Caring for any plants that are grown during a heat wave can sometimes become problematical.
During an average summer, cuttings and very young plants will require a certain amount of extra care. The delicate roots, especially those that are in contact with the side of a plastic pot, could be prone to overheating created by the heat from the sun and possibly cause ‘scorching’, thus inflicting irreparable damage.
One method of overcoming this probability is the process of ‘double potting’ (see diagram) and is particularly relevant when the plants are in very small pots. The cavity can be filled with a dry peat based compost or any other material with insulation qualities.
A bi-product of adapting this method to more mature plants in larger pots may also reduce the necessity of having to water them.
There is every chance we may experience a normal summer this year and for this reason there’s no time like the present for preparing for such an occasion to keep your plants growing in an ideal atmosphere. As a suggestion, why not construct yourself a Shade House?
A Shade House is basically a greenhouse where the glass is replaced with netting, and because of this there is very little chance of any drastic temperature fluctuations. Various materials may be used for the construction ranging from a ‘do–it–yourself’ timber frame to the pre-formed kit used to manufacture fruit cages. The structure doesn’t necessarily need a gabled roof but make sure the construction allows plenty of ‘head room’. The average person should be able to stand upright whilst tending their plants. Ensure there is a wide opening to allow plenty of room to transport plants into and out of the structure without the possibility of damaging any of them (often a design fault with some greenhouses).
Without a waterproof roof, great attention must be towards the preparation of the floor area. Rain water must be able to drain away quickly thus preventing the possibility of flooding. The idea is for the floor to retain moisture without the possibility of persistent rain ‘water-logging’ any of the potted plants standing on it. A recommendation would be to remove 1½” of soil and then spread a layer of coarse sand to a depth of approximately 1” in the depression to protect a weed preventive membrane which is placed over it and finally this is covered with at least 1” – 1½” of pea gravel.
Netting can be purchased in a variety of shade factors ranging from 30% to 70%. The most beneficial shade level for fuchsias is about 35%. Green is generally accepted as an ideal colour with a shade value of 35% – 40%. Rain coming into contact with the outside of the netting will be reduced to a fine mist, which will generally provide your fuchsias with the ideal climatic conditions. Air will pass through the netting which will also act as a wind break, consequently preventing your treasured plants being blown over and damaged. Little or no maintenance is required on the netting which will normally last for many years. A bonus is that this structure will also protect your plants from hailstones.
Take extra precaution to ensure the floor is correctly prepared as this is the most important factor to ensure the humidity within the structure is kept at an ideal level during the possibility of a hot and sunny period.