AUSTIN (KXAN) – It is hot this summer. Like shoes melting to the sidewalk, jump in Barton Springs, run from the sun like it is hunting you hot out. If you’re feeling the heat, so are your plants. Protecting them this summer is going to take some work.

Meteorologist Kristen Currie sat down with Travis County’s horticulturist with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service, Daphne Richards, to get some hot tips for saving your plants from the heat.

Check out the transcript below or watch the video above to learn more.

KRISTEN CURRIE, KXAN NEWS – “Daphne Richards, the county horticulturist joins me now with hopefully some tips and tricks as to what we can do to keep those plants alive. Daphne, what do we need to be thinking about heading into the summertime months?”

DAPHNE RICHARDS, HORTICULTURIST – “You know, it’s been a while since we’ve had these strict water restrictions in place. So either you may have forgotten how you handled it last time, or you may be a new homeowner. And so panic is not an unnatural feeling. So that’s okay. But everything can make it through potentially with just a little bit of extra help.

For lawns, we can let them go a little bit more dormant in the summer, they can go to sleep a little bit like they do in the winter, when times are stressful. And they may look like they’re dead. But I guarantee you almost every lawn that anyone would have planted here is going to be able to survive with once-a-week watering.

So you know, just want to keep things alive and kind of hunker down. There’s many ways that we can do
that.”

CURRIE– “That’s good to know. So the lawns [are] pretty sturdy, are there any vulnerable plants that we need to give a little extra tender love and care to?

RICHARDS – “You know, our vegetables, we’ve got our summer vegetables, which don’t mind our heat at all. But what can be really intense for them this time of year, especially if we’re not able to water them as much… is the intense sunlight.

So one way you can really mitigate drought effects on your plants is to mitigate heat and sun stress. So the leaves will overheat with too much sun, even if there is plenty of water in the soil. You can start to see those leaves burn and maybe they will look brown around the edges. And that’s just heat stress.

Use sun shade. Build some sort of structure that either shades them all day and shades only a percentage of the sun. 25%, 30% or so is good. You can put something on one side of them that inhibits the sun in the afternoon.”

CURRIE – “That’s good to know that heat stress and that sunshine stress is a big deal. What about watering? You mentioned the fact that we do have some water restrictions in parts of our area. Are there any signs to look for when it comes to our plants needing more water or being overwatered?

RICHARDS – “Yes, so, unfortunately, overwatering and underwatering both have similar symptoms, the plant will wilt. But this time of year, you can bet that unless you’re really watering like a crazy person, if you see signs of stress, it’s probably going to be lack of water. And one way you can mitigate that is to water in the morning.

We still need to be very careful about getting water onto the leaves of the plants. We don’t want to do that. Watering very close to the ground and having mulch on the ground to conserve the water from evaporating from the surface of the soil.

Also, you want to water deeply when you water. So you might water your entire landscape if you’re watering by hand or all of your flower beds. Go through and water the entire landscape one time and then come back and do it a second time to allow that water to penetrate or percolate down into the soil. Then come back and you do it again to get it to go just a little bit more deeply into the soil.”

CURRIE – “Sprinklers? Drip irrigation? Handheld with the hose? Is there any benefit of one over the other when it comes to really getting into those deep roots?

RICHARDS – The only benefits those different watering ways is to put the water where the plant needs it. So if we’re talking about a sprinkler system, your turf grass has roots pretty much like a carpet underneath the carpet. You want to water the entire space.

In a landscape bed, something like a drip irrigation hose or drip hose, a soaker hose or little bubblers that put the water right close to the ground and near the roots. That’s the most efficient way to water those plants.

On trees, make sure you’re watering at the drip line or below. That’s where the roots are that can take up water. Closest to the tree, those roots are not as efficient as taking up water or may not take up water at all.”

CURRIE – “I was thinking about our natural, local vegetation. They’re used to this kind of heat and drought Correct?”

RICHARDS – “Yes, so native plants are going to handle this a little bit better. But even our native plants if you think about our historical rainfall, we normally have rain in May and we didn’t this May.

So even native plants may die back a bit, they may show signs of stress, parts of them may die. You could prune those out or wait and let it sit until the summer has passed.

Another really bad symptom that I’m noticing on plants is because we’re so windy and dry right now and even our natives are not accustomed to that. That also really dries out our leaves which sucks water out of the plants, which makes them heat stressed and burns the tissues.

Just kind of let everything lie low. Work on keeping it alive, not making it thrive.”