CHENNAI: The rains and mild showers are here, and this is a good season for flowering plants. “Flowering plants such as thunder lily, impatiens, sugandhi and dianthus,” suggests Savitha GV, who works at Daily Dump. She adds even vegetables such as various gourds and pumpkin grow well during these months. B Sridhar, who is a horticulturist at Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, says that mostly all plants can be grown during the rains. “But flowering plants do particularly well… phlox, zinnia, holyoke or hollyhock and marigold.” If you have wanted to have bougainvillea draped over your garden wall, you could try starting now.
Soil should be loose and be able to breathe, so that the water channels can keep running. “Soil that has good drainage and does not hold water, preferably mixed with coco peat and compost in the ratio of two parts soil (red or otherwise), one part coco peat and one part compost,” says Savitha. “It should also be a little loose so that they don’t choke the roots.”. Sridhar agrees that flowering plants need soil with good drainage. “It should be loose so that the roots can move easily in the soil and gather all the nutrients possible. The soil should also have good amount of organic matter.”
When you are to pot the seed or sapling, you should not bury them too deep or too shallow. “The root zone is determined by the depth and width of the hole you dig into the soil,” says Sridhar. “Phlox, zinnia, holyoke and marigold require half a foot depth, these can be grown in a pot,” he says. “If you are planting seeds, then don’t bury them too deep unless the seeds are really big. Just a thin layer of soil covering the seed should be sufficient. If you are planting saplings or plants, make sure
you completely bury the roots and also have some loose soil around the roots for them adjust to the new environment,” says Savitha.
These are cloudy days, says Savitha, so plants can use all the sunlight they can get. Sridhar says that you cannot get too much sunlight. “Every plant requires good sunlight because they are the source of energy,” he says. Daily Dump’s Savitha suggests organic compost for garden, and that stands for all seasons. “Any of these fertilizers are good… organic compost made from kitchen waste, vermicomposting, cow dung, or horse manure. Diluted Neem oil or panchagavya can be used as pesticides,” she says. Sridhar believes that plants need nitrogen for their roots and potassium is needed for fruits. “Micronutrients such as boron, magnesium, manganese, copper and such are required in a very small quantity but they are very essential,” he says.
Water level should be monitored closely because too much can flood the soil and harden it. “The water required for these plants should be in an optimum level,” says Sridhar, adding, “every pot might require 20 ml of water. Water depends on the volume of the soil.” Savitha says that rains are enough, “unless it gets too sunny for two days in a row and does not rain at all on those days. Best is to check if the soil is moist. If not, then they need water.”You do not need a large expanse for your monsoon garden. “About two to two and a half feet for each plant should be fine,” says Savitha. “The gourds do not need much of ground space since they are creepers. They should have good support to climb up and spread where they can get good sunlight.”