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'Green' heatwave relief: Plants that cool your house down
Monday, June 13, 2022 @ 8:03 PM

SUMMER has come early to Spain this year, and the first heatwave is already frying us – well over a month before it normally would. 

The mercury soaring into the mid-30s or even low 40s is something we kind of expect during the period known in Spain as the canícula, based upon the Romans' association between the Dog Star and the hottest month of the year; said to be a time when weather conditions are stable and calm but when the thermometer goes off the scale, heatwaves in the western Mediterranean are most likely to occur between mid-July and mid-August.

But not in late May and early June, for heavens' sakes. 

Still, there's a surprisingly 'decorative' way of keeping cool inside your home, at times of the day when you cannot escape by heading to the beach, without having the air-con running full-blast – or sitting inches away from a fan at top speed if you haven't got air-con at all.

Certain species of plant which are popular indoors and, sometimes, outdoors, pump out oxygen and purify the air – and this, it seems, also serves to cool it down.

Luckily, the ones which are the most effective are typically low-maintenance, and do not suffer too much in the hands of incompetent gardeners – so, even if you're the type whose silk flowers wither up and turn to pot pourri practically overnight, and who wouldn't even trust themselves with floral-patterned curtains in case they turned brown and dropped dead petals everywhere, you might still find you can keep these little fellas green and upright. 

As always, ensure plants are out of reach of pets, as many are toxic for cats and dogs – and cats have a cute little habit of using pots as litter trays, which won't contribute greatly to your green-fingered ambitions.


Aloe Vera

This grows just as well in a garden – in a bed as well as a pot – as it does on a terrace or indoors, and thrives in bright sunlight, so you can even put it in your window to block out excess rays at those times of day when the raging red star that's melting us all alive at the moment trains its energy on the glass.

Elegant and attractive indoors, aloe vera plants also cool down the room (photo: Ikea)

In fact, if you keep it in pots on your terrace, you would be well advised to move it under cover during the rainy season – excess water can rot its roots.

To this end, it normally only needs watering about twice a week – less in winter if you keep it outside.

Plant it in a deep, wide pot, to give the roots space to spread out; 'standard' soil sold in plastic sacks in your local Chinese bazaar is perfectly healthy enough for aloe vera, although they flourish better if you use a soil specially designed for cacti.

Generally, they need very little feeding, and as a succulent, they are very hardy, slow-growing and retain their moisture.



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