Plants Get Sunburned Too!

It’s that time of year – high temps, sun and wind make for a scorcher!

My plants benefited from the rain in the spring, so they grew like crazy. Now, in the heat of the summer with no rain in sight, growth is under stress from the heat. Add wind, and the high temps cause major problems with flowering plants especially, including wilt and sun burn!  Over the years I’ve learned by recommendation and experience, that watering and feeding are quite a bit different during the hottest summer months than spring and fall.

When temps exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit on sunny windy days, I water potted plants twice a day.  I soak potted plants in the morning and shower them at night. Ground plants retain moisture better and drain well, so once a day is typically enough for them.

Best times to water during summer months is morning and evening:  AM – sunrise to 9am; PM – after 6 and before sunset.  If plants are wilting during midday, don’t be afraid to water them!  Best to water them at the roots to maximize uptake, but a nice misting on the leaves helps too.  I’ve done this for years to no ill effect.

Cutting back overgrowth in potted plants (below the bottom of the pot) also helps to reduce heat stress due to evaporation, and it encourages more top blooms on flowering plants. Shade helps too.  I locate my plants so they get some shade during the day.  This is why I like a patio, especially one with an overhang or pergola. These offer plants, even a raised vegetable garden, some shade during the worst heat of the day. Every living thing needs a break from the heat.

And one more tip – careful not to overfeed.  Too much fertilizer can add to heat stress, resulting in burned leaves and excessive lanky growth without blossoms (if a flowering plant).  Don’t stop fertilizing, just fertilize according to your plants’ needs and the fertilizer you use.  Every plant is different, so know your plants’ needs.  I recommend fertilizing during the morning, but you can do it in the evening.  Potted plants need food on a regular schedule, typically once a week.

Check online with your favorite gardening society for information about your plants’ preferences. There are some great books out there too.

American Horticultural Society

Container Gardening from HGTV

New York Botanical Gardens

Southern States Summer Gardening Tips


Leave a Reply