Protect your Plants from the Heat

This extremely hot weather has everyone looking for ways to cool off and beat the heat. Don’t forget that your plants can get hot too! Just like humans, plants undergo certain mechanisms to keep cool. Most notably they exhibit signs of heat stress that include wilting, leaf cupping, and leaf rolling. These are protective mechanisms that allow them to help conserve moisture.
Also, don’t be surprised if you notice that your veggie flowers have dried up and dropped. Under extreme heat, the flowers will abort to conserve energy. Once the weather cools off, they will resume flowering and fruiting.
There are some ways you can help keep your plants cool and stress free:
Keep on top of your watering. Water early in the morning and don’t panic if you see some plants wilting in the afternoon, chances are it’s simply from heat stress and not from being dry.
– Skip the fertilizer. Most plants only grow between an optimum temperature range and don’t need an excessive amount of feed when it is hot. Once the weather cools back down be sure to give them a good dose of feed as you probably leached a lot of nutrients from the soil with all your extra watering.
Don’t use pesticides. When plants are under stress, they are more susceptible to damage from chemicals.
Move them to shade. If you have small containers try moving them to a shadier area to protect them from the hot afternoon sun. Otherwise, you can put up an umbrella for your plants during the extreme heat of the day. Just be sure they get some direct sun during the day. Also, keep note that putting full sun plants in the shade might reduce the amount of water they need and might cause them to stretch a little bit.
Add mulch. If they are in a landscape bed, add mulch around your plants to help conserve moisture and keep the roots cooler.
Keep up weeding. Weeds compete for the moisture and nutrients that your plants so desperately need.
Just remember when doing any activities outside this week to take it easy and drink lots of water. Listen to your body and don’t overdo it. No plant is worth a trip to the hospital.

Pruning Tips and Tricks

Late winter is a great time to prune your trees! While it may seem like a chilly time of year to prune, it is often better for your trees. The harsh cold is behind us and the pests that can plague trees have not yet started to wake up.

While it is best to prune most species in late February to early April, some species such as maples are best pruned after they leaf out in the spring. It won’t harm maples to prune them in late winter, but they exude a lot of sap out of the cut wound.

The main reasons to prune include:
– removing dead or broken branches
– removing branches that are crossing or rubbing
– to shape the tree

The only tools you really need to prune are a hand saw, a lopper, and a pruner, depending on the size of the branch you wish to remove. When making a pruning cut, it is important to make sure that you don’t cut off the branch “collar”, which is the raised, bumpy area near the base of the branch. This collar is how the tree begins to heal the wound by growing over it. If pruning occurs correctly, you do not need to “paint” the wound and in fact, this can hamper the natural healing of the tree.

When pruning bigger branches, a 3-step approach is best.
– The first cut should be an undercut about a quarter of the way through the branch about a foot from the base of the branch. – This cut prevents the weight of the branch from tearing the bark when the branch is cut off.
– The second cut should be an overcut to remove the bulk of the branch about a foot from the base of the branch.
– The third cut should be right next to the branch collar to remove the final stub of the branch.

Happy Pruning!