Beat the Heat
Summertime temperatures have started to soar, with several days topping out at 90+ degree and more such days likely on the way. While many people feel uncomfortable in such heat, plants are more tolerant and can thrive in such conditions as long as they are well cared for. Without proper attention, however, containers, window boxes, hanging baskets, flower gardens and the lawn may suffer damage. Here are some tips on how to help the garden beat the heat.
Container-based plants are often the most at jeopardy in high heat. The reason for their elevated risk is that the planters hold limited moisture and during a heat wave they can heat up and contribute to accelerated evaporation, leaving the plants super dry. Two telltale signs of a dry container include a pot that feels lighter than it should, and some separation of the soil around the rim. The way to remedy the situation is to water the pot thoroughly, wait for a minute, then water it again. This process should be repeated in the morning and again at night on extremely hot days. If schedules do not allow for such waterings, consider relocating the containers to a spot that is cooler (i.e. more shade).
Lawns are pretty resilient, but in prolonged dry conditions, a little intervention may be needed to keep it lush and flourishing. First, start by limiting the frequency of watering to a few days a week. While this may seem counterintuitive, it’s an important step to remember. In some ways, it is beneficial to stress the lawn so grass roots have to push deeper to get the water resources they need. Secondly, when watering, do so deeply, don’t simply give it a little spray with the hose, let the water really soak in. This will also help encourage deeper root growth and ultimately a more heat-resistant lawn. The other key tip is to keep the grass a little long, about 3” seems to be the right length. At that height it helps shade the soil, keeping ground temperatures low and preventing water loss.
Flowers and Garden
Water loss is also a key consideration with flowers and gardens as well. Watering techniques are similar to the recommendation for lawns, but with one difference. With flower beds and gardens a rapid application of water can lead to erosion in the garden, so it is always best to water deeply, but apply the water at a slower rate. Sam Bradford, Garden Shop Manager at Wilson Farm, recommends soaker hoses because they can be left on for a long time and will slowly water the flower bed or garden. He also recommends an additional application of mulch.
“Whether you add salt marsh hay to your garden or bark mulch to your flower beds, both will help you keep the moisture content at a good level.” Bradford said.
Following the simple tips and tricks above can help maintain happy, healthy plants all summer long. So help the plants beat the heat, and they’ll reward all their admirers for months to come.
Information for this article was contributed by Wilson Farm, 10 Pleasant St., Lexington.