6 Ways To Take Care of Plants in Hot, Dry Weather

by Anthonyfamilyinfo@gmail.com

Knowing how to take care of plants in extreme heat and drought is critical in warm climates. Where I garden in Texas, it is often said that we are in perpetual drought with intermittent floods. That is not far from the truth. We need to know how to care for plants in extreme heat and drought. Watering is the top concern, but there are other plant care practices. Here are 6 ways to keep your plants alive in extreme heat and drought.

1. Water Deeply And Well

Water trees and turfgrass deeply and infrequently in summer heat and drought. Roots seek water and will grow deeper into the soil. The result is stronger and more resilient plants.

The goal is to get soil moist about 4 to 6 inches deep. A cycle and soak rotation is the most efficient. Run automatic irrigation systems once and then immediately run it again. This technique is particularly helpful during watering restrictions.

How often should you water yourlawn? Lawns can survive during drought on once-a-week watering. Turf may not be lush and green but it will survive. Look for signs of wilt and a dull green color to know when grass needs water. Soil type and grass species also affect watering frequency. Watering 3 to 4 times a week results in wasteful runoff, grows shallow rooted turf, may promote disease and can literally drown plants.

Also, observe your lawn for dry spots. These “hot spots” are due usually to improper coverage or full sun exposure. Check soil moisture with your finger and if it is dry, use a hose end sprinkler to water only the dry spot, rather than the entire yard. Also, check sprinkler heads to ensure they are operating and covering properly.

Watering Trees During Drought

Extended heat and drought stresses mature trees. If leaves are wilted, browning and falling,
then water at the dripline with either a hose end sprinkler or bubbler. Move the water periodically around the dripline to soak the soil. This could take an hour or more, depending on the tree size. In extreme conditions, do this every 7 to 10 days for mature trees and more often for newly planted trees.

When Is The Best Time To Water Landscapes?

The best time to water lawns, shrubs and flower beds is very early in the morning. If possible,
set automatic irrigation systems to run between 4am to 9am. Drip irrigation is the most efficient way to water flowers beds with shrubs, perennials and annuals. For hose end watering, use a timer at the hose bib. The most efficient sprinkler for hose end watering is the impulse type, rather than oscillating.

How To Water Container Plants During A Heat Wave

Potted plants may require daily watering, depending on the size of the container and the plant.
Mulch the surface of the soil in containers. This helps to slow down evaporation and keep plant
roots cooler.

Wilted Plants

Some wilt is normal in plants during hot weather, particularly in late afternoon. Observe those plants and if they perk up before nightfall, they probably have enough water. If plants are wilted first thing in the morning, check soil moisture and water if it is dry.

2. Use Plenty Of Mulch

Use mulch to help plants survive in extreme heat. Mulch is one of the least expensive but most effective materials to protect plants from summer heat. Why should you use mulch? It helps retain soil moisture and slows down evaporation. Mulch insulates the soil, lowering the temperature to keep plant roots cooler and helps reduce weeds.

How to mulch your garden? Cover bare ground with 3 to 4 inches or more of mulch. Natural, shredded hardwood is an environmentally friendly product. In high heat and moisture, mulch can decompose quickly. Check periodically to ensure there is no bare soil.

3. Wait To Prune

Should plants be pruned in a heat wave? During times of extreme heat and drought avoid pruning plants if at all possible. Other than deadheading flowers, wait to prune until temperatures are cooler. Pruning triggers plants to grow and that would be added stress on plants that are already struggling in extreme heat. Also, browned and dead foliage could be left in place to actually shade healthy foliage.

4. Avoid Fertilizing During A Heat Wave

Fertilizing plants in hot weather should be done with caution. Fertilizer, particularly
if over applied in hot weather can damage plants. Annuals if growing vigorously may be fertilized, being careful to not over apply. If you do decide to fertilize, consider using a diluted liquid at a quarter to half strength. Traditionally, lawns in Central Texas can be fertilized around Labor Day. Check your area for recommended times.

5. Wait To Plant

Planting during a heatwave is more often not a good idea. Transplanting stresses plants. If possible, other than vegetables, avoid planting in periods of high heat. Once cooler weather arrives, plant away. In Texas and other warm climates, fall is the best time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials.

6. Protect Plants From The Sun

Providing shade for plants is another way to protect plants from the hot sun. If possible, move containers and hanging baskets to more shaded areas. Where possible, cover plants with shade cloth, a sheet or lightweight fabric. Another option is to use a patio umbrella which may be convenient for container plants.

Keeping plants alive in blistering heat and extended drought is a challenge. Use these methods to care for your plants in hot dry weather.

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