Caring for your landscape plantings
during a hot and dry Central Virginia summer….
BCLS Landscape Service of Central Virginia
Here in Central Virginia, we all know that it’s challenging to care for annuals, perennials, and other flowers and plants during the hot summer months! With over 10” of rain this past May and now such oppressive heat in late July and the first weeks of August, keep your plants healthy, and lush is certainly a challenge.
While everyone loves to have a beautiful garden throughout the year, it is not easy to bring your plants through the hot weather in good condition. To do so, you need to have a plan in place, and you need to know what to watch for as you go through summer’s rapidly changing weather patterns. Hopefully, you can help make sure your landscape plantings and flowers make it through the summer in the best possible way with a little guidance.
First, watch for the signs of stress…
One of the first things to know about caring for plants in hot weather is spot signs of drought stress. If the hot weather is taking a toll on your plants, you may notice that the leaves begin to wilt as the temperatures soar. This is a sure sign that the plants are not getting the water they need to remain healthy. As time goes by and the plants lose more and more water, the leaves will continue to dry up – until they reach a point where the leaves turn brown, and the plant dies. You don’t want to let any of your plants get too far down this road; once you see signs of ‘wilting,’ you must check the soil moisture and react accordingly.
Water, Water, Water…
It probably isn’t a surprise to hear that providing your plants with plenty of water is the number one objective during the hot season. By giving them an ample supply of water, you may be able to hold off the negative effects of the heat listed above. At a minimum, you should be planning to water your plants once per day when the temperatures rise, and you might even need to go twice a day for plants that receive a lot of suns. If you care for potted
plants, it is smart to move them into a shaded location for at least part of the day when the weather is hot. Watering must be deep and thorough. Watering in the early am or early evening is the preferred time before the blazing sun hits your plants. It is also helpful after watering the plant root-zone to ‘syringe’ the plants’ foliage like natural rain.
Mulch is a plant’s best friend…
In addition to providing your plants with extra water, you can also do them a great favor by mulching liberally. Mulch can be thought of as insulation for your plants, as it will help to prevent the hot temperatures from overheating the plants and causing them to dry out. Adding just a few inches of mulch throughout your flower beds can work wonders in helping cool the plant’s root zone and in helping retaining soil moisture.
Lastly, pay attention…
Perhaps the best tip you can receive when caring for your landscape plantings or seasonal flowers during the summer is to pay attention to them. Plants can become dehydrated quickly in warm weather, so get into the habit of checking on them often. As long as you are keeping a close eye on their condition, you should be able to provide the water they need before it is too late. Gardening may be a bit of work, but it is certainly worth it when you look out and see all of those beautiful colors each morning.