Connect with us

Thai Life

Gardening: Dealing with dry spells

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

PHUKET: While we are used to the onset of the dry season in Phuket every November, this year has been a bit different, as the monsoon was more prolonged and the drought, once it did arrive, has been more extreme.

Not a drop of rain since New Year’s Day in my bit of the island means that we are having to reach for our hoses more often. If we don’t have a well or a reliable mains supply, it’s necessary to call more often on the services of the water tanker.

When workers dug my well seven years ago, they encountered a layer of granite so thick that not even dynamite could crack the natural barrier. So at this time of year when the main water supply is under pressure from the rash of condominiums, I too am dependent on the water man.

So what about priorities in the xeric garden? It’s a common sense answer, actually. Your container plants will need more attention since they will dry out more rapidly, so prioritize them. The same goes for any plants that are used to moist conditions and whose roots are used to lots of water. I am thinking of the usual culprits: canna lilies, heliconias, most varieties of ginger, leea rubra (commonly known as the red tree), sambucus or sweet elder and even jasminium rex.

Of course, small plants are always more at risk, since they have less developed root systems. Most perennials or sizable shrubs will fare better than annuals. Newly transplanted ones are the most vulnerable of all.

In fact, at this time of the year, I would counsel gardeners to put potted plants in open beds only when absolutely necessary. A daily inspection will reveal the struggles: telltale drooping foliage, leaf loss and in some cases, yellowing or browning of the leaves.

All these authorial strictures will be out of date once we have a couple of heavy downpours, but at the moment this outcome looks unlikely.

Most plants that thrive in tropical conditions are built to endure dry spells. They often possess leathery leaves, which allow little evaporation through their stomata (think figs, limes and plumerias) and many varieties are not averse to dropping any foliage that is surplus to requirements.

The magnolia tree (michaelia champaca) in my garden is a case in point: it is now shedding masses of large leaves and will continue to do so until it gets a real drenching or two.

Other shrubs and trees behave differently: they will stop producing sappy-green growth, which takes its toll on underground water supplies, and instead produce gorgeous displays of bloom. By producing flowers, the plant is saying that foliar growth needs to be superceded by reproduction, since blooms rapidly give way to seeds.

Thus we have magnificent displays of ixoras, allamandas and bougainvilleas at present, and down the road a coral vine (antigogon leptus) is in full flower, impervious to the fact that the soil at its roots is bone dry.

Other shrubs that are revelling in the conditions include varieties of verbena, lantana, acalyphas and, in my garden, an Indian rubber vine. Desert shrubs such as adeniums, crowns of thorns and cactus-like perekias are also dressed in their Sunday best.

This reminds me: My local temple boasts a fine display of Saraca indica or asoka. The trees – which are revered in Buddhist mythology – are currently bearing dense, upturned clusters of flowers, tiny orange florets, which massed together produce lilac-sized blooms. These flowers appear, as is the case with so many other shrubs and trees, after pronounced dry weather. Hence this year’s fine display.

The asoka is definitely a small tree to consider for your garden, especially if you have a shady spot, since these trees grow beneath taller trees in their native habitat. It has a neat shape and attractive pinnate leaves, and it will please your Thai visitors.

However, don’t try and plant one now. It needs lots of moisture while it is getting established. In the words of the song, “save it for a rainy day”.

Catch Patrick online at PhuketGazette.net Sunday morning next week, when he reveals more of his gardening expertise.

— Patrick Campbell

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand38 mins ago

Royal Thai Police say bitterleaf can’t cure Covid

Coronavirus (Covid-19)58 mins ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 18,901 new cases, provincial totals

Thailand1 hour ago

Air Asia technician arrested for allegedly stealing electronics

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Pattaya2 hours ago

“Pattaya Move On” reopening likely to be postponed as Covid cases surge

Thailand2 hours ago

3 metre long python caught near family’s house in Phuket

Thailand3 hours ago

Government says not to buy Favipiravir/Avigan online, says it might be fake

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Phuket3 hours ago

Phuket bans alcohol sales at restaurants, issues order amid rise of Covid cases

Best of3 hours ago

Top 5 Mexican restaurants in Pattaya

Thailand4 hours ago

Good Morning Thailand | New restrictions, new Red Line train in Bangkok, Covid latest

Thailand4 hours ago

Ministry of Public Health says Pfizer vaccine will be allocated correctly, others disagree

Cambodia5 hours ago

Rollout of Covid-19 vaccination for teenagers gets underway in Cambodia

Phuket5 hours ago

Man goes missing off Freedom Beach, Phuket

Phuket5 hours ago

Phuket tourism sector calls for island to be “green-listed” for foreign tourists – VIDEO

Best of5 hours ago

Phuket’s best day trips and tours

Business5 hours ago

What is so important about the Sandbox?

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending