Some Plant Thrive In Hot Weather!

Summer has arrived on the calendar and in our daily temperatures. This is the season professional horticulturists finally get to do a little planting in their own yards as they are usually too busy helping others garden all through spring. Over the years we have gotten lots of experience at finally planting our flowerbeds and container gardens in late June, July and even August. I have learned that you can succeed at most summer plantings as long as you stay on top of the watering. Plants, particularly new planting,s can stress very easily when we are this hot, dry and windy. Most plants love the ample and intense sunshine and can grow right through this heat as long as they do not get too dry and suffer root loss or foliage burn from getting too dry. Some plants actually thrive in the hot dry weather like zinnias, marigolds, periwinkle, penta, sweet potatoes, cannas, okra, melons and many tropicals like hibiscus, oleanders and dipladena.

If you are planting at this time of year be prepared to water in your new plantings within hours of planting. If you are planting small bedding plants without a large soil ball or much root system you may need to water daily or every other day until they get rooted into their new home as long as temperatures are in the nineties or triple digits. Plants with larger soil balls like six inch pots, one or two gallons may need to be watered every two or three days depending on exposure and soil type. Larger trees and shrubs may have enough soil and a well enough established root system to only need water once or twice a week until well established. Almost all plants need the equivalent of one inch of rain per week and at this time of year tender plants and newly planted plants need more than that to deal with the extreme evaporation, transpiration and intense, drying heat. Folks accuse me of being a broken record on the value of mulching but as much as mulching helps to protect plants in the winter, it helps even more in the summer to reduce soil surface evaporation, to keep the soil cooler and thus the plant roots happier and to reduce and suppress weed population. Mulching one to two inches of pecan hulls, pine straw, cocoa hulls, cotton seed hulls or shredded or chipped cedar, cypress, fir, oak or pine bark will often reduce watering by half or more and reduce the wild swings of drought stress on your plants.

Many of your blooming plants will produce even more flowers if you “deadhead” them regularly. Crops like geraniums and roses will keep directing energy to the old flowers to form seeds if you don’t cut them off after the pretty flowers are finished. By “deadheading” or cutting off the old flowers the plants will redirect that energy into more flowers for you to enjoy. If branching type annuals get too tall you can pinch or cut them back to force out new branches just below where you cut the plants back. This is a really effective technique on coleus, impatiens, begonias and many other plants that get too tall and leggy.

We hope you enjoy the 4th of July weekend! We are grateful to those leaders who created our country and gave us freedom to choose our occupation, our hobbies and even the crop we will grow or at least attempt to grow. Please take time to visit your local parks and botanical gardens as part of your holiday celebrations.

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