Keeping Plants Happy in the Heat with Mike Darcy

August 3, 2017

Knowing the weather predictions for the next few days, I was up early this morning to get my plants watered before the heat of the day. If the weather prediction is accurate, for the next few days we will have temperatures over 100 degrees. Not only we will be suffering, especially for those without air conditioning, but we need to think about our plants and what they might be going through.

In my garden, I have found that many plants will have wilted leaves and yet I know there is sufficient moisture in the soil. With high temperatures, some plants may wilt simply because they cannot absorb as much water as they need. While I realize that it is a temporary ‘fix’, I often spray wilted plants with water on hot days and this will usually perk them up again. Often when plants get stressed for water, the leaves will scorch. Hosing them with water several times on very hot days will usually prevent this.

For me, having a water wand is indispensable for watering potted plants. Early morning watering can be quite enjoyable with a water wand in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. I find at this time of day, it is often cool and quiet and I enjoy watching the hummingbirds already busy collecting nectar. Potted plants, especially hanging baskets, need extra care during these hot summer days. I have some pots that I need to water twice a day. Also, be aware that some pots, depending on the material they are made of, can become very hot and roots may burn without adequate moisture.

Any trees, shrubs or perennials that have been recently planted will also need extra water at this time. Their roots have probably not had enough time to spread and they are limited in the space they have to draw moisture from. If you have added compost, bark dust or another amendment to the soil, be sure to check to be certain that water is going through it. I have found that often a sort of barrier can form when these materials have dried out and water will run off the surface without penetrating into the soil. If this happens, scratch the area with a rake to break the barrier and then water.

Soaker hoses are a good way to water plants without allowing much of the water to evaporate. Be sure to check them regularly to be sure they are providing water where it is needed. With drip irrigation systems, which are often used for watering pots, check these constantly to be certain the flow of water is adequate.
Do most of your watering in the early morning or evening to prepare your plants for the hot day ahead.
Make use of these hot days and walk around your garden and observe your plants. Maybe there are some that are in a sunny location and would be better in a shaded area. Make notes of what might need to be moved at a later date. Gardens need to be edited constantly.

Don’t let yourself stress for water and don’t let your plants stress either.