What to do before you leave?
The most at risk subjects are certainly those in pots: the little soil available dries quickly and then begins to warm up. Let’s move them to the shade, give them a deep saucer and prepare a thick mulch before proceeding to an abundant irrigation. We can also wrap the container with an insulating material: we will reduce the impact of the heatwave.
The most fragile plants, especially the herbaceous ones, survive more easily if they are drastically pruned, removing a good part of their leaves.
On the market there are also specific soils for these events (rich in clay, organic material and water pearls). At least replace the most superficial layer (or repot, without disturbing the roots, and use the product for integration). Also interesting are the sprinklers to be connected to a bottle: they guarantee autonomy for at least one week.
On return: irrigation and hydration
Let’s carry out a sort of triage separating the slightly affected plants from those with serious damage. The first ones will recover quickly with frequent watering and maybe a light cleaning of the dry leaves. For the others, a more drastic approach is necessary.
To rehydrate them quickly we fill buckets (or, if there are many, the bathtub) and let them “soak” for a few hours, until we see a clear recovery.
To further facilitate the vegetative awakening, let’s continue to water often, for at least one week. The frequent nebulisations of the canopy are also very useful, especially during the hottest hours of the day. Let’s also wet the floor or distribute in the area of containers full of expanded clay, to be kept always moist.
Shading and pruning
Plants that have suffered such a trauma must be subjected to very little stress in order to recover. That’s why it’s important to keep them in a shady, cool and sheltered area.
If we have not done so before, we prepare a thick mulch on the surface, based on plant material (excellent straw and hay): the roots, cooler, will resume faster to develop.
Those less in need of light can be brought in for a few days: they will benefit a lot, especially if we have air conditioning.
It is also essential to reduce transpiration and lighten the load on the roots: herbaceous, suffruticose or small shrubs recover more quickly if they are immediately subjected to a fairly drastic pruning, eliminating all the dryness and, in any case, at least half of the aerial part.
How to revive a plant that has suffered thirst: Repottings and fertilization
Repotting is not strictly necessary: it is often better to leave the roots quiet. However, if we realise that the soil cannot retain the water (due to the abundance of peat) we can intervene: working very gently we eliminate the substrate as much as possible, but without breaking the roots. Better performance is obtained by mixing a good percentage of heavy garden soil with a high-quality soil.
Fertilisation, especially if rich in nitrogen, should be avoided: it can cause root burns. Furthermore, stimulating vegetative growth in debilitated specimens only weakens them further. An excellent support can come instead from products based on algae or with a lot of organic carbon or with specific amino acids, to be administered through irrigation (perhaps at half doses) or through frequent foliar nebulisations.
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