Your plants can’t run for cover during hot, sunny days. Use these tips to help them survive heat and drought.
Hot, dry days can wilt plants and leave them vulnerable to diseases and attacks from bugs, which seem to thrive no matter how hot or wet it gets. Your plants are tougher than you think, but only if you help them out by equipping them with the tools and conditions they need to survive the heat.
Choose and locate plants wisely
Sure, your vision is a group of hostas on a sunny corner by the pool. But hostas require shade, and no matter how much water you pour on them, they won’t do well in the sun. The best way to keep plants cool is to make sure you choose plants native to your region when possible and place them according to their sun and water needs. Avoid placing high-water plants on hills, where water drains off, or find a way to well the water. Check nursery tags, reputable online sites, or your best local gardening books. Some of the plants native to your area have adapted to learn how to cool themselves. You just add water as needed!
Of course, container plants are mobile. If your plant appears to be getting too much or too little sun, you can move the container, even following the sun’s path throughout the season. Just be sure to water your container plants more than those in the ground, especially when they’re growing and flowering in the summer. Clay pots require more water than glazed or plastic ones.
Automatic sprinklers are the easiest watering tools, but not the best way to make sure your plants thrive in the heat. They need deep irrigation so the roots will grow deeply. With sprinklers, most of the water goes onto leaves and evaporates into the air, which also wastes water. It might be the most efficient method for grass, but not for flower beds and vegetable gardens.
Water in the morning when you can to prepare your plant for the day’s heat and to prevent diseases from moisture sitting on leaves over cool afternoons and evenings.
Mulch keeps plants cool
We just can’t oversell quality mulch. Mulch holds in water, which is good when it’s hot and dry outside. The water trapping also works like an evaporative cooler, helping to cool the plant’s roots. Organic mulches are best for cooling plants, but be sure to use them only for ornamentals and edibles that can stay a little wet throughout the day. Some plants, such as lavender, do poorly with “wet feet.” Stones and gravel reflect heat, so if you have a xeric landscape, be sure to select plants that can handle both dry and hot conditions.
Sometimes, your lawn design adds heat that you don’t expect. If there’s a spot in your yard that seems hot and stuffy because of reflection from the patio hardscape and the house trapping heat, your plant feels it too. Don’t be afraid to move your plant around, especially if it’s in a container. If it’s planted, help it hold on until the best time to transplant. And don’t fear fertilizer. Even though the air is hot, a little food and nutrition can’t hurt. Just be sure to follow the directions and use a quality, balanced product.
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