It’s shaping up to be a hot summer, with temperatures already approaching triple digits in parts of the United States. Do you know the basics of helping extreme heat plant survival?
Water More Often
Just like the rest of us, plants need more water during extreme heat. The plant’s survival depends on getting enough hydration, so you’ll need to increase the frequency and depth of your watering. It’s still best to water early in the morning, but you can add a second session in the early evening, too.
Avoid watering at night, however, since the lingering moisture can lead to rot and fungal disease. Remember to water plants at the root! Even if the plant is wilting, spraying the leaves with water won’t help.
Give Some Shade
Even plants that usually thrive in full sun may need some shade on blisteringly hot days. Shift containers to a spot where they can have a few hours of respite from the sun’s rays–or, if moving them isn’t an option, bring shade to them in the form of a patio umbrella.
For in-ground garden plants, try draping them with either burlap or specialty sunshade cloth.
Add More Mulch
You can’t go wrong with more mulch. In this case, an extra layer of insulation can mean the difference between plant survival or failure in extreme heat. That’s because mulch helps trap water in the soil, where it can be used by the roots.
It also shields the ground from absorbing radiant energy from the sun, helping to keep the temperature down.
When a major heat wave strikes, plants go into survival mode. That means they’ll focus on not dying–and cut back on flowering and fruiting. You may lose an entire crop of peppers or squash to unseasonable heat when the flowers simply drop off.
Sadly, there’s not much you can do about it at that point.
If your garden plants are already producing fruit, pick them early and often! It takes a lot of energy for a tomato plant to maintain a ripe fruit on the vine.
Plus, your tender produce is vulnerable to getting cooked in the hot, humid summer air.
Hold the Fertilizer
Some beginner gardeners believe that adding fertilizer–particularly chemical fertilizers from a Big Box store–will cure all ills. That’s simply not true. During times of extreme heat, your plants just want to maintain the status quo.
Dumping fertilizer on them won’t help–and in fact, it can damage and weaken plants that are already struggling.