Extreme heat can be devastating to a garden. This is particularly true when the heat rolls in early in the summer months when your plants haven’t had the opportunity to acclimate, but extreme heat can roll in at any time during the garden season. Some heat damage is inevitable in these circumstances, but there are several steps that you can take to minimize the harsh effects of the extreme heat and intense sun. Follow these tips to assist your plants by protecting them from heat stress during the hottest days of summer.
Water Properly to Prevent Heat Stress
Intense heat can extract moisture out of the soil quickly, causing the dehydration of shallow roots. Water your plants as morning breaks to ensure that the water seeps into the roots adequately before the peak heat of the day sets in. This way, your plants will get a thorough drink to combat the intense effects of the sun. If you water your plants in the heat of the day, the water will give way to evaporation and won’t make it thoroughly into the ground. Aim to water your garden deeply three or four times per week during the hottest streaks.
Overwatering can also cause damage to your plants. Resist the urge to make up for lost time when you see plants showing signs of protective wilting. Always check the soil with your fingers to see how dry it actually is. Too much water can result in fungal diseases and damaging root rot.
Always protect your garden with mulch. The addition of mulch can help maintain a balance of moisture in the soil, protect the soil nutrients from leaching out, and regulate the temperature of the garden bed. If you are expecting extreme heat, add a little more than the traditional 2-3 inches of mulch. Use organic mulches like leaves, pine bark, pine needles, straw, and even grass clippings.
Provide Essential Shade
Allow established plants to provide essential shade to young plants via companion planting. When you plant taller plants, there is usually space below and around them. Use this space to plant shade-loving plants or more immature low growing plants in your garden. Extreme heat can cause plants to stop flowering, and they can be susceptible to burnout. You can remedy this protective instinct in plants by providing vital shade throughout the hottest portion of the day. Consider adding a beach or patio umbrella or even a lightweight sheet of fabric draped over some garden stakes to shield your plants from the direct sun and extreme temperatures.
Choose Plants that are Heat and Drought Tolerant
When extreme temperatures soar, there are several vegetable plants that can stand up to the heat, and even thrive in such conditions. Consider planting these varieties in your garden to help quell the panic of trying to defy nature by protecting every single tender plant in your garden that needs rescue from the intense heat. Some of these heat seekers are listed below.
- Sweet Potatoes
- Sweet and Hot Pepper Varieties
There are also flowers that are more drought-tolerant and thrive in hot conditions. They can also make great companion plants in your vegetable garden because many are robust flowering gems that attract beneficial pollinators throughout the reason.
- Shasta Daisies
- Ornamental Grasses
Plant Seeds a Little Deeper
If you are sowing seeds for a succession crop or reside in a location that is prone to heat year-round, you can plant seeds a bit deeper into the soil than you traditionally would. Extreme temperatures and direct sunlight can dehydrate topsoil rather quickly. Planting seeds an extra inch or two below the soil’s surface will allow seeds to germinate effectively with succumbing to dehydration in the top layers of soil.
Use Safety When Gardening in Extreme Heat
Gardening can be hard work, and just as plants succumb to intense heat, so can humans. Just as you take care of your garden, you need to take care of yourself first. Ensure that you are practicing safety when working in your garden, especially during the most extreme temperatures. Omit garden care during the peak of the midday heat. Instead, head out to the garden early and tend to your garden when the weather is milder. Slow down, and don’t try to take on too much. Take regular breaks from even the smallest of tasks and drink plenty of water. Always apply sunscreen, lip protection, and consider wearing a hat when performing garden maintenance.