Today it is predicted that the temperature will reach 40 deg. Celsius here in Melbourne. Right now it is still very comfortable 24 deg. When the temperatures are very high, the back garden that suffers most as it has afternoon sun. It is during the afternoon when the heat of the sun reaches the highest mark.

Praying Mantis on Bonsai Tree

Praying Mantis is taking refuge from heat on a Bonsai Tree

One plant in the back yard that has completely scorched is Hemizygia ‘Candy Kisses’. The leaves and the upper branches are absolutely dry. I don’t think that it will die and hopefully it will grow more foliage later in autumn. Now it is under cover to protect it from more damage. The white angel wing Begonia is also suffering from sun burn, but it is not as bad.

All the Cymbidium orchids and the Bonsai trees are under a canopy made of old sheet cloth. This made up shade is very helpful to protect plants from very hot afternoon sun. During this extreme temperature, the plants that are doing very well are succulents, Coleus canina (plectrantus caninus), Murraya paniculata, Port Wine Magnolia and the thick leaved Michelia yunnanensis. Most other plants only suffer from minimum stress. Beside the Hemizygia, other plants that are not coping very well are Jacobinia pauciflora, Justicia carnea and Fuchsia sp.

Backyard Plants underneath shade of cloth. Scorched Hemizygia (in red circle)

Backyard Plants underneath shade of cloth. Scorched Hemizygia (in red circle)

Some that are doing extremely well:

Senecio globosa and Euphorbia obesa

Senecio globosa and Euphorbia obesa

Coleus canina (Plectranthus caninus)

Coleus canina (Plectranthus caninus)

Not affected by extreme heat, Hoya growing more leaves

Not affected by extreme heat, Hoya growing more leaves

Pink Water Lily

Pink Water Lily

Water is getting more and more expensive and people try to use less. Installing rain water tanks is a very good idea, but still they depend on rainfalls. Our rainwater tanks are only about 1/4 capacity as there is no significant rainfalls lately. I have to save this rainwater for the fish tubs, so there is no other choice… but to use tap water to water the plants. The plants in pots are the worse, during summer time they need watering daily, but for plants in the garden will also need water especially when temperature is getting too high and there are no recent rainfalls.

Watering Tips:

  • By regulation, use trigger hose nozzle only (for Melbourne and surrounding area/Victoria).
  • The day before the temperature reaches above 35 deg. C, water the plants in the garden preferably in the evening when the sun is setting down.
  • What the plants need is deep watering on the soil. No use to water the foliage.
  • The way I do it is by selecting each plant. Those that tolerate heat, I will water moderately. Those that are struggling under high temperature, I water deeply by really soaking the soil around the plants.
  • If the garden beds have layers of mulch, there will not be a problem with water to penetrate into the soil. But for unprotected ground, it can have problems of compacted soil that repels water. In this case, it is better to buy wetting agent / wettasoil and apply after the soil is dug and mixed with composted materials. To prevent from this problem again in the future, it is better to lay mulch on the surface of the soil.
  • Save water you use for washing vegetables and hands to water potted plants. If necessary grey water from washing machine can be used in the garden. I am not so keen to use soapy water for the garden, so this is only for an extreme case of draught. Usually I will only use water from the final rinse.

When the temperatures reach above 35 deg. C, it is better to cover the garden especially plants in pots and plants that are prone to dry up by using shade cloths or old sheets.

Update February 10, 2014

My heart goes for people in Victoria who have lost their homes, their hard work, all their belongings, their memories, their farm animals…… On TV we saw some kangaroos in their confusion ran into the burning area, instead of running away from it. It is heart braking to think how many wild animals have lost their home and their life. This summer, some heartless arsonists were suspected to have lit fires in quite a few locations in Victoria. Why, why, why?????

Thank you for fire safety programs and all the fire fighters, we have no human life lost this summer.