Gardeners often struggle in the scorching heat of summer as their plants are at a higher risk of wilting. But for Gujarat’s Raja Chadha, this season is when his aquatic plants thrive.

“Living in an area that has hot and dry summers, I was looking for a natural solution to reduce the temperature of my surroundings,” says the 51-year-old engineer.

So in 2017, he decided to grow aquatic plants that would absorb the heat on his terrace and keep his home cool. He placed 10 pots on his 1,500 sq ft terrace to grow water lilies.

Today, he has 300 pots with 200 varieties of aquatic plants — such as avalanche lily, purple joy, Panama pacific lily, water bamboo, and water cabbage.

He did not choose locally available aquatic plants, such as lotuses, as their flowers bloom only once in 3-4 months. But, water lilies bloom once a day.

Like any other flowering plant, lilies too cannot handle extreme temperatures. To avoid harsh sunlight during summers, he installed a green overhead net on his terrace.

“I add a layer of vermicompost, self-releasing fertiliser, clayey soil, and fine sand to plant. These layers help hold the plant in place, enable their growth, and provide nutrition,” he says.

“No separate maintenance or addition of nutrients is required. I refill water whenever the level drops,” says Raja.

To ensure that the water in drums does not become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, he breeds guppy fish that eat the larvae in pots.

He adds that the plants and water absorb most of the heat, and do not allow it to penetrate the house.