Help Your Plants Beat the Heat

Avocado tree leaf heatHeat takes a toll on plants, especially those kept in plant containers. And when heat is combined with sun and wind, it can cause extreme damage to container plants. After just one day in the hot sun and triple-digit temperatures, the leaves of the young avocado tree pictured here crumbled to the touch. The sun and heat literally cooked and burned the leaves.


Strong plants like this tree can recover within a few weeks, but more delicate container plants may die. So when temperatures are uncomfortably hot, this means that you need to check on your plants often. Here are some tips for keeping your plants healthy during heat waves.

Water often. Water your container plants early in the morning and in the early evening, as well. Your plants can lose a lot of water through their leaves, and because they are kept in small amounts of potting soil when in containers, potted plants will lose more water through their roots than plants planted in the ground. Moisture loss is very detrimental when it comes to fleshy fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, strawberries and cucumbers. These plants will need a steady supply of water in order to produce their fruits. Other more delicate plants need a lot of moisture and simply cannot handle drying out. See some more tips about watering plants.

Water deeply. When you water, take your time. Allow the water to slowly trickle down through the plant container and out of the drainage holes. All of your plant containers should sit in a tray into which excess water will drain. This water will likely be quickly absorbed back up into the potting soil. After a few minutes, repeat the process until water sits for more than 10 minutes in the plant container. At this point, you may want to get rid of the water in the tray because you do not want your container plants soaking in water. Dump the tray of water out into another container.

Mist the plants. You can also mist the plants several times a day, especially when it is very hot, but avoid misting if it is very humid out. When water stays on leaves, it can promote diseases, such as fungus and mold.

Provide shade. If you have the means to do so, tie up a shade screen to block some of the intense sunlight from hitting the container plants. This is often not possible to do on a balcony (and will most likely be frowned upon by the landlord). Another option is to take any plants that you can indoors. Keep them next to a bright window.

Use mulch. In plant containers, mulch will not have a big effect in insulating the plants, but read more about the benefits of mulch to see if your plant can be protected from heat with mulch.

With a little extra work, you can combat the heat and save your container plants.

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