With the mercury soaring by the day, it can be difficult to keep your plants healthy and hydrated. My Kolkata caught up with a few gardening experts from the city to learn how you can keep your plants thriving, even in this heat.
‘It is important to protect the plants from sun’s UV rays’
Dinesh Rawat, founder of Green Mall
Dinesh Rawat, founder of Green Mall, has been gardening for over 20 years. Emphasising on the fundamentals, he said, “In summer, you need to water plants more often than in monsoon or winter, especially if they are kept in an open space, like the terrace. The plants should also be covered with a shade so that they get partial sunlight instead of the sun’s full impact, which has harmful ultraviolet rays.”
Rawat added that a terrace garden offers the biggest challenge during summer. “By nature, a plant is supposed to be in the soil, but here it is in a pot. The pot receives heat from all sides including the bottom, since most roofs are made of concrete that heat up very fast. We must ensure that the pot is placed on thermocol or any other insulated surface to protect from heat. Beyond this, plants will themselves speak out if they need water or fertilisers. It is a gardener’s duty to listen keenly.”
‘This heat is a major cause of burnt leaves’
Atin Basu, a gardening expert, who has judged several leading flower shows in Bengal
Atin Basu has judged all leading flower shows in Bengal and maintains a gorgeous garden at his Kharda home since 1985. He discussed the issue of temperature gardening in his latest YouTube video too. “This heat is a major cause of burnt leaves. It has also led to an increase in attacks by red mites and thrips. To combat this, potted plants need to be sprayed with miticide. Moreover, water is like an elixir and providing adequate water in these two months is crucial for the plants,” said Basu, who also has a Facebook group exclusively for people who love roses, with almost 5,000 members.
A common consensus among most experienced gardeners is that no plant dies of its own accord and a common cause is giving it excess water or medicine.
‘Approach the plants with the same empathy as humans’
Biswajit Das started gardening during the lockdown
Biswajit Das, who started gardening during the lockdown and set up a sprawling green cover on his 2,500 sq ft terrace, feels that it is important to approach plants with the same empathy as humans.
It is important to approach plants with the same empathy as humans, feels Das
“Even keeping humans healthy in this heat can be a challenge, so it is natural that it will be much harder for plants. But keeping them indoors isn’t always viable, as gardening is very tough without sunlight. I personally water the plants thrice — first before sunrise, then in the afternoon, and finally after sunset — so that there is enough reserve water till the next sunrise. If I fail, the plants will go dry. Even the watering process must be like a human bath, where you ensure that the entire plant gets hydration and not just the top. If water accumulates on the plant’s roof, it can destroy its growth. In addition to water, add compost to the soil so that the plant gets its nutrition on time,” he said.
‘Go with plants that are easier to care’
Berries from Das's garden
For people who are just starting out with gardening, Das recommended going with plants that are easier to take care of in this weather. “You should definitely try dragonfruit, mango or pomegranate that thrive in this weather. I have 12 types of lemon plants and each does very well with minimum care.”
Das, who also happens to be the head of the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication at Maharaja Manindra Chandra College sums up the beauty of gardening perfectly. “The relationship I have cultivated with plants is quite similar to that with my students. The satisfaction I feel when my students do well in exams and get good jobs, is similar to how I feel when the plants I tend to bear fruits and flowers,” he signed off.