Is It Too Hot for My Plants?

A sprinkler watering a garden on a hot summer dayHave you been complaining about the heat lately?

If your plants could talk, they’d be complaining too.

Long periods of high heat can take a heavy toll and your lawn and garden. In this blog post, we’ll look at the effects of heat stress on plants and some residential landscape maintenance tips for protecting them against hot weather.

How Do Plants Deal with Heat?

Plants don’t do well in the heat. A few varieties, like succulents, evolved to be able to retain water in their leaves, but most don’t have this luxury.

Heat stress in plants will typically manifest in wilting, which signals that the plant is losing water. When left unchecked, this condition will cause the plant to dry up and die.

But heat stress in plants can also show itself through leaf drop, particularly in trees. Many plants will shed foliage in an attempt to conserve water.

You might notice that your vegetables have a difficult time producing during periods of excessive heat. Tomatoes, peppers, melons and cucumbers will drop their blossoms when the weather gets too hot, while cool-season crops such as broccoli will bolt.

(“Bolting” refers to a condition in which a plant stops producing leaves and begins to rapidly produce seeds and flowers. Once a vegetable plant has completely bolted, it’s typically considered inedible)

Preventing heat stress in plants in your garden

Your vegetables need a regular and reliable water supply to stay productive. But watering alone may not protect your garden from heat.

Other things you can do include:

  • Adding organic mulch to your dirt around the plants – at least three inches’ worth – to prevent moisture loss and help keep the soil cool.
  • Keeping certain crops, like lettuce and other leafy greens, can slow bolting. Bolting might happen regardless if the heat gets intense enough but shading them might buy you some time.
  • And yes, water, water, water. Give the plants water regularly, and deeply.

Healthy trees and shrubs

Fledgling trees and shrubs – those planted within the last two years – are especially susceptible to drought conditions and hot weather.

Keep them healthy by:

  • Giving them two to four inches of water a week during heatwaves (periods where the heat index tops 100 degrees).
  • Giving them water in a slow trickle to allow it to soak in and hit the roots.
  • Misting shrubs multiple times each day to prevent them from drying out.

Protecting your lawn

Many types of grass – such as bluegrass and ryegrass – will go dormant naturally during droughts and intense heatwaves.

Your best bet here might just be to let this process play out. Your lawn will return to its normal green once the grass starts getting enough moisture.

However, we recognize you might not have this option (perhaps due to homeowner association rules). If so, you can keep your grass green by giving it at least an inch of water, slowly and steadily, each week.

Do this slowly, by letting water soak into the soil. If you just turn on a sprinkler for an hour, the soil won’t have a chance to absorb the water.

And try not to mow your lawn during these periods, as this puts added stress on your grass.

Are you seeing signs of heat stress in your plants? Does protecting your lawn and garden from drought conditions seem like more than you can handle?

Turn to Realty Landscaping. Our residential landscape maintenance team has spent years working to make local lawns and gardens look their best year-round. With our help, you’ll have one less thing to deal with this summer.

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