(Pomona, New York) August 4, 2022 — Taking care of your garden and house plants during the dog days of summer can be stressful. Here are some tips and tricks on plant care during a heat wave.
For Outdoor Plants:
- Water plants deeply, ideally first thing in the morning while temperatures are still low. Potted plants will probably want to be watered more than once a day during a heat wave. The next best time to water during hot weather is in the early evening. Generally speaking, established trees will need deep waterings 2-3 times a week or more during heat waves. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation work well for deep waterings as they ensure there is less water run-off.
- Mulch! If you don’t already have a thick layer of mulch around your plants, apply some as soon as possible. Organic mulch helps keep soil temperatures lower, retains moisture, keeps weed pressure down, and improves soil health.
- Move potted plants to a shaded area. Plants in black plastic pots are more susceptible to having their roots fried in those hot pots than plants in the ground. While the heat wave persists move these plants to a cool area if possible. Also, beware of potted plants close to a wall that might receive radiant and or reflective heat during the day.
- Set up a shade cloth for young tender plants. Younger plants may not be able to handle the heat as well as more established plantings. Consider placing a temporary shade cloth over them during a heat wave.
- Watch the leaves on your plants. Leaves wilt during extremely hot and sunny days as a defense mechanism. The wilting lowers the surface area exposed to the sun thus limiting transpiration and sunburn. However, if the plant does not perk up in the evening or after watering in the morning then it might be a sign of too much or too little watering.
- Install an irrigation system. The best defense against extreme weather is having healthy established plants. Caring for them year-round with the right organic fertilizers, seasonal pruning, and good watering practices are the best way to ensure your plants make it through extreme weather.
Don’t forget your indoor plants!
Depending on how well your home is insulated and air-conditioned, a heat wave can affect indoor conditions, too. If you notice temps are climbing inside, your houseplants will drink water faster.
- Consider turning on the humidifier. Just like humans, plants can dry out too when the air gets too hot. If your indoor plants are taking up water faster during the heat wave, it might be time to break out the humidifier to boost water vapor in the air.
- Limit direct sunlight. If your plants are suited for direct sunlight, they should be okay unless it is an extreme heatwave in which case you want to remove them from direct sunlight and increase your watering.
- Save re-potting for after the heat wave. If you need to transplant your plants—particularly your outdoor plants—hold off until temperatures return to normal. Between the extreme heat, lower water levels, and drier conditions, heat waves can stress your plants more than usual; re-potting can jeopardize their health.