Gardening tips: Expert's top tricks for helping your plants survive this summer

Some days I can barely feed and water myself, let alone my plants. I too wither in the heat, can look a bit sad and limp on occasion, and will wilt rapidly from a lack of attention. 

If you also struggle to look after yourself from time-to-time, one thing you can do is learn how to take care of your flowery friends. Studies have found that plants can make you healthier and happier, offering a range of psychological and physical benefits including a better mood, reduced fatigue, lowered stress and improved focus. 

So if you have yet to transform your home and garden into a leafy oasis à la Architectural Digest due to a gross lack of green thumb, look no further - Bunnings' plant expert Clare Taylor has shared her top tips to help your plant babies survive.

First things first - the summer months are notoriously hard on our leafy pals. The soaring temperatures and harsh UV rays can cause plants to wilt and burn, much like humans. Many of us will have recently returned home from a summer getaway to find our greenery looking a bit sad and starved of water.

If you're lucky enough to have a garden, Taylor recommends using a wetting agent to bring your plants back to life. The product will soak the soil and return some much-needed hydration to the roots. 

"Wetting agents rehydrate from the roots up, strengthening the root structure and also help the soil retain its moisture," Taylor says. 

Once you've given the garden a good drink, apply a conditioning product to the soil, like Seasol PowerFeed, to revive those drooping leaves. Conditioning products can also be used on lawns, as well as most plants. 

"I'd also recommend adding an organic matter such as mulch and compost to give you that extra layer of moisture retention."

When it comes to potted plants, Taylor recommends water crystals - tiny, super-absorbent polymers, about the size of a sugar crystal. They can be added to potting mix or a garden bed to increase the soil's water holding capacity. The crystals act similarly to a sponge, soaking up the excess water and eventually releasing all that absorbed goodness into the root zone, wetting the soil and giving our plant pals a boost of hydration.

Get out your green thumb - plants are good for you!
Get out your green thumb - plants are good for you! Photo credit: Getty Images

If you're yet to dabble in plant parenthood but you have a nice stretch of lawn, Taylor has tips for you too. Leaving your grass unmown for longer is a simple but effective trick to help your lawn beat the heat. The longer the grass, the longer it can self-shade and retain water.

And while fertiliser is important for both indoor and outdoor plants, avoid overdoing it at this time of year. Too much fertiliser can cause your plants to become "overworked" and dry out - I know the feeling. Plant and soil  conditioners are preferable and will help to keep your greenery strong and healthy in the warm weather, while reducing stress on the plant and roots, Taylor adds. 

In addition to sufficient hydration, make sure your plants are also getting adequate shade to prevent them from scorching in the sun. Look for a shade cloth with a 30 to 50 percent shade rating and erect it over vulnerable plants in the garden, such as tomatoes and other fruit which are susceptible to sunburn if not protected, Taylor advises. You can create a frame using stakes or star pickets, which allow you to easily place the cover over the plants. Potted plants can be relocated to shadier spots, or set up a sun umbrella to keep them cool.

Importantly, don't forget to check the water restrictions with your local council. Wear safety equipment, such as a mask, gloves and eye protection, when applying soil wetter, compost and mulch products - and store soil products out of the reach of children and pets.

So get that green thumb into gear - maybe it will even inspire you to look after yourself a little better too!

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