Garden Gnome: Plants suffer in heat, too

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If you are panicking over the state of some flowers this week, it’s time to take a deep breath.

The scorching temperatures that we usually don’t see until August are beating down a number of plants, but that doesn’t mean they won’t return or look better when the temperature cools down, said Milledge Peterson of Bedford Greenhouses of Augusta.

For example, last year at this time, Peterson said, he saw beds of snap dragons around town that looked fabulous, but this year the snaps look beaten to a pulp.

Some plants that die back during the hottest part of the year are giving up early – such as bleeding heart and astibles, Peterson said.

And there are others that just get to looking ratty in the Dog Days, such as Jacob’s Ladder, bear britches and lenten roses.

Before declaring any plant dead, Peterson advises that you poke around the plant’s crown. If there’s any firmness at all, chances are you’ll see a revival when cooler temperatures get here.

Until you do see new growth, do not fertilize and do not over-water, Peterson said. Just continue to water at the usual level.

You might have noticed flowers such as begonias, which generally are heat tolerant, are also fading because it is just too hot, Peterson said. Petunias typically do fade when temperatures soar. If you cut these plants back now, you can expect them to recover in as little as two weeks.

If the temperatures drop to 90 or below for a time, plants will also recover, Peterson said.

If you have plants in pots that are still alive, you can use watering as a cooling method. It’s amazing how resilient plants can be, Peterson said.

Here’s hoping my lenten rose makes it.


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