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Summer Plant Health Care Tips


Everyone knows spring is the time for planting and fall is when the harvest ends, but what about summer? As much as we may wish to spend time in that lazy hammock stretched between two full apple trees, a gardener’s work is rarely done. Summer is in fact the time of tending to the health of plants, both in protecting them from the driest season with watering and shade, in addition to avoiding common year-round problems which become more dangerous in the heat.

Whether you have a full garden of fruits and vegetables in your backyard or just a small herb garden in the window, consider these tips for helping your plants stay healthy. Now that summer is here, the time has come to care for our plants!


1) Check your plants BEFORE temperatures rise

The first thing to do of course is to know which plants will need more care when things get really hot, such as during a summer heat wave.

2) Smart watering goes deep

Keep watering simple with about two deep watering sessions every week, enough to keep the soil moist and prevent complete drying, but not so much that you drown the plants and kill them – unless of course your plants are meant for water.

Older plants and shrubs will require watering at least weekly, and give woody plants occasional heavy watering during the hottest, driest times. With confined plants and new transplants, water lightly but more often.

Remember that both indoor and outdoor plants may need this slower, deep soil watering during the summer. When rain does come through, measure the amount in your area so you’ll know if you can skip a day of watering.

3) Plant sun-sensitive plants in the shade

Similar to us, plants can be sunburned by spending too much time in the sun. This is why you should plant the right plant in the right location. Some plants love as much sunlight as possible, but for the rest, you might want to try that plant in another location.

4) Balance sun and shade

Plants need water to live just like we do, and heat causes us both to lose water – either through sweat or evaporation. They may need sunlight more than we do, but plants that spend all their time in the sun must build up a thick skin to hold in their water

5) Humidity helps your garden grow

So how can you know when your plants have enough moisture? The top layer of dirt around a plant may look dry, but try sticking your finger about 2 inches into the soil – if that still feels dry, you need to water more. Soil that is too dry will be more difficult to water.

6) Recognize heat stress in your plants

Heat causes plants to lose water as already mentioned, but can also cause other issues as well. Trees under too much stress can show their fall colors earlier, along with leaves falling before they turn. Most plants that get too much sun wilt and form sunburns, off-colored sections with a dry, scratchy feel. Greenery suffering from the heat often becomes paler, and its flowers and leaves may fall off.

As a gardener, you should learn to recognize these signs so you can do something. Start watering early and more deeply, it’s the difference between people who keep plants alive and people who can’t.

7) The right time to prune

Summer is a great time to prune shrubs and ornamental trees if you like a more formal look.  People often ask about flower buds of fruit.  Manage your plants for the best year-round health and appearance.  Worrying about flower buds will leave your plants gangly, overgrown and sparse. The loss of a few flowers and fruit is negligible compared to the upside of a healthy full resilient plant.

During prolonged drought and heat waves when your plants are stressed, hold off on pruning because it may do more harm than good.

8) Don’t re-pot or transplant when it’s hot

There are a lot of good reasons to move plants from one pot to another, but you should always wait to re-pot plants until the weather is a bit cooler. Give them a little extra time to recover before attempting a move and they will have a better chance of survival.

Transplanting trees. shrubs and perennials are always best done in late winter or early spring.  When plants are dormant and the weather is cool is the least stressful time.  The summer is obviously the worst time.

Taking an indoor plant from one home to another is a stressful process. Doing so at the wrong time can be deadly. Re-potting plants the right way often ends up damaging leaves along with removing some of the roots, all of which your plant needs to stay cool and drink water during the hottest periods of summer.

9) Don’t fertilize in heat waves

Fertilizer is almost unquestionably good for most plants, but that doesn’t mean you should use it at all times of the year. Spring and fall are the best times. Obviously, there are many types of fertilizers but pushing growth in the summer months is not a good idea.  Further, some fertilizers can actually trap soil moisture exacerbating the hot dry conditions.  So, hold off until the temperatures cool down.

10) Watch out for pests

Pests appear more frequently in the hot humid weather of summer, so this is the time for extra careful treatment. Always try to research the specific kind of pest you find yourself facing so you know how to deal with it.

In hot, humid weather some insects thrive like soft-bodied scale, aphids, lace bugs, spider mites, and webworms.

11) Water early in the day

You might be thinking that watering at any time is fine, or that you’d rather water when the air is getting cooler. Yet watering early in the morning prepares your plants for the day ahead at a time when they are most able to take in that water.

If you water during the hottest time of the day, often around noon, your plants won’t be able to absorb as much and the water will instead drain through the soil. And then if you try watering in the evening or near nighttime when your plants are going to sleep, you’ll be more likely to help the fungus grow on them than in the garden you planted.

One exception to this rule is to give a quick five-minute sprinkle to your lawn on very hot sunny days.  In the golf course industry, this is called syringing.  This is done to prevent sunburn not to water. Just think of walking on asphalt on a hot sunny day in bare feet.  If you spray the hose on the pavement, it cools it right away.

12) Mist indoor plants that need humidity

What we call “houseplants” are generally those suited to warm and humid environments, and during the more extreme heat of summer there will often be less moisture in the air than they need. Try using a spray bottle to gently mist the plants in your home during a heat wave, which can aid them in remaining healthy and strong throughout the year.

Also remember that air conditioning, while helping you and your plants stay cool, also removes humidity from the air. Clearly, this could leave plants dried up even away from the sun, and is another reason to give your indoor plants more water with regular misting.

13) Consider a company that offers plant health care plans

Not everyone has a green thumb, but plants have many great effects on our physical and mental health that everyone should have some plants around them. So if you don’t feel confident in keeping your plants alive through the summer, consider looking for a business that specializes in this kind of work.

Plant Care is complicated so look for companies that specialize in this type of sophisticated service. Essentially you would be buying a health care plan for your plants, the same as you do for yourself. And if your garden is taken care of this summer, that means you can simply relax in that hammock after all.

If you have questions about tree service or plant health care or would like an estimate, give us a call at 978-768-6999 or click here to contact us.

If you’d like to learn more about Our Top 13 Summer Tree Care Tips just click here.

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