phyta kaysonas

How Do We Protect Our Plants From The Heatwave?

Summer, sea, refreshing holidays and sunny days. Of course, lately it’s been more than sunny, as the thermometer often exceeds 35°C! So, we understand that summer, apart from all its beneficial aspects, can also bring minor problems. In this text, we will focus on the problems that can be faced by those who love plants and trees, and the solutions offered during the summer months.

So, let’s get straight to the point! Prolonged exposure under the sun for too long is unbearable, and the same goes for our plants. The latter have their own unique way of coping with the heat, replacing during the night the cells destroyed in the morning. But when the temperature rises above 30°C, they have no time to do this. As a consequence, they often show signs of stress (a defense mechanism that helps them to reduce water losses). Some of these signs include twisting of leaves and wilting, but also the dropping of fruits and flowers in an attempt to meet their needs to cope with the excessive heat.

Plants need us more than ever in summer and what we can do to help them is water, water, water. Of course, you didn’t come all the way here to simply be told that you need to water more in the summer, you already know that. So, we will give some tips, on how to make a watering effective and some small, summer tasks, that will give our beloved friends a ‘’breathe’’.

Watering, as we mentioned above, is by far the most important summer care towards our plants. How we water of course depends on many factors, such as:

  • The weather conditions
  •  The type of soil
  •  The time of watering
  •  Age
  •  The type of plant

When the temperature rises, in spring and especially in summer we water from 2 to 5 times more, as is the case when it is windy, where the water needs increase due to evaporation. Similarly, if our soil is sandy (commonly coarse), it means that it does not retain moisture and therefore needs more watering than a clay soil. In terms of times, if watering is done at midday (which is not correct) it will need more water than in the evening. A young or newly transplanted tree will need more water than an older or an ”old adapted plant”. Finally, succulents, as we all know, most of them need watering once a month, while an ornamental olive tree in summer, for example, may need watering every two days in hot areas.

Mound and digging

But let’s start with watering and the trees or plants that are planted in the garden and not in a pot. Before watering them, it is a good idea to build a small mound around the tree so that water is available for a longer period of time to the roots. At the same time, it is desirable to dig up the soil around the plant to break up the surface crust of the soil and aerate the soil. This work is recommended to be done every 2 weeks or so.


Watering times

In all cases, whether we have a plant in a pot or in the garden soil directly, watering should be deep and, as is well known, in the evening or early morning. The second option (early morning) is the best, since the possibility of developing fungal diseases is minimized due to reduced humidity. Thus, evaporation will be very low and our plants will have time to absorb it. The same applies if we have automatic watering, i.e., it should be set at times when there is no strong sunshine. Always remember that potted plants and trees need more moisture than those in the ground.

Ground cover

A relatively inexpensive and practical tip to reduce water evaporation and overheating of the roots is ground cover, i.e., adding organic materials to the soil surface, which will act as an insulator between the soil and the sun. Such as straw, fallen leaves, mown grass and bark.

Plant shading

If we have plants that are particularly sensitive to sunburn, it is advisable to place a shade cloth (usually 40% shade cloth is chosen to absorb the sun) in order to limit the radiation. If our plant is small and easily moved, we can move it under a tree and take advantage of the shade. Again, if neither of these is easy, we move the pots to a place with a northerly (shade at midday) and westerly (limited light) orientation.


Zeolite and kaolin

Finally, another (less economical) solution to ‘quench the thirst’ of our plants, and in this case especially our trees, is to spray zeolite or kaolin on the leaves. These two clay-silicate minerals, which are also used in organic farming, are sprayed onto the leaves, creating a white coating on their surface. This creates a layer of insulation, like a film, against intense sunlight. If you don’t like this alternative, you can water with seaweed extract. Algae is actually a natural hormone that helps the plant to replenish damaged plant cells.

And now let’s look at some common misconceptions that we think will help our plants and trees, but end up doing them more harm.

Mistake #1

Many people mistakenly think is that if we wet the leaves, we are relieving our plants by cooling them, yet the opposite is true. The drop of water, under the hot midday sun, acts like a magnifying glass that accumulates the heat, causing the leaves to burn. It also goes without saying that when we pour water on the leaves, we encourage the growth of fungi and bacteria because of the moisture.

Mistake #2

Still, another misconception is that we see discoloration in the leaves (very light green, yellow color, etc.) and think that we should help our tree at least get the nutrients it lacks.  However, we never fertilize with temperatures above 28-30 oC, as fertilizers such as manure, ammonia, Sulphur and copper can cause major burns.

Mistake #3

Similarly, the same applies to pruning. In the midst of a heat wave, it is forbidden because it further increases the stress on our plants and trees as they try to heal the wound that has been inflicted upon them.