Protecting Your Garden Through a Heatwave

We are quickly finding ourselves in the heat of the summer, and searing temperatures often catch us by surprise, causing plants to wilt and struggle instead of starting their summer growth spurt. Of course, always pay attention to the conditions of your soil; it is essential to be strategic about your garden care as the heatwave in the PNW approaches. Here are some simple measures to counter the heat and maintain a healthy garden. 

1. Insulate for moisture retention 

Applying a thick layer of mulch around your plants will help retain moisture, helping your waterings last longer. Opt for lighter colored mulches such as freshly cut grass clippings, and don’t be afraid to get crafty using what you have on hand, everything from straw, to leaves to carboard!   

2. Move any potted plants into shaded areas 

Potted plants are the most prone to drying during a heat wave, so protect them and use shade when possible. If you usually keep some on your windowsill, consider moving them to a shadier area during the most intense heat days. 

3. Create shade for plants you can’t move 

From setting up a tunnel or cover with shade cloth to propping an umbrella or a pop-up tent, anything that helps guard your plants against the direct sun during the most intense part of the day will go a long way! Be careful not to reduce aeriation (ventilation) and to secure your shade so it does not harm the plants by falling on them.  

4. Water in the morning 

This prepares the plant for the day to come and helps the plant retain water. Morning watering is preferable to evening watering as the plant has time to dry before the sun goes down. If you water in the afternoon, especially during summer, the heat and sun are at their peak, and the plant’s water will evaporate instead of absorbing into the soil and roots.   

5. Wait on those transplants  

If you have new plants you need to get on the ground, just wait for a cooler cloudy day to give them the best chance for success. During summer, when you transplant, try to do it early in the morning before the peak heat hours. Soak the root ball in water before placing it in its new home, and water it again as soon as you put it in the ground. 

Recently planted a tree in your yard? The first five years are critical to the development of your young tree. Follow these guidelines, from the city of Seattle, to ensure a healthy tree and to minimize future costs and hazards. 

Even if your plants seem wilted during hot days, most plants will recover from intense heat if you have kept an eye open for the signs of them becoming damaged: wilting and browning of the leaves. The best option is to protect them by watering them at the right time of day, mulching to encourage water retention, and providing shade. 

Also, remember, we are not that different from a plant. Protect yourselves and stay in the shade, drink plenty of water, and try to be indoors during peak heat hours. Stay safe & hydrated!