Gardening in hot, dry climates brings some challenges, and we’re no strangers to extreme summer heat here in Illinois! Constant watering and stressed-out plants can damper your summer gardening experience—but did you know some plants thrive under heat stress? If you’re worried about your garden struggling in extreme weather, we have some insights to share that will help you cultivate a healthy garden that looks great all summer.
Gardening in Extreme Heat, the Eco-Friendly Way
Giving your plants gallons of water every day isn’t exactly great for the environment—or your utility bill! Here are some better ways to keep your garden protected from the heat and sufficiently hydrated all season long.
Water Early in the Morning
When you water your garden soil early in the morning before the sun comes up and warms up the soil, that moisture helps insulate the roots from heat stress. It also gives your plants more time to soak up that moisture because the hot sun won’t immediately evaporate it all.
Mulch is an absolute necessity when you’re gardening in a heat wave! It acts as a physical barrier, blocking the sun from heating the ground and evaporating all the moisture. Use a natural material like shredded bark; as it breaks down, it deposits nutrients into the soil.
Try an Automated Irrigation System
Irrigation systems with moisture sensors can water your plants exactly when they need it. If the soil is hydrated, the system won’t turn on, but once the soil dries out, the sprinklers will kick into gear. It’s a simple, stress-free way to keep your plants watered without worrying about if you’re doing it correctly.
Garden with Heat-Tolerant Varieties
Some plants can handle high temperatures, and some even thrive in it! Heat stress causes some plants to grow fuller and produce even more flowers. Find our list of heat-tolerant plants below.
Plants That Do Well in Extreme Heat
Many plants can handle a bit of heat stress, but too much stress can cause considerable damage. However, certain plants seem to grow better than ever when experiencing hot temperature stress. Here are some sun-loving varieties that can handle high temperatures like total champs:
- Sweet potatoes
Visit our garden centers in Bloomingdale and Carpentersville for more recommendations on heat-tolerant plants and vegetables for gardening in hot, dry climates!
If your plants’ leaves are cupping and curling, don’t worry—that doesn’t mean they’re dying. They’re just reducing the surface area of their leaves to slow down the transpiration rate and conserve their moisture levels. If your plant is still actively growing and blooming but is showing some signs of leaf curling, it’s thriving under heat stress, and the leaves will uncurl once temperatures cool down.
Summer wilting is caused by low water pressure within your plants—most plants will bounce back if you water them right away, but extended periods of wilting can damage your plant.
If your plants are dropping flower buds, getting crispy edges or patches throughout their foliage, and bleached patches on fruits and vegetables are signs that your plants are suffering from the extremely hot weather. Remove the damaged plant parts, try some of the gardening tricks listed above to keep plants safe in high temperatures, and wait until healthy growth has resumed before applying more fertilizer.
Gardening in Illinois during super hot weather can be challenging, but it’s nothing you can’t handle! Our gardening experts at Platt Hill Nursery in Bloomingdale and Carpentersville will be happy to offer some tips, plant recommendations, and products for managing extreme heat.
Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.