Summer weather may be a blessed relief after winter’s frigid temperatures and spring’s chilly evenings, but the truth is, summer’s more intense heat waves can sometimes be just as unbearable as winter’s cold weather – especially for plants. Between high temps, all-day sunshine leeching moisture from soil and an abundance of pests and diseases, summer can be a hard time for gardeners. But luckily, there are a few ways your plants and flowers can survive – and potentially even thrive – the hottest months in the year. Here are six summer gardening tips to get you through July and the other summer months:
1. Plant Heat-Hardy Crops
The best way to ensure your garden stays healthy despite high heat is to make sure you plant crops that can handle those temperatures. While this isn’t always possible, you can at least check that plants are hardy to your climate before committing to put them into your garden. Tropical plants are renowned for their ability to handle high temperatures and sunshine, so if you live in a hot climate, they’re a great place to start. Likewise, hot-weather fruits and veggies, including tomatoes, melons, eggplant, peppers and squash, often need temperatures in the 80s and 90s to flourish.
2. Add Some Shade
Even heat-hardy plants sometimes need a break from nonstop sun, so another way to protect your gardens and containers is to ensure they get some relief regularly. Containers and window boxes can be moved into the shade of your porch or a large tree, or even taken inside during the worst of the heat. For your garden, pick up some shade cloth at a local garden store to cover your plants for a few hours a day.
3. Water Often
Summer sunshine dries out soil quickly, which means you’ll need to water your plants more frequently than you do during the other seasons. However, keep in mind that over-watering is just as dangerous as under-watering. Water your garden often, or consider installing an irrigation system that will provide your garden with just the right amount of moisture. Your containers will likely need to be watered at least once a day since they dry out faster. Take care of all of these tasks in the morning, so that your soil has the chance to soak up moisture before the high heat evaporates it in the afternoon.
4. Mulch, Mulch, Mulch
Looking for an effective way to keep your soil moist and healthy for longer? Top it with mulch. Blanket the soil in your garden and containers with about 2 to 3 inches of mulch (or even newspaper, weed-mat or grass), and you’ll have to water your plants a bit less often.
5. Prune When Needed
Many perennials bloom during spring and early summer, before it gets too hot. That means that as the season progresses, your flowers’ blooms and growths will start to fade and die – make sure to prune these as often as you can and clear dead blooms, leaves and other debris from your garden. This will keep the plants healthy throughout the season, and could help you keep pests and diseases at bay.
6. Tackle Weeds Right Away
Similarly, do your best to tackle weeds as they crop up, rather than putting the chore off. The longer you wait, the harder they’ll be to remove and the longer you’ll have to spend on the task.
Remember that summer’s heat isn’t just dangerous for your plants – it’s unsafe for you as well. Try to garden in the mornings or evenings when temperatures are a little cooler, and be sure to protect yourself by wearing a hat and applying sunscreen before heading outdoors.