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How to help your plants through a heat wave

Lauren Bloom of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado shares some advice for helping plants survive these days of 90+ degree temperatures.

COLORADO CITY, Colo. — Editor's note: The following is an article contributed by the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado.

The summer heat started later this year, but things are definitely heating up. 

If your plants have been thriving with so much precipitation, this week’s hot, dry weather could be a harsh change.  

Lauren Bloom of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado shares some advice for helping plants survive these days of 90+ degree temperatures:

Heat waves should remind us of two things:

  1. Even though we have beautiful landscapes in Colorado, it is tough to grow plants here! Mother nature gives us a hard time.
  2. The best way to have plants that survive our altitude, intense heat, cold winters and hot summers—is to select plants that like to live here.

We’re not in drought right now, but we still need to conserve water. If you are adding or replacing plants this year, look for low-water plants that work best in our conditions.

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Location of your plants is also important to consider. Any plants that face south or west and get a lot of sun will need more water. With containers, make sure they are in a good potting soil that retains moisture throughout the day.

But don’t worry too much. If your plants are wilting, that doesn’t mean they are dying. Resist the urge to water too much. Plants will wilt either because they need moisture or because it’s their coping mechanism to conserve moisture during the heat of day. If you look at the same plant at night that was wilted during the day, it may be back to normal. To know if the plant really needs water, check the soil with a screwdriver probe. If the soil is dry 2” into the soil, it needs water.

There are also some things you can do to keep moisture in the soil. For plants along bricks, flagstone and other hardscape, spray just along the edges of the hardscape to help them stay cool and radiate less heat. Make sure you have wood mulch or even grass clippings on the soil to retain moisture—the added benefit is that this will help control weeds.

If you plan to go away for a few days, make sure our plants don’t dry out while you’re on vacation. Drip irrigation is very useful for consistent moisture, as is setting a timer. If you don’t already have a smart irrigation system, you can buy a timer to make sure your plants get the water they need while you’re gone. Also, you can avoid many problems during these hot months by not planting cool season plants such as salad greens, kale and radishes because they don’t like hot weather.

For containers without irrigation, you can use a clean, used bottle (like a wine bottle), fill it with water to the top, invert it, and plunge it into the dirt near the rim of your container. Water will drain into the soil when it is needed as the soil becomes dry.


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