Keeping Plants Healthy in the Carolina Heat

Landscaping

By Evan Rivers

Living in areas like Pageland, Jefferson, and Monroe, we can grow a wide variety of plants. However, with summer temperatures reaching up to 100 degrees, our plants and grass sometimes struggle during the summer months. The intense heat and blistering sun can dehydrate our plants and soil and wreak havoc on our landscape. However, with proper intervention and a lawn care service professional’s help, you can alleviate some of the damage the sun causes to your plants. Read more to find out how. 

How Heat Damages Plants

Heat can easily damage plants, but many do not understand the science behind it. The main two ways that heat damages plants is by negatively impacting two important processes: transpiration and photosynthesis.

Impacts Transpiration

In the intense summer heat, plants must keep themselves cool. Plants remain cool by releasing water through the pores of their leaves, a process known as transpiration. When the weather is hotter, the plant releases more water than usual. As a result, the plant dries out and can no longer regulate its temperature. If the plant is not watered more than usual to compensate for this loss, it can wither and die.

Impacts Photosynthesis

Water is essential for all living things’ survival. Plants are autotrophs, meaning they make their own food for survival through a process called photosynthesis. It is essential for plants to have water because it is one of the main components of photosynthesis. Plants take in water and carbon dioxide to make food and oxygen. If plants do not have water, they cannot complete the process of photosynthesis, and they will have no food to eat. Since the blistering sun causes transpiration to happen a lot more quickly, the plant is depleted of food and could die.

Are my plants too dry?

There are many tell-tale signs that your plants are drying out and in need of more water. Among these signs are:

  • Loss of green color: may look yellow
  • Leaves are curled
  • Leaves are brown
  • Dry flowers, no new buds
  • Wilting (Sometimes wilting can be due to overwatering. Check to see if your soil is moist.)

If your plants are exhibiting one or more of these signs in the summer, they are likely to suffer from dryness due to the heat. Keep reading to find out how to promote the best plant health in the summer Carolina heat.

How to Keep Plants Healthy in the Heat

Keeping plants healthy in the summer heat can sometimes be difficult. However, dedicating time to your plants now is better than having to replace dead plants next year.

Watering Tips

With proper watering, you can often give your dry, withering plants the boost they deserve.

Watering Deeply

When watering your plants, you want to make sure to water them very deeply for two main reasons. First, if you only give your plants a shallow watering, the hot sun will likely evaporate the water before the plant can absorb any of it. Second, deep watering encourages deep root growth. If the water only reaches a couple of inches below the surface, the plant will adapt and only grow roots a couple of inches below the surface. However, if you deeply water your plant, it will learn to grow its roots further into the soil.

watering can

Watering Frequently

Although you want to increase your watering volume, you need to avoid increasing your watering frequency. Watering too frequently can lead to two issues:

  1. If you are watering deeply and frequently, you will drown your plant. The roots will not be able to get oxygen, and the plant could die.
  2. If you are watering shallowly and frequently, your plant will likely have shallow roots. Additionally, it may not be receiving enough water.

Make sure to water your plant at the correct frequency. Watering several times a week works for many plants. If you feel you may be over or underwatering your plant, test the soil first by sticking your finger several inches into the soil. Moist soil means your plant has enough water. If the soil feels dry, it’s probably time for more water.

Don’t Overwater

Overwatering plants can have just as many negative effects as underwatering. Giving your plant too much water can oversaturate the soil. When the plant is drowned, the plant is likely to die. It is important to find a balance to ensure your plant receives the right amount of water.

Irrigation

It can be difficult and stressful to figure out how much you should be watering your plants. Every plant has a different amount of water that promotes optimal growth, and it can sometimes be hard to keep up with watering schedules. However, investing in a professionally installed irrigation system can take this stress off your shoulders. Irrigation systems will provide scheduled waterings at the perfect timing for your plants, and you don’t have to think twice about it. Additionally, your lawn care service provider knows what amounts of water are best for your plants. Therefore, you can rest assured that your plants are getting the best care possible.

Best Time to Water

Amounts of water and frequency of watering are both critical factors when promoting plant health. However, what time of day you water your plants is very important, too. Your plants should be watered in the morning on those blistering hot Carolina summer days. If plants are watered when they are in direct sunlight, the water on the leaves can make the sunlight more intense. This can cause your plants to get ‘sunburned.’ In addition, water sitting on plant leaves can encourage disease growth. To promote your plants’ best health, be sure to pay attention to what times you water them.

Mulch

Using mulch as a ground cover can make a significant difference in your plants’ health in the hot summer months. Adding a 2-4 inch layer of mulch over your planted beds can help to shade the soil and keep it cooler underneath. Additionally, mulch can help to retain more moisture in the soil, leading to greater hydration in your plants. To learn more about mulch or to get a free estimate, contact us.

mulch install by Rivers Lawn and Landscape in June 2018

Shade

Although mulch provides shade to your soil, sometimes your actual plants need shade, too. Being in the direct sunlight for hours every day takes a toll on your plants, and providing them with a bit of shade may be the difference between thriving plants and dying plants. Set up an umbrella or fashion a sheet or tarp to shade your plants on hot summer days. Ideally, the fabric will be light-colored. However, if all you have on hand is a dark-colored fabric, make sure it does not touch any foliage. Dark-colored fabrics absorb heat and can damage leaves if they touch them.

Avoid Pruning Too Early

Although pruning is beneficial for future growth, it puts your plants under a great deal of stress. When a plant is pruned, it tries to make up for it by growing more rapidly. When this happens, your plant requires more nutrients and more water for survival. In a hot environment, this can lead to struggling plants. To avoid this, put off pruning until fall to avoid putting too much stress on your plant.

Be Careful With Fertilization

Fertilization’s purpose is to promote the maximum beauty and growth of your plants. You would think that would mean you should fertilize your plants and your lawn to prepare for a hot spell. However, over-fertilizing can actually contribute to plant death. To encourage plant beauty, fertilizer causes plants to grow very rapidly. When plants grow rapidly, they require more nutrients and water. Just like with pruning, this quick growth can lead to plant stress and death.

sprinklers

Choosing Plants

Since areas like Pageland, Jefferson, and Monroe are often subject to extreme temperatures, it is important to select plants that will survive well in our area. Planting flowers, trees, and shrubs that are meant for cold weather climates will almost always result in disaster for your plants. The United States is split up into ‘hardiness zones’ that indicate which plants will grow best in your area. To see which plants grow best in our area, refer to Clemson University’s Carolina Yards Plant Database.

Take Care of Yourself

Working out in the heat can be dangerous. Be sure to protect your skin and stay hydrated. We at Rivers Lawn and Landscape want you to stay healthy and safe, so if you would prefer for a professional to handle your outdoor landscaping, reach out to us.

Next Steps

Although the sun can overpower your plants in the summer, you can prevent some of its damage by taking the right steps. Follow the easy directions in this guide to alleviate some of the sun’s harsh effects in the blistering heat. If you need assistance with mulching, irrigation, or coming up with a plan to promote your lawn and landscape’s best health this summer, contact us for a free estimate.