For most of the United States, the threat of frost is very real for plants, even late into the spring. In Arizona however, plants face a different threat entirely: heat waves.
With brutally hot temperatures coming as early as May, homeowners should be prepared to care for their plants properly during those triple-digit days. Here are some tips to help.
Choose heat resistant plants.
Because Arizona is a dry, hot climate, it makes sense to take heat waves into consideration from the very beginning. Choosing drought-resistant, heat-tolerant plants that are naturally able to withstand high temperatures will make your life much easier in the summer months. That said, we understand that many desert plants (including cactus) do not appeal to many homeowners. Talk to a local nursery about other options that can survive summer heat without requiring too much water or attention.
Water regularly, all year long.
The best way to prepare your plants for extreme heat is to make sure they start out healthy. Water your plants appropriately all year long to keep them healthy, strong, and ready for harsher conditions.
Water at the right time.
Watering in the early morning (the coldest time of day) will help your grass and plants thrive in the hot months. Still, resist the urge to overwater, as too much water will not serve your plants.
Water the base of the plant.
Moisture can actually magnify the sun’s effects. That means that if your plants’ leaves get wet (especially during the hottest part of the day) they may be more subject to sunburn. Protect against this by watering at the base of the plant, rather than wetting the leaves. Obviously, research your specific plants’ needs to know the best way to water them.
A layer of mulch over the soil will help insulate the ground from the high heat. For plants that are particularly sensitive to dry soil, you may need as much as 4-6 inches of mulch for adequate protection.
Try shade cloth.
It’s important to plant your pants in areas with appropriate amounts of sunlight. Some plants require direct sunlight, while others do better with indirect or partial sun. That said, you probably only have so much space to work with in your garden, and some areas of your yard may be exposed to bright sunlight when they shouldn’t be.
In those cases, use shade cloth to protect the plants from the sun’s harsh rays. Shade cloth still allows some light to get through, so if you need total shade for a plant, you may need to try something even more protective, like an umbrella. Whatever you use, make sure it allows for proper airflow.
Arizona’s heat waves can be absolutely brutal, for people and their plants. With a little planning and preparation, however, your plants can survive heat waves and stay beautiful all year long.