Expert Advice: How To Keep Plants Alive in the Summer Heat

Expert Advice: How To Keep Plants Alive in the Summer Heat

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Caroline Biggs
Jul 26, 2017

Summer heat takes its toll on everyone, and our plants are no exception. Whether you're simply tending to a few houseplants or an entire outdoor garden, keeping your plants happy and healthy throughout the warm season is vital to both their growth and longevity.

Lucky for us, we have Rebecca Bullene, founder of Greenery NYC to call on for expertise. We asked her for advice on how to care for our plants during the summer weather extremes and she had lots to dish. Here are her foolproof tips for helping your plants beat the heat all summer long.

Tips for Caring for Indoor Plants in the Heat

1. Stay consistent with your watering

"Plants need more water in summer months," says Bullene. "So keep your plants hydrated with a weekly watering schedule. Check the soil and if it feels dry more than an inch down, it's time to water."

2. Keep plants out of the line of the A/C

"Air conditioning dehydrates the air and most tropical houseplants don't enjoy the cold air directly on their leaves." Bullene explains, "Make sure your plants aren't in the direct airflow of the A/C."

3. Keep an eye out for bugs

Indoor plants are prone to pests in the heat of summer, so Bullene suggests keeping an eye out for any indication of bug infestation. "Any webbing or cottony-like material on the leaves is a sign that your plants have mites or mealy bugs." She says, "Treat pests with neem oil and if possible, wash the entire plant off outside or try to separate any plant that is infested from other plants."

4. Dust your plants

"When dust settles on plant leaves it's harder for the plant to absorb light which it converts to food through photosynthesis." Bullene explains, "Summer brings lots of pollen and air pollutants, so give your plants a quick wipe down with a damp cloth or paper towel every couple of weeks to remove any buildup."

5. Fertilize

"Spring and summer are when plants do most of their growth." Bullene explains: "With longer days, plants absorb more sun and require more nutrients to stay healthy and put on new growth. Diluting an organic fertilizer and adding it to your regular watering schedule can promote growth and blooms in the heat of summer."

Tips for Tending to Your Outdoor Garden in the Heat

1. Devise drip irrigation

"Drip irrigation saves time and water." Bullene explains. "Setting up a drip line system on a timer—simple DIY kits from sites like DripWorks are unbelievably easy to install—will ensure your plants receive regular water throughout the summer months."

2. Mulch matters

Though oft overlooked, Bullene believes mulch is the most important factor in keeping your blooms happy all summer long. "Mulch provides a protective barrier for the soil, reducing evaporation and preventing weeds from taking hold." She explains, "A 2" thick application of mulch can greatly cut down on the amount of maintenance and water needed in your summer garden."

3. Prune regularly

If you want your plants to keep blooming all season long, Bullene says they'll likely need some trimming from time-to-time once summer heat sets in. "Pruning off old blooms and foliage helps to spur new growth and repeat blooming of flowers."

Bullene's Picks for Best Plants for Warmer Climates

Indoors

Ponytail Palm: "These Mexican natives are amazingly tolerant of heat and drought. If you've got a sunny spot inside and travel a lot in the summer, this is a great plant choice."

Aloe: "Not only are these sculptural plants amazing for décor and easy to take care of, they're the best medicine for a sun burn. Just break off a leaf and apply the sap directly to your burn and the relief is immediate."

Lipstick plant: "This hanging plant loves the heat and blooms in the summer months with lovely cascading flowers. This is an easy to care for houseplant that is also very easy to propagate through cuttings."

Outdoors

Hostas: "These plants are popular for a reason: they're easy to care for and tolerant of extreme heat and cold. Plus, they bloom with purple spire flowers in July and August and their lush foliage looks great well into fall."

Nepeta: "These pretty plants bloom from May through October and don't mind the heat in the slightest. They're drought-tolerant and perfuse purple flowers all summer long."

Rudbeckia: "These North American natives bloom every year in the height of summer. Not only are they drought-tolerant and in the Sunflower family, they're a perennial that returns year after year and will attract lots of butterflies to your summer garden!"

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