Keeping your green babies thriving during heat waves and times of drought can be stressful. We're here to help you save time, energy and help your precious plants thriving!
Here are 4 tips for keeping your plants happy in hot weather:
1. Water deeply
As soon as you wake up, with a cup of coffee or tea in hand, get to hydrating! Early morning is the ideal time to water deeply as it allows time to penetrate the soil deeply to keep it cool throughout the day while giving the plants time to dry off before nighttime temps drop again. Wet leaves at night encourage fungal disease growth so its best to leave them dry before heading off to bed. The goal is to water deeply, for longer amounts of time-not just a sprinkle, but instead, a nice, long drenching.
Why is drenching so important? Two reasons, first when you water your plants more deeply, it gets past the top soil and hydrates where it is most accessible to the root system. Second, it keeps the overall temperature of the soil cooler for longer as the sun bakes the top layer of soil and dries it out but takes much longer to affect the soil beneath. We recommend you water your garden and most houseplants (with the exception of cacti and succulents) a few times a week during the long, hot days of summer.
Adding a few inches of mulch on top of the soil not only keeps the weeds away, it also feeds your soil while it breaks down plus it keeps your plants hydrated for longer. For outdoor plants and your edible garden we recommend using any of these natural materials: straw (not hay as it contains seeds), dried leaves, bark chips, grass clippings, and compost. While small, decorative rocks, sand and carpet or tree moss are wonderful ways to top off and help retain moisture for your indoor garden and houseplants.
Another method of mulching is to add other smaller plants or edibles like our Edible Flower Mix or Wild Garden Lettuce Mix around your taller plants to create ‘living mulch’. You can plant Sedum and smaller succulents that spread well around your houseplants and ornamentals and actually, for your edible garden too! However, for your edible garden, we recommend an even better method that leads me to the next tip...
When you place smaller plants like lettuce, radish, basil, strawberries or spinach, under larger plants like tomatoes or corn, you not only create a more aesthetic garden, you’re also boosting bio diversity, increasing food production while helping smaller veggies stay cooler during the heat of the day. This method of understory planting helps taller veggies like tomatoes and corn to soak up all the beneficial heat and direct sunlight they need to thrive while keeping soil hydrated and cooler. When you provide a living mulch you cover soil with other plant matter which in turn controls unwanted weeds and insects, all while extending the life of plants like lettuce and spinach that tend to bolt (“bolting” is when a plant goes to seed while becoming bitter and unappealing to birds and insects that might otherwise feed on the leaves while the plant is trying to reproduce).
Another trick is using shade cloth outside in your garden and lowering the shade inside for your houseplants.
Just last week, for example, we had a few days that hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) while the rest of the month is usually around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit (24-29 Celsius). This type of heat wave isn’t too concerning for the houseplants but the garden, a few hot days can cause your crops like lettuce and spinach to bolt.
What happens when your crops bolt? It means they quickly go to flower and then to seed and generally speaking, become less delicious. One year we had over 100 heads of lettuce bolt within a week after a few surprising days of extreme heat and needed to be harvested since lettuce leaves quickly become bitter as they go to seed. Everyone in the neighborhood had salad for dinner!
Throwing a quick shade cloth tent up during those days helps keep your crops cooler and can prolong your harvest.
Happy growing and stay cool friends!
Karina and Team SE