It's hot, and the plants are feeling it! Did you know that plants can get heat stressed just like we can? The optimum growing temperature for most plants is 60-85 degrees Farenheit. With these hot, windy days, especially this early in the season, it is important to protect your plants from the soaring temperatures. How do you know whether your plants are stressed from the heat? There are several signs of heat stress and important methods of treatment to save your plants.
The first way to recognize heat stress in plants is wilting. Most of us associate wilting of leaves with a plant being dry. In hot conditions, this may not always be the case. When the air temperature soars, plants begin to loose water quickly through their leaves as they sweat (transpiration). This evaporation is hastened by windy conditions. In these situations, the water uptake by the roots cannot keep up with the loss of water in the leaves. This causes the leaves to wilt even when the soil is still wet. It is important that you check whether the soil around the base of the plant is wet before you water. Overwatering is a common problem in the heat and can lead to root damage that further disables the plant's ability to tolerate the heat. Instead, shower the leaves of the plant with water to cool it off.
Other symptoms of heat stress include browning of the leaves, etiolation (leggy plants), half-opened flowers, shedding of leaves, or leaves changing into fall colors early. Newly planted annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees tend to be more susceptible as they have not yet established a large root base. Ways to help your plants deal with the heat are to shade them, spray them with water, mulch the root zone and probe the root area to check for watering needs. A tree can loose several hundred gallons of water through its leaves on a hot, windy day, but again the roots may not be able to keep up and the tree may wilt while the soil is still wet. Cool-loving vegetables, such as lettuce, cabbage, and radish, can be covered with wet newspaper to try to lower the temperature on their leaves and prevent evaporation. Stressed plants can be more susceptible to pests and disease, so be sure to keep an eye on them for those problems as well.
If you are concerned about your plant's well being, bring a little sample in to our plant experts in a sealed plastic bag. We can help you diagnose problems and offer treatment solutions.