How to Handle the Heat in Your Garden

How to Handle the Heat in Your Garden

When summer arrives in Eastern Iowa, there is no telling what the weather will be like.  One moment we have ample rain, the next it is dry. Plus, the temperatures can range from mid-70s to the high 90s and beyond.  Below are some things to keep in mind with caring for your plants during the summer.


What do you look for?

Always check the soil before watering.  If a plant is wilting, it doesn’t always mean it needs water.  The picture below is an example of an established hydrangea that is wilting.  The hydrangea was soaked thoroughly yesterday, and if you check the soil at the base of the plant, it is still damp, however it is still wilting.  So why is that?

Plants wilt because they are trying to escape the sun and heat of summer. This is especially true for large leaf plants, such as the hydrangea below.    If the soil has some moisture, please DO NOT water.

Potted Plants

It is important to check your potted plants daily for watering.  Potted plants typically have a more dense root system, since the plants' roots are in a more confined area.  This will cause them to dry out faster.

When to Water

Another great tip for happy, healthy plants is to water in the mornings or no later than 3:00 pm.  It is best to water in the morning to allow the plant to be fully hydrated during the heat of the day.  Watering in the morning also ensures that the plant is dry before the sun goes down.  This will help prevent fungus development.

What to Avoid

Besides watering in the morning, we also recommend watering at the base of the plant.  Too many times we see people water like the picture below.  We advise putting the spout at the base of the foliage.

Watering the foliage of plants with fuzzy leaves, like tomatoes, geraniums, gerbera daisies can lead to fungal issues, as well.  Watering the blooms of plants also cuts down the length of time a bloom will stay "fresh".

New Plant Care

Newly planted trees and shrubs should be given a thorough watering once a week (depending on soil type).  We recommend a slow trick of the hose  Just test the soil with your fingers, if it is dry, it is time to water.  Don’t forget about trees and shrubs planted last year, if it doesn’t rain for long periods of time, give them a thorough soaking.  DO NOT water trees and shrubs every day.  Below are some great general watering guidelines to ensure that your plants are producing deep roots, rather than shallow.

General Watering Guidelines for Clay Soil:
1 gal. Pot – trickle water for approx. 15-20 minutes
2 gal. Pot – trickle water for approx. 30-40 minutes
3 gal. Pot – trickle water for approx. 40-50 minutes
4 gal. To 7 gal. – trickle water for approx. 60 minutes
B&B – trickle water for 60-70 minutes

What pests should I worry about?

Some pests that can wreak havoc during the summer are Japanese beetles.  You can use a systemic insecticide to control Japanese Beetles.  This is especially important for roses.  It isn’t too late to apply a systemic to help control Japanese Beetles on shrubs.  Japanese Beetles can also be controlled with a contact spray if the systemic isn’t applied in time.

During extreme dry periods, mites will often cause problems in the landscape.  Roses and burning bush are often the shrubs effected by mites.  Look for webbing and small black dots on the undersides of leaves.  If you notice these signs, use a miticide or a combination plant health spray that controls mites and other insects.

As always message us or call us at the store if you have any questions on what is best for your plants!

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