With warmer weather predicted for most of the summer, it is a great time to get informed on some signs and symptoms of heat stress in your plants. Preventing your plants from overheating will ensure the blossoms stay fresh and leaves don’t wilt. In the realm of cold-weather plants you will be preventing them from bolting.
When protecting your plants from excess heat, there are a few things that can work wonders and keep your garden going in the harshest of conditions. Shade, adequate watering, and water loss prevention are some of the biggest tools in your gardening tool bag.
How the heat can affect different types of plants
When your vegetable plants begin to overheat you will notice the flowers will droop and pretty much fall off. Most of your leaves will be wilting and ready to fall off. Noticing the wilting flowers can help give you time to get your plant in a good growing condition. Failure to act as soon as you notice the symptoms could result in the plant not making it. Most vegetables will not enjoy being above 85° F and will show the signs listed above.
Succulents are conditioned and have evolved to higher temperatures. They have done this by storing excess water in the leaves, which also happens to be their downfall in freezing conditions. If you feel like your succulent is drying out moving it to a shading location and maintaining your normal watering cycle should perk it back up. Overwatering a succulent is very easy and can cause root rot.
Beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, cabbage, collards, kale, spinach, swiss chard, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and potatoes are all cool-weather crops. They enjoy being in cold weather and produce a fruit as long as the conditions are optimal. Once the temperatures begin to rise your crops may “bolt”. These plants are best sown in the early spring right after the ground is workable as some of the seeds can germinate in soil as cold as 35° F!
What is bolting?
Bolting is the plant’s natural attempt to produce seeds so it can reproduce.
What can you do
What is happening on these hot days is the water is being evaporated from the ground before the plant has the opportunity to soak it up. Being able to give your plant a little more time to use the water will go a long way. Some methods for combating high heat are listed below. Using a combination of all of them will yield the best results.
Water, Water, and Water
In extreme heat conditions you will have to water your plants everyday or they will dry out. Some vegetables in containers may even require twice a day, as they dry out easier. Watering during these conditions, spare not a single drop. They will be thirsty and the water will dry out before the day is over. For people in a drought condition that have water use restrictions in place, first I recommend having a rain barrel in order to collect as much water as possible to give you a buffer from using city water.
Get a Tree!
Temperatures in the shade can be up to 25 degrees F cooler, and could mean the difference between a great harvest and an okay one. Moving your plants into a cooler section of the yard is a surefire way to help prevent overheating. A natural and free way to do this is to place them under a tree and use the natural shade provided. The tree works great for a container gardener but what about an inground and immovable garden? Shade cloth will be a good option for you.
A commercially available resource to you is shade cloth. Providing the same service of a tree without having to 10 years for the shade to show up. The best part about using shade cloth is that you can build it in any shape or height you would like. The only limit is how much room you have to place it down. Most shade tents are built using half-circle piping as the frame with the cloth attached to it.
Beat the Heat
High temperatures can ruin a growing season, as the gardener being prepared for them is part of the hobby. If you want to grow plants it goes further than just planting them in the ground. Caring for the plants and nurturing them to give you the best harvest possible should be your goal. In caring for the plants that we decide to grow we are putting our hopes and intentions out into the world which can bring about some crazy positive change.
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Keep mother nature alive and prospering, your own livelihood depends on it.
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