Last summer was a scorcher, and this one is predicted to be no different. While there are some plants that thrive in high temps, the searing heat can do a number on a garden if it’s not properly prepared. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help your garden get through the worst of it. To protect your carefully chosen and nurtured plantings, read on for five top tips that can help.
Mulch Is the Word
Mulch is an important part of any garden. Not only does it keep weeds down, but it will also keep the soil around your plants cool and help it hold on to moisture, which is much needed in the hottest summer weather. Your mulch should be 2-4 inches deep and not tightly packed around the stem, which can lead to rot or fungal issues. Keep it loose to encourage air circulation. The type of mulch is up to you and your style. You can use straw, pebbles or wood chips.
Always remove spent flowers promptly. Leaving them on the plant encourages it to set seed, which causes it to expend a tremendous amount of energy, which is not what you want in searing heat. There is a reason many plants slow their growth or go dormant altogether when temps soar.
If you are growing tender veggies such as peppers or tomatoes, you’ll want to provide shade covers during the most intense part of the day. You can make them out of cloth, screening or whatever you have available that is lightweight and will provide at least some shade. If you have seedlings or young plants, cover with clay flower pots or cardboard boxes to avoid having them baked by the hot sun.
For seedlings, give them a few days to adjust to being outdoors before placing them in full sun, and remember that just like us, plants can get sunburned too, so keep an eye on them.
Consider Drought Tolerant Plants
If you have water restrictions or areas of your garden that you just can’t get anything to thrive in, consider drought-tolerant plants like succulents. These plants tend to thrive in poor soil and need little water. As long as you can provide lots of sun and proper drainage, they’ll be happy. Succulents come in a huge range of colors, sizes, and shapes to add lots of interest to your yard. Several varieties of flowers, including lantana, yarrow, lavender, and poppies are also drought tolerant.
Don’t Leave Them Thirsty
Regular, consistent water is crucial for the survival of any garden during periods of high heat. If you are growing vegetables, this is even truer. Inconsistent water can lead to more than just wilted plants. You could wind up with cracked tomatoes or cucumbers that look like baseballs. Deep, consistent watering is key. Do so early in the day or late in the afternoon. Avoid watering at dusk or night, as water left on foliage can lead to blight or other fungal diseases.
A garden is a thing of joy to many of us. We spend time carefully choosing every plant, and then more time nurturing and enjoying them. Scorching temps don’t have to put an end to that. Just make sure your beds are properly mulched and watered, and provide shade when needed. You should also consider what you plant.
For example, broccoli will immediately bolt and go to seed in hot weather, so don’t even think about planting it now. Wait until fall, when it will do nicely. If you have water restrictions or tough areas of your yard where most things won’t grow, look into drought-tolerant plants like succulents and wildflowers. If you have any particularly fussy plants, plant them in pots or planters instead of in the ground so you can move them to shadier or cooler locations if needed.