Caring For Plants During A Heatwave

The heat of summer is finally here. And boy is it ever! With temperatures currently soaring into the high 20°s and even 30°s lately, now is the time to get your plants ready to handle the heat and switch into summer plant care mode.

While some sun-loving plants like succulents and cacti are quite well adapted to high temperatures, plants that are kept in pots or indoors are usually not up to dealing with extremes of a summer heatwave. Depending on the heat, this can even sometimes include those succulents and cacti (unless that is, they’ve been kept outdoors on the porch or patio for the entire summer and had a chance to get used to the sun). But your leafy tropicals are particularly susceptible to damage from heat, and if seriously damaged, might not be able to recover.

But not to worry! There’s much you can do before and during the heatwave to make sure your indoor plants survive the excessive heat. Here are 5 of the most important summer plant care tips to get you started.

1. Water Well and Water Deeply
As you’ve likely heard before, if not from us then from elsewhere, proper watering is key to indoor plant care. Though over-watering is the most typical way to kill your houseplant, heat and sun causing water to evaporate from soil can be even more of a worry. In preparation for a heatwave, be sure to give your plants a deep watering – if you water too quickly, too lightly or simply not enough, often just the very top of the soil gets wet and the rest escapes down the inner sides of your pot and out the bottom. Make sure the water is actually being absorbed by watering slowly and allowing the plant to soak up all the excess water in a bowl for 10-20 mins after watering.

While you’re in summer plant care mode, check your plant’s soil moisture level more frequently than normal, either by using a moisture meter, or with the trusty “finger test” – water when soil feels dry at 4-5cm down for your average plants. Another key indicator of fast-drying, compacted soil is when the soil pulls away from the sides of the pot. If there’s a gap between the soil and the side of the pot, it’s time to start rehydrating!

If you happen to have A/C or a fan, keep in mind that dry air can dry pots out just as quickly as the sun. Keep an eye out for thirsty plants and water well.

2. All Hail High Humidity
Plants that like high humidity (many epiphytes, tropicals and most ferns) should be frequently misted throughout these periods of heat. You can also fill a shallow dish with pebbles and a little water, and set your pot on top to create a humid tiny microclimate for your plant, that will provide the humidity required and help those plants survive summer.

3. Some Shade For Sensitive Souls
Did you know that your plants can get sunburn, too? Plants that live in just inside windows can be at particular risk of a high dose of vitamin D during the heat wave. But since you can’t put sunscreen on their leaves, it’s best to move them just a little further into your house to spare them from this direct hit of sunlight. As mentioned earlier, this even goes for succulents and cacti that haven’t been previously acclimated to direct sun, too.

4. Keep It Cool
If you’ve ever felt faint in the heat, imagine what your plants must feel like! Do your best to keep your plants out of the toastiest spots in your home while in summer plant care mode. As we mentioned, this might mean moving them away from windows or even into other cooler rooms during hot times.

Also, it may seem counterintuitive, but the best way to keep your house cool in the heat (assuming you don’t have A/C) is actually to close certain windows during the day, and open them back up at night when it cools down. If you can manage to get the house just a few degrees cooler, your plants will really thank you for it.

5. Harvest ASAP!
Removing plant material – by harvesting it – means that there’s simply less foliage or fruits for your plants to have to service or maintain. Fruit and pod-producing plants especially should be harvested quickly to save the plant’s energy as much as possible. For some, you can even finish ripening fruits that haven’t fully coloured up in the kitchen to give your plants a break. They’ll change back to their happy productive selves once the weather cools.

Extreme summer heat can be just as stressful for plants as it is for us, but by following these simple strategies you’ll save them a lot of suffering.
Of course, we’re sure you’ve got lots more of your own tips and tricks to help everyone’s plants keep their cool, so please do let us know what techniques you use by commenting your suggestions on our social media pages.