Walker: Spraying plants can help de-stress them in hot weather

U of I Master GardenerJuly 4, 2013 

Happy Fourth of July!

As I'm writing this, the temperature outside is 100 degrees and climbing. By the time you read this, I hope it's a little cooler.

Plants cool themselves by transpiration - similar to sweating in animals. Water taken up by the roots makes its way through the plant and to the leaves to cool the plant through evaporation. In this heat, all plants could use an extra watering.

A few of my plants are showing signs of stress, particularly potted plants. I've been watering my pots two or three times a day, including spraying the leaves with cool water. Shrubs and trees planted this spring will benefit as well from a cool "rain shower" on their leaves during the hottest part of the day.

Since my hose sits partially in the sun, I run the water until I'm sure there's no more boiling hot water in the hose before spraying the plants. That hot water could kill an already stressed plant.

Fertilizing plants in this heat can also stress the plant. Save the fertilizer for a cool morning when the worst of the heat wave is over.

Last week, the Idaho Native Plant Society had their annual meeting right here in Boise. On Friday night, there was a reception at the Idaho Botanical Gardens with guided tours of the Lewis and Clark Garden. The tours were led by Ann DeBolt and Roger Rosentreter.

The next evening, Ann and Roger were each given a Lifetime Achievement Award. Besides leading garden tours, Ann and Roger have both spent their careers contributing to the knowledge and understanding of native plants. And they've both been featured on the PBS show "Outdoor Idaho."

On Saturday and Sunday, botanists led tours of Succor Creek and Leslie Gulch, Reynolds Creek and the Owyhee Mountains and, the most popular tour, Mores Mountain and Bogus Basin. The wildflowers in all three areas were at their peak and will still be spectacular for a few more weeks.

If you have particular questions about gardening you'd like to see addressed in this column, send them to highprairielandscapedesign@yahoo.com.

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