Holidays

Summer holidays mean leaving plants without watering, feeding or misting for two, three or more weeks. If there are no friends or neighbours who can help, perhaps the best thing to do is to stand the pots on water-absorbent plastic matting and then allow water to drip onto the matting through a tube from a water container placed higher than the plants.

You can stand a group of plants together, with moist peat or newspaper packed between them and polythene sheeting over the moist material, or you can push fibre-glass wicks into the pot base, with one end teased out into separate strands and placed in water. Or you can put each plant in a clear polythene bag, so that the pot as well as plant is contained, fastening the open end with a rubber band.

Whatever you do, water the plants well first and put them out of the sun, but in a good light.

In winter, most plants are resting, and cold is more likely to be the problem than lack of water. Put plants well away from windows, give sufficient water to just moisten the soil, but only just, and hope that the temperature does not fall too low.

Every plant has a time when it rests from growing and flowering, and with northern-hemisphere plants this is between mid autumn and very early spring. You can rest at this time, too, since watering will be occasional only, and feeding will not be needed, though misting is still as important, especially with the central heating turned on. However, a few plants grow during this time and this is noted under the individual descriptions in the A-Z section.

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