Tough Times for Plants - Drought and Heat
Little humidity, high temperatures, and little or no rain can be death on plants, even native plants. Plants need moist soil in order to take moisture up into the stems and leaves, plus the plants cannot get the nitrates from the dry hard soil. Transpiration of moisture from the soil through the plant accelerates in low humidity, winds, and intense sun. This causes the leaves to yellow and wilt. If the soil is moist, most plants can recover in the cool night temperatures.
Here are some tips to help keep plants hydrated and at the same time minimize your use of water.
v Water less frequently but deeply and thoroughly. Water around the leaf line of each plant - that's where the roots are. Water once to soften the soil and then again for a deeper watering. If the soil is very dry, poke holes around the outside leaf line so water can run down the holes and access deeper soil.
v Only water after 6:30 p.m. and before 9:00 a.m. This minimizes evaporation. Soaker hoses work well, but hand water allows you to observe the health of each plant regularly and see where your watering plans are good and not so good.
v Don't prune or fertilize during stressful periods. You do not want to encourage the plants produce or grow when they are struggling just to stay alive.
v Don't plant or transplant during stressful periods. Most plants take a period up to a year just to establish themselves and adapt to a new environment.
v Mulch around your plants deeper (4 inches) than in a normal summer. This cuts the amount of evaporation from the soil. Pots should be heavily mulched and move to an area where they are not in the intense sun.
v If this is the second summer you have lost your favorite plant, perhaps next time planting it in morning sun, no sun in afternoon will help. Another excellent plan is choose native plants and ornamental grasses. The trick is the find the right spot for the right plant.
v Recycle water from use the in house (i.e. fill a bucket or large pitcher when waiting for the hot water to emerge). Set up rain barrels (this helps when we have some rain).
Sometimes we just have to keep out plants alive, not aesthetically beautiful, knowing they will return to their formal beauty and we will be rewarded for out efforts.