Bougainvillea are an immensely showy, floriferous and hardy plant. Virtually pest-free and disease resistant, it rewards its owner with an abundance of color and vitality when it is well looked after.

Helping plants cope with heat

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One thing we should never take for granted is that a garden keeps growing. While current dry climatic conditions may restrict some garden tasks, life in a garden goes on. And so our gardens call us to continue, as there is still so much we need to do.
l Take steps to save your most valued plants. Be they gifts from friends and relatives, collectable rarities, or your favourite flowers, etc, you may consider moving them to pots, or giving them preferential mulching and watering to survive.

l Insert watering tubes next to important shrubs. These can be made from two litre cold drink bottles or sawn-off sections of PVC pipe. Water poured down the watering tubes reaches the root zone without running away from the plant.

l By pruning or lightly trimming shrubs and fillers, you regain a balanced ratio between roots and foliage. Less water will be needed for a slightly smaller plant. Don’t cut back too much, as this will stimulate too much new growth (which requires more water).
l Keep your plants in good condition. It is still the growing season, so you should still be feeding. Starving plants will be under even more stress, which makes them susceptible to diseases. Make use of slow release fertilisers like Bounceback, Sudden Impact, organic 3:1:5 or chemical 3:1:5 (26) SR. Bonemeal is a great fertiliser for hardening off plants, without making them shoot out too much. You can also use soluble fertilisers such as Seagro or Nitrosol, which are not as strong as standard granular feeds.

l Cover large tracts of exposed soil in beds. Exposure to wind, and the baking effect of sun damages surface roots, and leads to evaporation of valuable water. Plant water- wise ground covers such as portulaca, verbena, aptenia or felicia close together, to help shade and shelter the soil around your plants. Alternatively, make use of a thick mulch of bark chips, gravel, pine needles or dry grass clippings to cover exposed soil.
l Construct ridges, rises and berms around plants or whole beds to trap water around your plants. These “dams” encourage water to soak into the soil directly around the roots.

l Add some joy to life in your garden. A small pot on the patio or at the front door is easy to maintain. Use some water-wise flowering plants to colour your life.

Pelargoniums, bougainvillea and lavender will bring a smile back to your garden.