Is the heat stressing your plants out?7/13/2012

If your containers and bedding plants are looking a little tired right about now, it’s to be expected.  The recent heat wave we’ve experienced and the lack of significant rainfall, have contributed to the demise of some plants.  To help your plants survive the heat, we need to discuss watering and care. 


Potted containers most likely require watering every day during the dog days of summer.  This is because their roots are above ground and the soil around them tends to dry out completely in the heat.  A thorough watering when dry is required to keep them looking fresh.   Potted plants however can become waterlogged, so take precautions before you hit them with the water;  check 2 inches down in the soil with your fingers to see if it is wet.  If wet, hold off watering for a few hours or until the soil is dry at that level.   If you find they are waterlogged, check to see that they can drain.  It is helpful to place a pot on pot feet to aid water flow out the bottom.  If using a saucer, water should not be allowed to accumulate in the saucer.


Deadheading your annuals and perennials is critical in keeping your plants looking their best in the heat.  When a plant loses its bloom it goes to seed, creating stress to the plant.  By removing the spent bloom before it goes to seed, the plant will reserve its energy, and remain stronger to rejuvenate new blooms quicker. 


Fertilize containers – although you would not want to fertilize most plants during the heat of the summer, a potted container breaks some of the rules, as much of the fertilizer is washed out by frequent watering.  We believe it is best to fertilize every week or two to replenish the nutrients lost during normal watering.  This is best accomplished by using a liquid fertilizer that is applied during watering. 


Trees and shrubs will fair much better if you soak the ground.  If your plants need water, the foliage droops and you will also notice that the water will get absorbed into the ground very quickly. When watering trees and shrubs, you want to water slowly, so the water seeps into the ground instead of running off the surface.   You should continue watering until you notice that the water absorption slows down.  Unless your trees or shrubs have been damaged by a storm or other problem, you do not want to prune them during in the high heat.  If you must however, it is advised that you thoroughly water the plant prior to pruning. 


If you haven’t added mulch to your garden yet, now would be a great time to do it.  Just as pulling the shades helps cool a room, mulch can cool the roots of your plant significantly, while cutting down on the amount of water needed.  The recommended depth of mulch is 2 ½ to 3” deep, any more can cause fungus and other problems. 


If your pots, garden or patio need a boost, consider adding a tropical patio plant.  Choose from mandevilla, gardenia, bouganvilla or canna.  All of these plants thrive in the dry heat we have experienced, and are flush with color.  They require less watering and will provide beautiful color far  into the fall.  Our Zionsville location has a nice selection of patio tropics as well as summer annuals for you to spruce up your patio.