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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Aug 11

Beat the Heat

Posted on August 11, 2017 at 9:51 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

Petunias
 Colorful container petunias
I’ve just returned from my yearly fly fishing expedition to Canada. On the way, I also enjoyed a long weekend in Bend, Oregon, celebrating the marriage of my granddaughter. While there, I had the pleasure of visiting the groom’s parents and their beautiful home. As I drove up to the house, I couldn't help but notice the cacophony of colorful planters spilling sprays of brilliant red, purple, orange and blue flowers all over. It was a sight to behold.

However, I learned that keeping this floral show going required frequent watering, since the containers received the full hot afternoon sun. I wondered how the task could be made simpler and less labor intensive. After all, a day away could spell disaster. I inquired if they had ever experimented with using polymers in the soil. These tiny beads are added to soil at the time of planting; thereafter, they absorb water during irrigation and slowly release it back into the root zone. It seemed like an avenue to explore for future plantings and for making life more manageable.

Vacations or other extended time away from our plants can create concern for their well-being. I, too, experienced this dilemma before leaving on my journey north. Weather forecasts promised heat spells while I was away, which could prove fatal for plants without a watchful eye. I knew that new plantings, indoor plants and containers would require some special attention before my departure. Luckily, I had polymers on hand. Over the years, I’ve learned of their water- and time-saving properties and put them to good use. 

After assessing what required added attention in my absence, I added the polymers to some new indoor containers into which I transplanted thirsty root-bound plants. I also scratched the polymers into the soil of some outdoor potted plants waiting to go into a new landscaped area. These containers also benefited from a top dressing of mulch and a temporary move into a shaded area. The good news is these efforts worked: Upon my return, I found that all was well in the plant kingdom.

How are you managing your plants in the August heat, particularly when you’re away? Do you find yourself a slave to keeping container plants alive when temperatures climb? Could you benefit from these water saving crystal-like beads by adding a few tablespoons to your soil as you transplant into containers? Share your results, as well as other ideas for keeping plants happy during summer vacations. There are still many days left of August fun in the sunshine!

Have a great weekend and remember to stay hydrated.

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