Summer is the time for green thumbs to shine. But sometimes, the sunshine can be too intense for your home garden, so I’m sharing a few tips to help your plants and flowers beat the heat this season.
Water early and low
Give your garden a healthy drink of water first thing in the morning. Watering at sunrise ensures that your plants have a chance to dry out, which is key to avoiding mildew, especially on veggies like cucumbers and squash.
A few gardeners swear by watering in the evening, but if the temperature drops overnight and your plants are wet, this is the perfect breeding ground for mildew. Water low to the ground, avoiding the foliage so that the leaves stay dry – a soaker hose is the perfect solution!
Put the lawn mower back in the shed
Black Eyed Susans
Avoid cutting your grass too short. A shorter cut allows grass to dry out faster because the soil is more exposed to the hot summer sun. It also gives weeds free reign to take over or set seed if the soil isn’t protected by long blades of grass.
Set your mower to at least 3-4″ to keep your lawn looking lush and healthy. You may want to avoid mowing down dandelions in the early days of spring. Sounds crazy because so many gardeners curse these little yellow blossoms and wage war on them all season, but these are the first “flowers” to bloom in the spring and offer vital nutrients for the emerging bees!
Protect your pots and planters
Pots and planters are the first to dry out when the temperatures soar, making them susceptible to wilt. To help them retain some moisture from the crack of dawn watering you’ve given them, add a layer of mulch. Mulch acts like a layer of insulation between the soil and the sun, helping to keep soil moist.
When possible, give pots and planters a break and move them into the shade. If your plants become so dry that they don’t seem to be soaking up water, give them a bath! Set the planter in a container of water and let it soak for 20 minutes.
Pro tip: Make sure all your pots and planters have drain holes. Heat and dryness can kill a plant, but sitting in water for too long can cause roots to rot. If your pots don’t have drain holes, it’s easy to make your own with a hammer and nail, or use a drill.
Plant heat lovers
If you have a spot in your garden that gets intense amounts of summer sun, plant accordingly. There are lots of gorgeous, heat and sun friendly plants and flowers that will tolerate and even thrive in dry, hot spells. To name just a few:
Cosmos – Super easy to grow! You can pretty much just scatter the seeds and they will take. Once the blossoms are done you can let the seeds dry out on the stem and either cut to save for next year or let the wind carry the seeds around and do next year’s gardening for you.
Zinnias – These beauties are not only very hardy and easy to grow, but they are stunning! You won’t ever regret planting zinnias. Sow directly into soil in late spring and enjoy big, colourful blossoms all summer and into early fall – they like the cool weather too! These are great cut flowers and snipping the spent flowers will encourage more blooms.
Black Eyed Susans – Like the cosmos, these pretty yellow flowers are easy to grow and will self-seed if you let the seed heads dry on the stem. They can also be cut and added to an indoor bouquet which will encourage new blooms.
Lantana – If you want a striking flower with more than one colour in a single cluster, plant Lantana! Bees and butterflies love them, but make sure to plant out of reach of pets and children as they can be toxic.
Portulaca – If you’re looking for a heat friendly ground cover, Portulaca is what you want. This stunning succulent will grow anywhere and requires very little watering as their root system is quite shallow. They will spread nicely and while they aren’t a perennial in North America, they will sometimes self-seed if you’re lucky.
Lemon Verbena – This lovely little herb has leaves that smell just like fresh cut lemons. Victorian ladies used to keep the leaves in their handkerchiefs to revive themselves on a sweltering hot day! The leaves can also be steeped to make a delicious tea. In the summer, they bloom with small, pretty white flowers.
I hope these tips help your home garden make it through the summer heat this year!