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 in Ground Gardens and Plants in a Heatwave
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!