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Preventing Heat Stress: Plant and People Considerations

Expect typical heat and humidity east of the Apalachicola River with hotter temperatures west.

Expect typical heat and humidity east of the Apalachicola River with hotter temperatures west.

As we begin to approach our North Florida hot summer months, Gary Wade with the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Cooperative Extension reminds us that, “temperatures in the high 90s and several weeks without rain can lead to serious, sometimes fatal, conditions for landscape (and garden) plants“.  Most likely, we will also experience extreme temperatures in June and July. Under these conditions, heat stress is a great concern for both plants and people in the landscape or garden. Remaining hydrated is key to preventing heat stress.

For plants, mulching is an effective means to conserve moisture in the soil. It also cools the plant root zone, and helps to control weeds. Removing weeds that are growing around desirable plants will also help reduce soil moisture losses.

Consider watering your garden or landscape early in the morning. This method takes advantage of cooler morning temperatures, which can extend soil moisture conditions thus making soil moisture available during the hottest times of the day.  Early morning watering will also discourage disease problems on plants susceptible to fungal growth such as lawns, roses, and cucurbits.

The best time to work in the garden or landscape is during the morning hours. To beat the heat, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.  Heat stress disorders develop when the body cannot shed excess heat.  Heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are illnesses that can overcome you when your body is unable to cool itself.  For more information and resources on how to “Beat the Heat”, visit the UF IFAS Solutions page.

Ref: Wade, G.  2013.  Heat, Drought Take Toll on Landscape Plants.  University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Cooperative Extension.