Reducing heat stress in your plants this Summer
We don’t need to tell you. It’s been HOT. Great for lounging in the garden, days out and enjoying the UK countryside. Not so great for your plants, trees, hedging, borders and pots. Even if you’ve stuck to a really strict daily watering regime, plants can continue to suffer heat stress – but there are some things you can do to help give them the best chance of protection through even the hottest days.
Last month, we wrote about some alternative watering methods you could consider. This month, we’re looking at some fundamentals to help you give your plants a fighting chance in this heat.
How much to water and when?
It’s essential to water daily at least once. But consider the time of day to minimise further stress for your plants. First thing in the morning and early evening are definitely the best times to do this. If you water in the middle of the day or in full sun, you’re risking that the water will essentially evaporate before it gets to the roots where it’s needed. Plus, any splashed water on the leaves can lead to scorching and that’s a definite no-no for the plant’s health and appearance.
Also look to give your plants a deep, deep watering session at least two or three times a week – a real soaking with an overhead sprinkler or by hand. Just make sure you wait for the cooler hours of morning or early evening.
Don't over-do it
It’s a juggling game – not enough water and your plants will wilt or suffer, but too much water can also damage them. Heat and sun exposure can cause leaf wilt as the plant releases moisture to protect itself – we perspire, they transpire. You may see the leaves wilting during the day and think MORE WATER… but WAIT. Feel the soil first to check. Over-watering can cause the roots to rot and creates a hotbed for fungal diseases.
A fungus thrives on moisture and an excess of water around the roots deprives them of oxygen – the perfect conditions for disease. If the soil is still a little moist, just wait until the sun has gone down in the evening and water again.
In extreme heat, plants can get sunburnt and may even stop flowering – they’re saving their energy for root protection and maintaining moisture.
If you have plants in pots, move them into the shade during the hottest hours or create a fabric shaded area over a trellis for a summer-long shaded area.
Protect and mulch
Remember to mulch to keep a thick layer to insulate your plant’s roots from both heat and cold. Choose straw, leaves and grass clippings or choose weed matting to keep straggling weeds from taking over, too. Our weed matting - available in rolls or pre-cut squares - helps to conserve moisture in the soil, slowly allowing the water to permeate without allowing weeds to establish.
A fighting chance
Don’t forget your water-storing granules and feeds. The clever granules in Broadleaf P4 Water Storing Granules can reduce watering frequency by up to 75%. They create tiny reservoirs of water within the soil around your new plants. Whether you're planting Cell Grown Plants all year round or bareroot plants from November to April, give them the best possible start by using Rootgrow Mycorrhizal Fungi to enhance their root systems too.
Choose tolerant plants
There are many plants that lap up the sunshine and thrive in intense heat, without shade. You can filter our trees and hedging varieties by their characteristics - low maintenance, wind-resistant, flower interest - and seek out the best options for the sunniest aspect of your garden or landscape.
Don’t forget – leave the gardening chores to the morning or early evening, apply sunscreen and wear a hat. Work in short bursts, take in plenty of fluids and listen to your body to avoid your own heat stress. And why not rustle up one of The Telegraphs 10 Most Delicious non-alcoholic cocktails to enjoy whilst you sit and enjoy your garden?