The long cold, damp spring is behind us – but in the blink of an eye our gardens have been thrust into the fires of hell – at least that’s what it has felt like with the record high temperatures lately.
As gardeners, we have had the luxury of not having to water for such a long spell this year – as the wet spring was actually too wet for a while and we wondered if our plants might drown.
They didn’t – instead they recovered nicely – but then came this heat.
So now we must remember that while we humans must hydrate to stay healthy, the same goes for the plants.
We try to grow as many drought-tolerant plants as possible, but annuals, certain moisture-loving perennials, plants in containers and hanging baskets, hydrangeas, roses, and a multitude of other plants do require a little more attention right now.
Water conservation is very difficult for gardeners, but we are having to learn it more and more each year.
Our goal every year is to plant materials that require less water, to amend the garden beds with organic mulch to help hold in the moisture, and to collect water in rain barrels to use when needed.
All of these things will help both your garden and save you hours of work in the long run.
We are often asked about water barrels harbouring mosquito larvae.
A simple trick is to put a few drops of olive oil into the barrel – this has worked well for us for years, keeping the mosquitoes at bay and the oil is not harmful to your plants.
We have also been asked if perennials can be transplanted at this time of year.
First, I never recommend moving plants when it is this hot, but if you really have to (for example you are moving and need to take plants with you), then keep one thing in mind – anything you dig up at this time of year must be trimmed back in order for the root system to recover from the move.
Daylilies, hostas, ferns, and astilbes – to name a few – will transplant easily as long as cut back.
Peonies would not be so happy, so try to leave them until fall if possible.
Bulbs can be moved once all the foliage has completely died down, signifying that the bulb has taken in its nourishment to survive.
I believe we have been asked this question a lot lately due to the activity in the housing market and so many people wish to take their plants with them.
If you dig up more woody plants such as roses, shrubs, trees etc – you will take your chances.
They will not be happy and in many cases will not survive.
Rhododendrons, on the other hand, are shallow rooted and amazingly adaptable – we have seen them moved in the middle of summer and lived on (having been seriously pruned, of course).
Finally, in the heat of the summer, the Oriental lilies are starting to bloom – filling the air with their wonderful fragrance, and the bonus is that they do so well without watering.
The more plants we can utilize in our gardens that are drought tolerant, the better.
– Pam Erikson is owner of Erikson’s Daylily Gardens and Perennials in Langley and president of the Langley Garden Club.