Nurturing Roses with Atlantic Fertilisers: A Conversation with Gail Briss, Chairperson of The Midlands Rose Society
November 1, 2023
Poolside Gardens
December 1, 2023
Nurturing Roses with Atlantic Fertilisers: A Conversation with Gail Briss, Chairperson of The Midlands Rose Society
November 1, 2023
Poolside Gardens
December 1, 2023

Self-parenting plants

We know that the struggle is real when planning a trip – who will look after your plant children and will they get enough water? As such, we would like to help all the plant moms and dads with some DIY upcycling watering hacks and drought-hardy plant picks that will help your garden self-parent while you enjoy a much-deserved holiday.

Short trip bottle watering (outdoors – 3 to 4 days)

  • Larger beds (use multiple bottles) or containers in full sun to semi-shade.
  • Empty wine bottles or any sturdy bottle with a small mouth.
  • Ensure there is space to place the bottle that won’t damage foliage or roots
  • Fill the bottle with water and then, while covering the opening with your thumb, flip it upside-down and quickly shove the bottle near the base of the plant (removing your thumb just before). Push the neck down to make sure the bottle is secure and reinforce with stones if needed.
  • If you see that the water is not moving or perhaps your soil is very clay-like, glue a mesh screen over the mouth to prevent soil from clogging the bottle opening.

Longer trip bottle dripper (outdoors – 4 to 7 days)

  • Larger beds (use multiple bottles) or containers in full sun to semi-shade.
  • Plastic water/juice bottles (size dependent on your area/container) and a drill with a thin drill bit.
  • Dig a hole near the plant that will be large enough to bury the bottle up to its neck, take care to avoid damaging roots.
  • Drill three holes at the bottle of the plastic bottle and 3 holes on each side then pop it into the prepared hole (add more holes for large bottles). Gently level the soil around the bottle and fill it with water. Your plants will receive a spread-out, long-term gentle watering as the soil dries out.
  • You may wish to test this method in larger beds to ensure your water bottle is big enough and that you have drilled enough holes as the correlation between bottle size and holes is important. Secure the lids on water bottles to prevent unnecessary evaporation.

Shade plants wick watering (indoor/patio – up to 5 days)

  • Suitable for: Container plants indoors or in shaded areas.
  • Equipment needed: A long shoelace or cotton rope, a jar/bottle/glass (250ml +)
  • Preparation: Ensure there is space to dig 5cm down without harming foliage or roots.
  • Method: Fill your chosen jar/bottle/glass with water and take it close to your plant. Place one end on the rope inside the glass so that it reaches the bottom, and dig the other end of the rope about 5cm down into your pot plant. This snazzy capillary action will prevent drought stress and ensure water reaches the roots of your plants.
  • Troubleshooting: Make sure that there is slack on the rope and that it is not tightly stretched from the glass to the pot. Also ensure that there is no way the rope could slip out or be blown out of the glass.

The best top tip: If your holiday times coincide with your plant’s growing season, you can even add liquid fertiliser to the water bottles! That’s watering AND feeding done and dusted while you relax and unwind – we love it! Remember to check your product packaging for dosing instructions or ask your GCA Garden Centre assistance for guidance.

Thirsty plants bath (indoors – up to 7 days)

  • Suitable for: Moisture-loving container plants that will survive without direct sun.
  • Equipment needed: Bathtubs, basins, and shallow buckets with low sides.  
  • Preparation: Ensure your thirsty pot plants have had some root grooming and that the bottom of the container bases are nicely cleared and unobstructed.
  • Method: Place your pot plants inside your chosen bath/basin/bucket and fill the space with enough water to submerge about a quarter of the container. The soil will continue to soak up water through the container drainage holes and remain moist until your return.
  • Troubleshooting: This method is only suitable for very thirsty plants that need constant moisture. Other plants may experience root rot – disaster. For plants that need bright light which may not be available in the bathroom, use a shallow bucket and place near a window.

Drought-hardy plant picks

If you’re in a position where you are able to plan a new garden or perhaps, you’re looking to redesign yours and do a fun plant swap, choosing water-wise plants is the easiest way to holiday without worry! We know that some plants simply steal your heart, and they may not all be drought-resistant. We recommend planting thirty babies in containers where one of the above self-watering methods can easily be applied, and then planting the hardy babies outdoors in beds. In other words – special needy plants in pots and glorious indigenous plants in beds. Your ecosystem will benefit from this strategy too as our local gems attract a variety of birdlife, pollinators, and other beneficial insects to the garden.

  • Lovely locals for beds: Crane’s bill (Geranium sanguineum), weeping love grass (Eragrostis curvula), dune crow berry (Searsia crenata), thatching reed (Eligia tectorum), silver arctotis (Arctotis stoechadifolia), and bush violet (Barleria obtusa).
  • Native blooms for pots: Agapanthus, wild dagga (Leonotis leonurus), plumbago auricuata, Cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis), ivy-leaved pelargonium (Pelargonium peltatum), and butterfly bush (Polygala fruiticosa).
  • Easy aloes for anywhere: Grey aloe (Aloe chabaudii), aloe Koeleman’s red and Koeleman’s orange, as well as aloes bushwacker, sunrise, starstruck, tiger eye, and bonfire.

Top tip: When conceptualising a water-wise landscape, plant low-growing creepers in the front of beds, followed by medium bushes in the middle, and tall-stemmed plants at the back.This will height, texture, and variation to your beds. Visit your GCA Garden Centre for a stunning selection of drought-hardy plants that suit your space and express your style.

We trust that this information has brought a sigh of relief to all our gardeners and that your holiday is filled with fun and treasured memories. May we all return to a healthy garden and enjoy the time away. Happy holidays!

Source: Life is a Garden