Protecting Plants from Summer Heat

June 6, 2011

It’s 90 degrees and the NWS issued an excessive heat warning today: summer’s officially here! Our faculty, staff and students are hard at work both on campus and at home. Display & Trial Garden interns Morgan and David have been blogging almost daily about their experiences in the garden behind Alderman Hall, and the students in the Cornercopia Student Organic Farm made big strides by planting 300 tomatoes last week.

According to Julie Weisenhorn, the state Master Gardener program director, sudden hot weather this week may cause heat stress for plants this early in the season. Here are a few tips she suggests to keep your plants safe:

1. Water early. Weisenhorn advises to water all plants, including turf, in the morning. This allows the plant to absorb the water before the heat of the day and minimizes evaporation. “It is especially important to water newly planted seedlings and young plants as they may already be stressed from being transplanted,” she says.

2. Move some mulch. “Mulch holds moisture in the soil and keeps plant roots cool,” Weisenhorn says. Mulch trees and shrubs with 4-6 inches of mulch; mulch perennials with 2-3 inches. In addition, make sure to pull mulch back a few inches from the main stem or trunk of the plant.

3. Watch for recovery. Some plants may wilt during the heat of the day but will recover as the day cools. If the plants don’t recover, they may need water or may be affected by other issues, such as severe water stress or pests. Go to the Ask a Master Gardener page for additional help discerning the issue.

Need inspiration? Check out this beautiful hosta rainbow our student services specialist, Evonne, just put in her backyard.

What are you excited to plant this summer?