to the store and greenhouse these past two months, the talk is usually of weather. We are either happy it’s warm, unhappy it’s cold or disappointed it’s raining. The conversation turns, usually, to the Summer of 2016 and it’s crazy hot temperatures and lack of rain. Almost everyone wishes vehemently that the weather we experienced last year not happen again this year.
Although, in that conversation, at least one proud plant moment emerges. Phones with saved photographs are whipped out and pictures of an amazing deck box or hanging basket are shared. We often hear, “Last year my flowers were amazing, despite the weather…”
How could this be? It was an unprecedented summer of temperatures above 40 degree humidity for weeks on end and a record-setting seventy-eight days without significant rainfall. People were buying in water and wells were running dry. We were trying to grow Ontario plants in Floridian weather; there is a reason you don’t see begonias and geraniums growing in Florida in the summer – they just can’t do it.
So, how did we do it? How did our patio planters thrive while we were all puddles of perspiration sequestered in our air conditioned homes? It is our conclusion that the lack of rain forced us to WATER each and every day, without fail, and that was the key!
In summers-gone-by we have felt that because it rained a bit or was overcast and cool that we didn’t need to water our containers and planters. A rain storm of a couple of hours surely watered my planters, right? Wrong! Unless it rains steadily the whole day, your planter is still in need of water; a light to moderate summer rain usually just bounces off the dense foliage and never reaches the roots of the plants.
So, with no rain last summer, we had to water our plants daily, sometimes even twice daily. It didn’t rain, so we couldn’t use that as the excuse to not do it. And see what thorough, daily watering can do?
It is the simplest but seemingly most difficult thing to do: be consistent with watering plants contained in pots. Best practice is to water in the morning so the plants are hydrated and stress-free during the hottest part of the day, but in modern times when lives are so busy, watering whenever we can is the best we can do. If that means at the end of the day, with a glass of wine in hand, then it is.
Fertilizer can be as simple as a powder or liquid additive to water that is watered in weekly, or twice-monthly at the least. Fertilizer is usually the difference between “wow” and “WOW!!”
Many lessons can be learned from 2016: watering daily is needed, plant choices can make or break a planter (the sun was harsh, did you have the right plant in the right place?) and tropical plants, such as hibiscus and mandevillia, thrived in the heat. Talk to a professional at a good Garden Centre to learn more. Cheers to a more temperate, but sunshine-filled Summer of 2017!