There are plants that will thrive in the most shady situations and others that are true sun-worshippers. The first group need a sunless place that allows only the early morning sun to infiltrate a little; such as, facing north or northeast. But even for plants that like standing in the sunshine there is a risk in the fierce heat of the noonday sun, although some species with colored and hairy leaves are extremely tolerant in this respect. Always protect your plants from the afternoon sun by some sort by screen or blind, should this be too much of a good thing for them. Like us, plants can also suffer in the summer through lack of fresh air.
Open a top window if possible or use a ventilator to allow the rising warm air to escape. If the noise of traffic will let it, open your windows during the day. Some plants respond very well to being placed outside during the summer, but it is better to ‘plunge’ the plants complete with their pots in a bed of earth than simply to stand them somewhere outdoors.
This can cause the root-ball to dry out, and the plant could also be knocked over by the wind. It is advisable to put your plants outside in good growing weather. However, when they taken indoors again in the autumn, be careful not to tear of the roots that may have grown through the bottom of the pot.
It helps if you turn the pots in their earth bed every two weeks, lifting them a little at the same time, if possible. This will curb the plant’s natural inclination to put out too many roots both in and through the pot, particularly during active growth. When you plunge the plants in the earth, allow some space under the pot to prevent garden pests from entering through the drainage hole.
They can also be placed on a balcony or patio, plunged in suitable tubs or through filled with peat fibre. Large plants could be also be placed outside in their tubs or trough; pack these large containers in black plastic to prevent drying out. Don’t put the plants outdoors too early; knight frost could be a common occurrence at the beginning of May and this is fatal for all houseplants.
Plants need far more moisture in the summer than in the winter, and if plants watered early in the morning they are better able to tolerate the heat of the day. With some species the soil is already dried out again by evening, and these have given a second watering. However, it is better to cactus plants being dried again before evening. Plants that placed outside during the summer checked daily. Restricted in their pots, they profit little from the moisture and food in the surrounding soil.
Most plants are in full growth during the summer, and in this busy period they not only need more water but also regular feeding. Flowering plants are greatly aided by a weekly feed of houseplant fertiliser and foliage plants respond well to a fortnightly spray with a proprietary foliage feed, which dissolved in water and sprayed into the leaves. We can give acid-loving plants, such as Bromelia and ferns, an organic fertiliser or alternate an organic feed with a compound liquid fertiliser.
Authors: A. C. Muller-Idzerda, Elisabeth de Lestrieux, Jonneke Krans