by Pam Erikson/Special to Langley Advance Times
Heat, water and summer containers!
Well the last month here on the Lower Mainland has been interesting for gardeners, to say the least!
At this writing, we are now at 35 days without any rainfall – and for those on rural properties and relying on well water, it’s a day to day challenge to keep plants alive.
Through the years, we have talked a lot about drought tolerant plantings – especially beneficial if our summers are going to continue to have long stretches of dry weather like this.
Perennial borders filled with lilies, sedums, echinacea, lavender and daylilies do very well; verbena and geraniums for annuals are also very tolerant of little water.
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There are many books and articles about xeroscaping/waterwise gardening and it’s definitely something worth looking into if you want to maintain a nice garden during the hot summer.
The big issue this year was the “heat dome.”
For the first time, we reached 43C in our garden – not a temperature comfortable for either myself or the plants.
Plants that normally could take a bit of sun got badly burned; and even those in the shade had some damage from the sheer air temperature alone. Oriental lilies, normally full sun lovers, had many burned leaves; and hydrangeas really took a hit.
Many people came to us to saying they were going to dig up and replace burned plants – a reaction that was way too extreme.
I explained to one lady that removing plants that got a burn was like cutting off your arm because you got a sunburn. The plants will be fine and recover – just care for them as usual, but leave on the burned leaves because they still feed the plant.
Our hydrangeas have already sprouted new growth and are already looking much better; and the lilies bloomed beautifully, despite burned leaves.
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Growing in containers has also proven to be easier to keep plants alive in extreme heat and dry, particularly if it is a deeper container. Once watered thoroughly, the concrete/ceramic containers hold the moisture longer than plants planted directly into the soil, even with good drainage.
We grow many perennials in large containers and they get watered maybe once a week and are all still looking fresh and happy.
So, my best advice would be to take a good look at your planting areas, and if you do have a lot of full sun areas, research the best drought and heat tolerant plants to grow, because there is a definite possibility of this happening again due to climate change, and water conservation should always be kept in mind.
– Pam Erikson is owner of Erikson’s Daylily Gardens
and Perennials and president of the Langley Garden Club