Gardeners and their plants need extra care when it’s hot outside, according to University of Missouri horticulturist Donna Aufdenberg.
She reminds gardeners to take care of themselves first so they can tend to gardens and flower beds.
Consider gardening in the early morning and late evening to avoid high temperatures and blazing sun.
Choose lighter colored clothes. Some gardeners opt for long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect their skin. Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF of 45 or higher are also gardener’s friends, Aufdenberg said.
Work in small increments and “know when to stop,” she said. Drink water often and seek shade during breaks.
Know the signs of heat stress: dizziness, weakness, nausea, headache, muscle cramps, excessive sweating and irritability. Stop when you feel them and see a doctor if needed.
Plants also need a little extra love when it’s hot. Aufdenberg offers these tips:
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- Water rarely but abundantly. Watering a little each day can lead to runoff or root rot from overwatering. Water less frequently but soak the roots of the plants well.
- Know what “dry” looks and feels like. This varies by plant and soil. Check by looking at and touching the ground and checking the weight of the pot. A light pot probably indicates that it needs water.
- Water next to the root system. Avoid overhead or overhead watering. Use drip emitters or soaker hoses when possible. Water early in the morning or early evening to allow time for foliage to dry out and prevent disease.
- Different plants have different needs. Some may need water daily. Others may only need water every other day.
- Add mulch to save moisture in the soil, maintain soil temperature and prevent weeds.
- Shade young plants with old umbrellas, shade cloths, arbors and trellises, benches, row covers or light colored leaves.
- Avoid weeding that involves plowing. It disturbs the ground.
- Do not fertilize when dry, especially if the plants are wilting.
Learn more gardening tips by watching “The Garden Hour” on MU Extension’s Integrated Pest Management YouTube channel at youtube.com/c/MUIPM.
Sarah Haas is deputy editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-518-3617 or [email protected]