Plants that have suffered thirst
Returning from holidays can be traumatic for those who love plants. Unfortunately, many of us are forced to abandon them just at the time that is most difficult for them because of the heat and the lack of rain. An automatic irrigation system cannot always be set up or we have people to rely on.
To reduce damage to a minimum it is first of all essential to practice some tricks before leaving.
What to do before leaving?
The subjects most at risk are certainly those in pots: the little land available dries quickly and then begins to heat up. Then move them into the shade, give them a deep saucer and prepare a thick mulch before proceeding with an abundant irrigation. We can also wrap the container with an insulating material: we will reduce the impact of the heat wave.
The most fragile plants, especially the herbaceous ones, survive more easily if they are pruned drastically, removing most of their leaves.
On the market there are specific soils for these occurrences (rich in clay, organic material and water pearls). We replace at least the most superficial layer (or we repot, without disturbing the roots, and we use the product for integration). Also interesting are the sprinklers to be connected to a bottle: they guarantee autonomy for at least a week.
On the way back: irrigation and hydration
We carry out a sort of triage by separating the slightly affected plants from those with serious damage. The first will recover quickly with frequent watering and maybe a light cleaning from the dry leaves. For the others, a more drastic approach is needed.
To rehydrate them quickly we fill the buckets (or, if there are many, the bathtub) and leave them in "soak" for a few hours, until we see an obvious recovery.
To further facilitate vegetative awakening we continue to water often, for at least a week. Very frequent are the frequent nebulizations of the foliage, especially during the hottest hours of the day. We also wet the floor or distribute in the area of containers filled with expanded clay, which should always be kept moist.
Shading and pruning
Plants that have suffered a similar trauma, to recover, must undergo very little stress. For this reason it is important to continue to keep them in a shaded, cool and sheltered area.
If we have not done it before we will prepare a thick mulch on the surface, based on plant material (excellent straw and hay): the roots, fresher, will resume more quickly to develop.
Those less in need of light can be brought inside 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 dry and, in any case, at least half of the aerial part.
How to resume a plant that has suffered thirst: Repotting and fertilizing
The repottings are not strictly necessary: it is often better to leave the roots calm. If we realize, however, that the earth cannot hold 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 to a quality soil.
Fertilizations, especially if rich in nitrogen, must be avoided: they can cause burns at the level of the roots. Furthermore, stimulating vegetative growth in debilitated specimens simply 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 by irrigation (perhaps in halved doses) or by frequent leaf sprays.