Hot, drying winds, soaring temperatures and blazing sunshine can take a huge toll on outdoor potted plants during the summer months, so it’s up to us to keep them as cool and comfortable as possible. Read on for tips on caring for containers in summer.
Containers In Summer: How To Keep Containers Cool
Instead of dark pots that retain heat, use light-colored pots that reflect sunlight and keep planters cooler. Terracotta, concrete, or thick, glazed ceramic will keep cool potted plants more efficiently than plastic. Double potting -- putting a smaller pot inside a larger pot -- is an easy tactic to keep planters cool. Be sure both pots have drainage holes, and never let the inner pot stand in water.
Keeping Planters Cool During The Heat Of Summer
Put potted plants where they’re exposed to morning sun, but protected from intense sunlight during the afternoon. A layer of shredded bark, compost, pine needles or other organic mulch will slow evaporation and keep roots cooler. Avoid pebbles or other inorganic mulches that collect and hold heat.
Shading the roots helps to cool summer plants. Try shade cloth, mesh, scraps of window screening, or a carefully placed beach umbrella. Keep in mind that decks or patios facing south or west will be hotter during the summer than those facing north or east.
Be careful about putting containers where light is reflected from walls or fences. Similarly, containers sitting on gravel or concrete can suffer from extreme heat.
Plant Care: Preventing Hot Container Gardens
Check potted plants frequently during the summer as plants in containers dry out quickly. Some may need watering every day during hot weather, or even twice. Avoid overwatering, however, and be sure pots have good drainage holes.
Don’t be tempted to cool potted plants by misting during the heat of the day; the sun can magnify droplets and scorch the leaves. Be careful about watering during the evening and don’t let your plants go through the night with wet foliage.
Pruning on hot days stresses plants and makes them more susceptible to damage by sun, heat, and wind. Feed plants lightly during the heat of summer, as fertilizer can easily burn the roots. Always water well after fertilizing.
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A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.
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