Summer came all too soon, and the combination of heat with very little rainfall is stressful to landscapes and gardens. Plants need a period in the spring with rainfall and cooler weather to put on lots of new growth for the growing season, and they didn’t get that this year. Focus on good plants selection (plant things that are tough and can handle the heat and drought) and efficient irrigation (make the most of what water is applied instead of allowing it to evaporate) to help plants make it through the long summer.
If planting anything new, try to use larger transplants – they will have bigger root systems and can handle the stress of being planted in the heat better than small transplants. Some beautiful plants that thrive in the heat include sweet potato vine, Pride of Barbados, yellow bells, lantana, gopher plant, and various salvia varieties including Mystic Spires blue salvia – a favorite of many horticulturists and master gardeners. Vegetables to plant now include okra, pumpkin, squash, cantaloupe and southern pea.
To make irrigation water go further and reduce evaporation, use drip irrigation in beds. Drip tubing used correctly is healthier for plants and conserves water. Replenish mulch in beds to a depth of three to four inches to further prevent evaporation, keep roots cooler and reduce weeds. Drip irrigation and mulch are an incredible combo for beautiful beds with healthy plants that can survive the heat of summer. For laws that use sprinkler heads, convert to more efficient multi-stream nozzles and don’t water during the hot part of the day.
Water deeply but infrequently. Throughout the year, go as long as possible between watering sessions to help promote deep root growth. Watering too frequentlys shallow rooting, and when the heat of summer hits, shallow-rooted plants may not be able to stay hydrated no matter how much irrigation is given.
See examples of what plants can thrive in the heat! Join the Concho Valley Master Gardeners for a Spring Garden Tour on Saturday, May 21st 9am to 1pm to see several home landscapes and demo gardens to get ideas of what works well in the Concho Valley, including some beautiful turfgrass-free landscapes. It’s free to participate, but pre-registration is required. Visit https://txmg.org/conchovalley/ for more details and to register or call the Extension Office at 325-659-6522.
Also save the date – June 16th at 6pm for a seminar on Landscape Water Conservation – featuring info on drought survival, irrigation efficiency and rainwater harvesting. More details to come!
Allison Watkins is the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent for horticulture in Tom Green County. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.