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Head For Cover: Strategies to Combat Summer Heat

The sun dominates our lives during the summer months. We can’t stop it from shining but we can take steps to protect our plants from damage. Photo Source: Lukas at Pexels

Here we are in August, the time for the hottest days in our garden. For gardeners in the Southwest, this is the toughest time for us and our plants. We can’t change the inevitable heat waves coming our way but there are a few things we can do to minimize the sun’s effect on our more tender plants. Here are a few that work and one that doesn’t.

Move Your Containers

The soil in containers heats up dramatically during summer weather. Now is the time to take advantage of the mobility of those pots and tubs. The spot that was just right in April may be searing hot in July. Look for a spot where your containers will benefit from some shade. Use a furniture dolly if you have to for the really large ones. Or you can purchase wheeled platforms at your nursery.

Got plants growing in containers? Take advantage of their mobility and move them to a less exposed spot if needed during the summer months.
Mulch Exposed Soil

The biggest danger to plants in high heat is dehydration. That’s why we water them. That’s why we also need to help keep the precious water from evaporating too quickly by spreading mulch on our garden soil. It’s never too late to get out there and put down a layer of mulch. If you’re on a tight budget, check with local municipalities, which sometimes have free mulch available as part of their recycling program.

One spring I did some last-minute transplanting. To compensate for my tardiness I made sure I added a thick layer of mulch to protect the roots from the triple digit weather coming soon.
Make Plans For Fall

Gardening is a constant cycle of trial and error. That’s why I can say with confidence that somewhere in your garden there’s a plant that is just too exposed to the sun. It needs to be transplanted but now is NOT the time to do it. So protect it as best as you can and make a note to yourself to get out there when temperatures drop in September and move the poor thing to a more shaded spot.

What About Protective Sprays?

There are sprays on the market that advertise their ability to protect plants from dehydration. Plant scientists call these anti-transpirants. They sound like a wonderful idea but the reality is they have limited value in the home garden. If you’d like to learn more , click here to read about why they don’t really work as advertised.

P.S. And What About You?

I’ve been writing about how to maximize protection of your plants, but what about protecting you? The answer is to wear a hat whenever you go out. Keep one near the kitchen door so you can grab it whenever the mood hits you. The simple protection of a hat will give you more quality time in the garden, no matter what the thermometer says.

Ann McCormick, Southwest Gardening contributor

If you enjoy herbs and organic gardening, you’ll want to meet Ann McCormick, the Herb ‘n Cowgirl. A life-long gardener, she has devoted her time for the last 20 years to writing and speaking about her favorite subject. She lives in Fort Worth, TX with her husband of 35 years and an assortment of dogs. To find out more about the Herb ‘n Cowgirl visit her at

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