hot weather california
Photo by Xavier Coiffic on Unsplash

The old joke is that southern CA has two types of weather – nice and unusual!

by John Bagnasco

As various parts of the country struggle with searing heat, including my Fallbrook home, it’s important to be proactive as hot weather approaches.

Here are a few ideas to help the garden make it through unusually hot weather.

1.) Gardens should be watered deeply and routinely – This is a tip to preemptively protect your garden from heat waves and to develop healthy, strong root systems. If you haven’t been diligent in this practice, at least give plants a thorough soaking before the heat hits; early in the morning is best.

2.) The second line of defense against hot weather and the windy conditions that can dry surface soil is to apply a liberal layer of mulch around the plants. Even dry grass clippings are helpful. Mulch protects the soil from direct sun exposure, keeping it moist at the surface. Mulch also reduces evaporation of water from the soil which reduces the need for watering. Last week, I applied two inches of wood mulch to my polyantha rose bed. Even in 100°F plus, the roses look okay.

3.) Use shade cloth or protective row covers to offer temporary protection from the sun for garden plants. Shade is a very effective tool to keep plants cool and protect them during a heat wave. By reducing the intensity of the sunlight and heat beating down on plants, the soil stays cooler, retains moisture, and generally reduces the impact of excessive heat. Make sure that the cloth structure can withstand wind and won’t harm the plants by falling on them.

4.) Avoid applying fertilizers to your lawn or garden during a heat wave, since the roots’ ability to absorb nutrients is diminished. Wait until the weather cools down before adding fertilizers to the garden and the lawn.

5.) Often potted plants are more susceptible to hot, dry winds. The good news is that many of them can be moved temporarily. Smaller pots can be brought indoors and larger ones might be moved to more protected areas outdoors.

6.) The final way to help your garden survive a heat wave is to care for your garden all season long. Stressed plants that are not thriving are more sensitive to the heat, just as some people or those with health issues may be. Also, just like humans, healthy plants have immune systems that help them respond and rebound to various environmental stressors, including pests, disease, drought, frost, heat, toxicity, and more