How to Care for Your Garden in Extreme Heat

How To Care for Your Garden in Extreme Heat

Tips for Extreme Heat Gardening and Keeping Your Plants Thriving. It's important to know how to care for your garden in extreme heat and here are some easy tips to help keep your garden and plants growing, thriving, and blooming throughout the summer.

How to care for your garden in extreme heat - photos of a watering can gently watering fresh vegetable plants

How To Care for in Ground Gardens and Plants in a Heatwave

Watering garden with watering can

Step One: Water

The best time to water your garden and potted plants is early in the morning while the temperature is usually at it's lowest of the day. As an alternative, or depending on how hot the weather has been, you can water early in the evening as well. I like to wait until dusk when the sun is starting to set to do any additional watering.

Be sure to water deeply. Don't just sprinkle your plants as this can do them more harm than good, instead, water them thoroughly. A gentle stream of water for a longer period of time gives a gentle soaking and is so much better than puddling water around plants. The goal is to let the soil slowly absorb the water.

beautiful rose of sharon in full bloom - how to care for your garden in extreme heat

What Does it Mean to Water Deeply?

You may have heard this tried and true tip before, but wonder what it means to water deeply.

As a general rule of thumb, gardens require at least 1 inch of water a week.

An easy way to know how much water your garden has received is to use an inexpensive rain gauge (this one is under $4.00). Keep track in a journal of the rain received so you know whether or not you need to water your plants or check your gauge on the same day every week.

Please note that just because there may have been a lot of rain, that doesn't mean your garden has enough. If there was a sudden downpour or a lot of rain within a short period of time, the ground may not have absorbed enough water because of runoff to properly nourish your garden.

In this case, you'll want to gently dig down about 8 inches below the soil line to see if the soil is damp. If it is, you're good to go and there is no need to further water but if not, this is when you're going to want to water deeply using the 8-inch deep guideline. If doing the dig-method dig far enough away from the plant itself so that tender roots are not damaged.

Purple perennial in full bloom - how to care for your garden in extreme heat

Manual Watering Versus Automatic

You can water your garden manually with a hose and a hose spray nozzle set on a gentle stream such as the "shower" setting. As an alternative, you can use a drip irrigation system such as this one. Your choice will depend on the size of your garden and how much time you have to spend watering.

When watering manually remember that slow and steady wins the gardening race. Once you become proficient at deep watering, your garden plants will stay healthier and will thrive even in the face of extreme heat.

Hot pink hydrangea in full bloom - How to care for your garden in extreme heat

How To Prepare Your Garden for a Heatwave

It's actually quite simple to prepare for a heatwave and the best time to do that is before planting, during planting, and directly after planting.

Before and During Planting

Amend the Soil

I live in an area where there is a lot of clay. Because of this, my soil tends to be hard. Each year when planting my flowers and garden vegetables I add something to enrich the soil and something that will lighten it up as well as fertilize it. Your local garden center will be of great help when deciding what specifically is helpful for your particular climate and area.

When I was a little girl my father always added straight peat moss to the soil to lighten it up and his soil was amazing! He also used organic fertilizers and we lived near a creek with lots of underground springs so that was definitely helpful when it came to how beautifully his gardens grew.

Soil Testing

Most state universities offer soil testing through their Cooperative Extension Service and in some cases recommendations can be made regarding what needs to be added to your soil. You can find a list of the service providers here.

purple loosestrife in full bloom

After Planting


Once everything is planted and watered, MULCH!

Mulch is key to helping the soil retain moisture, keeping the soil temperatures lower, and keeping weeds at bay and as an added bonus, it improves soil health.

Apply a nice thick layer, approximately 3 to 4 inches deep, of organic mulch around plants before summer heat sets in.

How to care for your garden in extreme heat - beautiful and shabby chic potted plants outdoors and blooming

Potted Plant Extreme Heat Care

How To Care for Potted Plants in the Heat

Potted plants require a little more attention especially if any of the following is true:

  • You live in an area with high heat throughout the summer
  • The potted plants are in direct sunlight
  • You're experiencing a heatwave in your area
  • The pots you're using are clay, i.e., terracotta
  • Your plants are in smaller pots
  • You have hanging baskets

If any of the above apply to your outdoor potted plants, they are going to need some extra love and care during a period of high heat.

Hens and Chicks - how to care for your garden in extreme heat

What to Do To Keep Potted Plants Thriving in the Heat

First, if possible, move your potted plants to a shaded area. I like to tuck mine in between shrubs, hostas, and in areas that get shade while the heatwave is ongoing. If the plants start to look a bit straggly, move them back to a sunny spot but make sure to water them thoroughly first. Monitor them daily and put back in a shaded area once again if necessary.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

Watering is KEY to Healthy Potted and Hanging Plants

Water potted and hanging plants twice daily.

Once in the morning before the heat of the day, and at dusk. Your plants will appreciate the extra time to absorb the water and get some nourishment.

I usually go out first thing in the morning, sometimes even before I've had my coffee, to water.

I also go out when the sun is no longer at it's hottest and brightest to ensure my plants have water and the time to get refreshed overnight.

So there you have it, some practical and doable advice for how to care for your garden in extreme heat. Do you have any tips you'd like to share? I'd love to hear them!

How to care for your garden in extreme heat - photos of a watering can gently watering fresh vegetable plants

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I have always been told not to water in the evening. That is when diseases will thrive. The plants, including lawns need to rest in the evenings. Will have to do some googling. ?

    1. Mary Beth says:

      Hi, Betty. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I believe that to be absolutely true (no night watering) under normal conditions but during periods of extreme heat, after a long hot day, some plants will need to be watered. I've done it in years past when we've had heatwaves and my garden and potted plants have done well but I do only morning or early day waterings when the temperatures are normal. I've also asked professionals in my area because I was hesitant and they assured me that when the heat index is over 100 (or close to it) an early evening/dusk watering will be helpful to the plants since even through the night the temperatures will be fairly high and the water will dry off the leaves, etc. I also just found this article that may be helpful and provides more info regarding early evening watering: Thank you again for your thoughts, they are very much appreciated! Regards, Mary Beth

  2. Great advice I had no idea that I should be watering my hanging plants twice a day.
    Happy weekend,

    1. Mary Beth says:

      Thank you so much, Kippi! I'm glad you found the tips useful. Have a wonderful week!

  3. Carolyn @ Our Gilded Abode says:

    Thank you for these tips! Our temps are consistently in the 90s and it’s super humid. These tips will really help!

    1. Mary Beth says:

      I'm so glad you found the tips helpful, Carolyn! Hopefully, we'll cool down a bit soon.