Don’t Let Heat Stress Get You Down

By Jesse Eastman
In the heat of summer in Colorado, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed with watering. It seems like plants are wilting just as fast as you can water them, and our afternoon thunderstorms have more bark than bite. What should you do to keep your plants looking full and blooming? Here are a few tips that should help you keep your plants happy:



What can I do to help my plants?


• Regular Watering: Water regularly. Plants need water for a bunch of chemical processes,
and erratic watering can disrupt healthy growth. One critical process is transpiration. During
transpiration, water evaporates through the leaves, creating a layer of cool air around the plant.
Without adequate water, there is nothing left to evaporate, and your plant’s air conditioning
system can fail.
• Protect From Wind: If at all possible, keep your plants out of direct wind, especially if they are
also subject to intense heat and light.
• Provide Some Shade: Even the most sun-loving plants won’t mind a little bit of shade in the
peak heat of the afternoon. Look for locations that might receive a slight reprieve from the sun’s
powerful rays between 2:00 and 3:00 pm.
• Avoid Over-Watering: Roots need air as well as water. Too much water in the soil and the roots
can rot and, just as with too little water, transpiration can be interrupted. Ensure you have well-
draining soil. This will allow plants to take up as much water as they possibly can without forcing
the plant into an uncomfortably wet situation.
• Fertilize the Right Amount – Not Too Much, Not Too Little: This may seem complicated, but
it’s really pretty simple. Fertilize your plants normally during the spring, when temperatures
are cooler and the plant is ready to grow. Once we start seeing daytime highs in the 90s, ease
up a little on the plant food. The heat causes chemical processes to slow, and this includes the
consumption of nutrients. With less nutrient consumption, you need to apply less fertilizer
or risk burning the roots. Once it cools down again in late summer, you can resume a normal
feeding schedule. Always fertilize according to the direction on the container, and if you don’t
know, ask! We are happy to help you choose the right fertilizer for your needs.
• Finally, Choose the Right Plants: Some plants tolerate full sun and intense heat. Others wither
in the slightest breeze. Proper plant selection and attention to microclimates is one of the
basic concepts behind xeriscaping. Even if your goal is not to make a low-water landscape, this
concept should be considered every time you put a plant in the ground.

Originally published on August 1st, 2012. Updated on August 5th, 2022.