Tips for Keeping Plants Happy in a Heatwave

Life is not easy for plants in the dog days of summer.

Stressed out from heat and humidity, spent after months of pumping out lush growth, flowers, or fruits, and sensing a coming change in season, they need a bit of extra TLC right now to keep them thriving till the cooler days of fall and winter.

In our nurseries, we face the same challenges as you do in your home garden. Here are a few tips from our Craftsmen who know a thing or two about keeping plants happy.

ADD MYCORRHIZAE TO SOIL

Add what?!

Mycorrhizae are fungi that establish a symbiotic relationship with the roots of most plants resulting in plants that are just plain healthier. They have better root formation as well as fewer root diseases and other soil pest problems. They also require less moisture and fertilizer. This is why we add them to our own soil mixes. When you buy a Monrovia plant, it already has this super ingredient built in. When you’re prepping soil for planting this fall remember to add myccorhizae. It comes in a powder or granular form, and is easy to just dig into the planting hole.

YES, MULCH. AGAIN.

We know it sometimes feels like Groundhog Day (the movie, that is) around here when it comes to the near miraculous benefits of mulch, but we can’t say it often enough. Mulch keeps down weeds which compete with plants for available water and nutrients, and helps keep soil moist and cool. In August, when weeds are rampant and soil dries out so quickly, just a fresh 2-in layer of mulch can make all the difference. (And, it makes the garden look nice, too.)

GET WATER TO THE RIGHT PLACE

Your plants have grown a lot this spring and summer, right? That means roots have spread laterally (remember, your plant will instinctively grow a root ball that’s about the same diameter as the plant canopy). Move soaker hoses and drip emitters to the edge of the foliar canopy and away from the trunk or crown of the plant. This will help ensure that water is actually reaching those tender, thirsty roots. Oh, and if you don’t have one, add a timer! Makes life so much simpler.

MOVE IT. LITERALLY.

When it comes to containers and hanging baskets that are showing signs of stress (drooping leaves, blossoms that fall off before opening, general malaise), the best thing you can do is to move them into the shade and check often for dryness. No one looks forward to this chore as potted plants can be heavy, but it might be better than losing them. Check often for watering as they may need a deep drink at least once or even twice a day. A good rule is to water when the top inch of the soil is dry to the touch.

STILL LOOKING WIPED OUT?

Tried all of this and your garden is still looking wiped out? Drop me a note in the comments section and maybe we can figure it out!

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