Ready, Set, Grow! – July 4, 2019

Summer is now officially here, and it’s officially real darn hot outside. Summer heat is stressful on most plants, even those well adapted to this kind of climate.

Their signs of heat stress include wilting, yellowing, and lack of production (for fruits). Usually, watering will cure it; do so with appropriate frequency and depth. Vegetable gardens want water about every two to three days when it’s not raining. Any single rain event less than an inch will not get to your plants’ roots. Always water slowly and deeply; try not to wet foliage.

Lawn grass is best watered once a week. Place a rain gauge in the yard then watering, assuming you’re using a sprinkler. See how long it takes to get to an inch or more of rain equivalent. Now you know how long to water the lawn each time. Watering any plants in the morning is also a good way to avoid disease.

Watering plants in pots is simple, but will be needed more often. Just feel the soil now and then and keep it somewhat moist. If plants begin to shrivel, you’ve waited too long; do better next time. And whenever watering pots, give enough so water leaks out of the pot’s bottom holes.

Potted plants may also be moved into more shade if hydration is a challenge. Something grown in full sun in spring may now be stressed in the same place. Try to get plants where they’ll at least have a break from the most intense mid-day heat. And choose morning sun over afternoon/evening sun when possible.

Choosing the most heat-tolerant plants will help. Okra can still be planted in July, as well as cucumbers. We can plant fall tomatoes now, too; just be sure they’re heat-set varieties like Bella Rosa or Phoenix. Cauliflower can also be planted starting this month, but it will require a lot of attention and hopefully some shade setup that can be removed later.

Heat-loving ornamentals include sunflowers, zinnias and cosmos. They can be planted from seed. Any seeds will dry quickly, so they need attentive watering too.

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