How to Help Your Plants Survive an Arizona Heatwave

Arizona is a beautiful place to live, with stunning landscapes and iconic desert scenery. But then…there’s the scorching heat. While Arizona’s residents make seasonal changes as necessary, the heat presents a particular challenge for anyone trying to keep plants alive during the state’s hottest months. 

As temperatures soar during an Arizona heatwave (or on just a typical summer day), plants can wilt and wither, or even struggle to survive. Still, with a little care and attention, you can help your plants endure even the most extreme heat conditions.

Here are some of our best tips for helping your plants survive an Arizona heatwave.

  1. Choose heat-tolerant plants. The best thing you can do to help your plants survive a heatwave happens before planting. If you select plants that are well-suited to Arizona’s climate, they will have a much better chance at thriving during hot temperatures. Native species like desert marigold, brittlebush, and fairy duster are adapted to the arid conditions and know how to withstand intense heat. Also, desert plants like succulents and cacti are famously resilient during droughts, since they store water in their stems.

    Taking time to choose the right plants will set you and your plants up for success when the hot days arrive.

  2. Water wisely. Proper watering is crucial for any plant’s survival, but it’s particularly important in the desert heat. Usually, more water, less frequently, is good for desert plants, since that is what they are used to getting in nature. Watering your plants deeply and infrequently will encourage deep root growth and prevent moisture loss through evaporation.

    Also pay attention to your watering schedule. Early morning or late evening is the best time to water, since it reduces water loss due to evaporation. If you water your plants during the hottest part of the day, it can scorch the leaves and increase the risk of fungal diseases.

  3. Mulch matters. Mulching is a simple yet effective way to conserve soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, suppress weeds, and protect roots from extreme temperatures. Apply a layer of organic mulch (such as wood chips, straw, or compost) around the base of your plants; just be sure not to pile the mulch against the stems, as it can promote rot or disease.

  4. Provide shade. At the peak of an Arizona summer, the sun’s rays can be relentless. Shading your plants can help reduce heat stress and prevent sunburn. Use shade cloth or umbrellas to create fully shaded areas. Or, get creative with your plants and their layout, using trellises, taller plant species, or strategically placed potted plants to cast shadows and create natural shade.

  5. Prune with purpose. Regular pruning of your plants can improve air circulation, reduce water loss, and encourage healthy growth by making sure the nutrients and water get to where they’ll be most useful. Trim away dead or damaged branches, as well as any excessive foliage that may be blocking airflow. Pruning also encourages the plant to use its energy for new growth, which is essential for survival during periods of stress (such as a heatwave).

  6. Fertilize sparingly. Avoid fertilizing during periods of extreme heat, as it can increase the risk of fertilizer burn and stress the plants. If you must fertilize during a heat wave, opt for slow-release fertilizers or organic alternatives that provide nutrients gradually without overloading the plants.

  7. Monitor moisture levels. Invest in a moisture meter or learn how to use your finger to gauge soil moisture, since you’ll want to keep a close eye on moisture levels during a heatwave. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly, ensuring that your plants receive enough moisture without being waterlogged. Remember, excess moisture can lead to root rot and other issues, so avoid overwatering.

  8. Invest in irrigation. A drip irrigation system will efficiently water your plants while minimizing water waste. Drip irrigation delivers water directly to the roots, reducing evaporation and runoff. It’s a cost-effective and eco-friendly solution that ensures your plants always receive the hydration they need, even during the hottest days of summer. You can even get smart systems that will allow you to schedule automated watering.

  9. Provide adequate ventilation. Proper airflow is essential for plant health, especially in hot conditions. Trim back overgrown foliage, thin out dense areas, and remove any debris that may be blocking airflow to all parts of your plants. Improved ventilation will help reduce the risk of heat stress and fungal diseases.

  10. Be prepared to shelter. Despite your best efforts, some plants may still struggle to cope with the extreme heat. Be prepared to provide temporary shelter or relocate vulnerable plants indoors during particularly intense heatwaves.

Related: When is The Best Time to Plant New Plants?

Helping your plants survive an Arizona heatwave requires a combination of planning, maintenance, and ingenuity. Using these strategies and tips, you can help your plants thrive even in the harshest of desert conditions. 

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