Humans Aren’t the Only Life Form Suffering From Heat

— Written By Bill Hanlin and last updated by JoAnne Gryder
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Working out in this 90 plus degree heat is not a pleasant experience for most people. wilted-plantPlants can also suffer when we have a series of hot, dry days and, if left unattended, the plants can quickly die. Extra attention should be paid to plants during these heat waves in order to keep them healthy and productive.

As plants lose water through the leaves, the root system must take up enough water to keep the plant from wilting. In very hot weather, plant roots may not be able to replace the water loss. In most cases, the plant will recover when the weather cools in the evening, provided the roots have access to moisture.

So what are the best ways to help your plants through these periods of hot weather? First and foremost you should make sure that the root system has access to enough water during the hottest part of the day. Watering in the morning will insure that the plant has enough water as the day heats up. Watering in the morning also reduces disease problems since the plant leaves dries out more quickly as the temperature rises.

Container plants need to be watered more often than plants in the landscape because of their limited root system. I have vegetable plants in pots that will wilt if I do not water them every day. When watering container plants, make sure enough water is added so that it runs out through the bottom drainage hole.

Transplanted or newly planted plants will also need to be watered more often because of their limited root system. Mulching will help maintain water in the root zone so plants do not need to watered as much. Shading the plants during the heat of the day will also help reduce water loss. Be careful not to over do the shading on plants that like full sun.

Try to avoid light watering since this encourages a shallow roots system that is more susceptible to drought conditions. Watering too much can be detrimental to the plant since soils that remain saturated will drown plant roots. Watering deeply 1 or 2 times per week should be sufficient for most, established landscape plants to withstand heat stress. The ideal would be get the moisture down to a six to eight inch depth.