Hot temperatures can be difficult for plants as well as for us. Sometimes even plants that like heat don’t do well with excessive or sudden heat.
So, what can you do to help your plants survive during the hottest parts of the year?
1. Proper watering. There is a tendency to water plants every day when the weather is hot. Plants may need watered more frequently or for longer but most plants will not need watered every day. Plants in hanging baskets or pots may be an exception. Even lawns do not need watering every day. It is said that more plants are killed by over watering than anything else. Wilting is not always a sign that plants need water. How to check for watering needs? In a few places stick your finger into the ground up to the first knuckle. Is the soil damp? Most plants can tolerate the soil getting almost dry before watering but will not tolerate wet soil. If you cannot stick your finger into the ground stick a screwdriver in. Some areas or some containers may need watered more frequently than others. Water in the cool of the morning or, if that is not possible the cool of the evening. Water at soil level whenever possible.
2. Give it some shade. Some plants prefer some shade especially when weather is hot. Lettuce, spinach, arugula, and cilantro flower and set seed when temperatures are hot. Plant them where they are getting some shade by the time the weather gets hot or when you are planting a second crop, or see number 4 below. Shade cloth can also be used to protect plants at least temporarily. Tomatoes drop blossoms when the weather is hot so providing some shade for a time may help to get a continual harvest. In addition to shade cloth a light weight bed sheet, a large umbrella, or large pieces of cardboard placed properly may also be used. Planting next to or under taller plants when possible can also help. Remove shade protection when no longer needed.
3. Plant in the conditions preferred by the plant. If it is a shade plant, plant it in shade. If it is part shade planting where it will only get morning sun would fulfill that need. Even if it prefers full sun there may be times when some shade would help such as tomatoes (see #2)
4. Plant at the season preferred by the plant. Leafy plants such as arugula, spinach, lettuce, and cilantro prefer the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. It might be best to only plant them spring and fall and not bother to grow them in the heat of summer.
5. Liquid seaweed is said to help plants with drought tolerance. I spray it on the leaves and water with it at a concentration of 1 T. per gallon of water. Do not spray in the heat of the day. Seaweed is also said to help with disease resistance and frost tolerance plus it provides some macro and micro plant nutrients.
6. Mulch – but what kind? Mulch is what is on top of the ground and can help with weed suppression, keeping the ground cool, and to help keep the soil moist. Compost, wood chips, bark, or straw will feed your soil although other than the compost they will need to break down first. Avoid dark colored mulches, rock, and gravel which will all hold more heat.
7. If you live in a windy areas install a windbreak to prevent the winds from drying out your plants.
8. Keep your lawn mowed to no shorter than 2 ½”. See more lawn care ideas.
See also Growing Food With Water Restrictions