5 Ways to Protect Plants from Summer Heat

Keep Your Garden Growing in the Heat of Summer!

May 11, 2020

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Extreme summer heat can be as exhausting for our plants as it is for us, but you can make life easier for them by deploying a few simple strategies. In this short video we’ll share five tried and tested ways to take the stress out of the heatwave for your plants.

By using smart watering techniques, providing shade and removing other stressors you can help keep those harvests coming, even during very hot, dry weather.

Here are five major ways to help your plants cope with the heat this summer.

1. Water the Right Way

To figure out when to water your plants, check soil daily by pushing a finger into the soil. Water if it’s dry an inch or two below the surface. A deep soaking every few days is better than a daily sprinkle on the surface.

Water early in the morning while it’s still cool and evaporation is slow.

Work soil into ridges around plants to create bowls. Water into these and the ridges will prevent water running away over the surface, giving it time to soak in near the roots. Or sink old pots or bottles into the soil next to plants and water into these.

If you’re unable to water daily in hot weather, a drip irrigation system controlled by a timer is a good idea.

Keep a close eye on container plants. They may need watering more than once a day, especially in windy conditions. Make sure the water is being absorbed fully into the potting soil, rather than just slipping down cracks between the potting soil and the wall of the container. Pour until water runs out of the bottom of the container, and use pot saucers under containers to retain the water for longer.

Learn more about when and how to water your garden.

2. Reduce Evaporation from the Soil

After watering, mulch with organic material such as compost, leaves, or grass clippings to shade the soil, keep the root zone cooler, and reduce evaporation.

Shade the soil with a living mulch by planting densely and/or using plants like squashes that are vigorous or have large leaves.

Read more about using mulch.

3. Don’t Fertilize in Hot Weather

Adding nutrients prompts plants to grow more, putting them under more stress in hot weather. Plus, they’ll need even more water to process the fertilizer, too! Stop fertilizing when it gets above 85-90ºF or when plants roll up their leaves, drop their flowers, or stop producing new flowers.

4. Provide Shade

Use shade cloth or other fabric such as old bed sheets pinned onto frames or hoops to provide shade for plants.

Cool-season vegetables, for instance cabbage and lettuce, and fruits such as strawberries, will particularly enjoy shade from hot afternoon sun.

5. Harvest Sooner Rather Than Later

Harvesting fruits or leaves promptly will help save your plant’s energy. Harvest partially-ripened fruits such as tomatoes and finish ripening them in the kitchen to give your plants a break. Plants might slow down in hot weather, but yields should increase again once the weather cools.

Try Out the Almanac Garden Planner for Free

As a courtesy, the online Almanac Garden Planner is free for 7 days. This is plenty of time to play around on your computer and try it out. There are absolutely no strings attached. We are most interested in encouraging folks to try growing a garden of goodness! 

Try out the Garden Planner on your computer (for free).

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