It’s not often the UK faces extreme weather like heat waves, however, over the last few years, our summers have been getting gradually warmer. When temperatures begin to rise we slap on the sunscreen, hydrate ourselves and our pets, and do as much as we can to stay safe during this time.
But, do we ever stop and think about our beloved plants both inside and outside? When a heatwave hits there is a period of excessively hot water and high humidity, and because of this, our plants need some extra TLC.
If your plants are suffering from heat stress there are a few tell-tale signs to look out for. Some of the most evident signs include leaf rolling and cupping, wilting, dry leaf edges and sunscald.
Five ways to reduce heat stress in plants
When temperatures begin to rise during a heatwave, we know that our plants and trees will be extra thirsty and therefore need watering more frequently. However, extreme temperatures can actually impair a plants ability to take up water via its roots. Because of this reason, you need to take extra care and ensure you are watering your plants properly and at the right times.
Furthermore, it’s best to avoid watering your plants in full sun as the water droplets may evaporate before it can fully wet the soil. If your plants or trees are located in your garden and are not in pots, it’s best to water them in the morning or the evening.
This will give the water droplets plenty of time to soak down into the soil. However, if your plants are in pots they will use up all the water quickly, and for that reason, should be moved into a shaded area and watered a few times a day.
As mentioned above, during hotter periods like heat waves, potted plants should be moved into shaded areas and out of the way of the harsh midday sun. If your plant pots are too large to move, or you want to protect any garden beds or other plants in your garden, then use some shade netting where possible.
Most garden centres will sell shade netting, but if you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, re-use some old net curtains! While this may be somewhat of an eyesore for the minute, your plants will thank you for it in the long run.
During a heatwave, the most essential thing to do for your plants is to ensure they have plenty of water and stay moist. To help with this, it’s a good idea to put down a layer of bark or compost mulch. Not only will this help lock in that much-needed moisture, but it will also prevent any surface roots from burning in the sun.
Other options for mulch can include grass cuttings, shredded leaves, wood chips or straw. When applying them, make sure you spread them out evenly. If you cover one spot with too much mulch you risk suffocating plant roots.
Usually, if your plants are struggling we suggest pruning them to promote new growth, however, during a heatwave, the complete opposite should be followed. Avoid pruning your plants at all costs during a heatwave as the strong sun and high temperatures can harm any healthy leaves or fruits.
Instead, just let your plants grow freely and only cut away any parts that are decaying, infected or dead.
Finally, don’t fertilize your plants during a heatwave. Fertilisers aim to increase the growth of plants and trees, and when the weather is hot, these extra stems and leaves can cause extra stress to the roots of your plants.