How To Help Your Crops Endure Hot Weather

While most of the nation begins to see cooler weather in September, some is often faced with hot, dry winds that make it a challenge to keep a garden green, hydrated and productive.

Using shade netting in the garden

Hot weather is tougher on plants than it is on people. It’s easy to understand why, when you consider that our bodies contain about 60 percent water and most plants are 85 to 90 percent water. So when temperatures rise, plants get even thirstier and sweatier than we do.

As with people, some plants tolerate heat better than others. Knowing which plants like it hot and which would prefer air conditioning, you can help your vegetables and flowers survive — and even thrive in — hot weather.


Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn, melons and squash actually need at least a month of 80 to 90 degree weather to develop a flavorful and abundant crop. As long as they don’t run out of water, these sun worshippers are well equipped to survive the heat. On hot days they conserve energy and moisture by slowing down. While resting, their foliage may appear to be wilting from lack of water, but as evening approaches they’ll perk up again. Heat loving plants are thirsty– the average tomato plant needs more than 30 gallons of water in a season. Using a combination of mulch and drip or soaker hose will ensure these plants stay healthy and well hydrated.

In the vegetable garden, it’s the cool weather crops — lettuce, spinach, arugula, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, peas, cilantro — that suffer in hot weather. (See Cool-Weather Crops, at right.) Even with an abundant and consistent supply of water, when temperatures rise over 80 degrees, these plants tend to stop growing, go to seed, or just give up the ghost.

Cool-weather crops should be grown on either side of midsummer heat. The plants will be much healthier and they’ll taste better, too. Look for varieties that are well matched to spring or fall production. Plan to sow salad greens every couple weeks to …


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