How to Keep Your Plants Safe in the Heat

Water your plants in the morning to avoid evaporation. (Shutterstock)

By Michael McElroy

July 22, 2022

It’s going to be hot again this weekend and even the most heat-happy plants need extra care during heat waves.

You already know this part: It’s hot.  And this weekend in North Carolina, it’ll get even hotter. The consequences of human-caused climate change are right outside our windows from Catalonia to California, prompting all sorts of guides for keeping yourself safe. It turns out, humans are susceptible to severe heat waves, wildfires and droughts. 

So is your garden.

Some plants thrive in the heat, and some don’t, but even the most heat-happy plants need extra care during intense heat waves. 

So how do we protect our perennials, tomatoes and azaleas?

We went searching for answers for our own green loved ones, and put together this quick guide culled from several experts who know more about this than we do. 

  1. Water often and thoroughly: Water your garden and plants at least twice a week, but check the soil daily for a more consistent gauge. If the soil is getting dry about two inches down, water.  But don’t overwater. Because waterlogged soil has less oxygen, it can lead to root rot, disease and poor growth, Aaron Moore, at the NC Cooperative Extension, writes.
  1. Water at the right time: The best time to water is in the morning before the heat really kicks in. If you water in the afternoon, it will evaporate before it has a chance to soak in, and watering in the evening is fine, but it’s kind of too late to help with that day’s toll.
  1. Mulch: Mulch looks great, helps retain moisture and keeps the soil as cool as possible. (Don’t worry, I’m not in the pocket of big mulch). “Remember the root system of your plants are just as important as the top growth,” Moore writes, and a good mulching system is the best way to keep those roots happy and healthy. 


  • Michael McElroy

    Michael McElroy is Cardinal & Pine's political correspondent. He is an adjunct instructor at UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and a former editor at The New York Times.

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