Plants That Love the Heat!

Summer has arrived! While we can usually escape inside to the bliss of air conditioning, outdoor plants are stuck in the dirt under the sweltering sun. What can we do to give them a break, notice when our plants are struggling, and help them recover from heat stress?

How hot is hot? Charlotte W. with explains that, “Any time the thermostat soars above 90°F (32°C), your garden begins to gasp for relief! During the heat, some plants can go into a mini-dormancy period to conserve energy. Leaves wilt or roll up, plants can shrivel and waste away into nothing. Both metabolism and growth slows down or stops completely. Flowers, fruit and leaves drop to conserve moisture loss and limit evaporation, and leaves can actually get sunburn or sunscald.” 

Some plants are more susceptible to heat stress than others. I’ve seen a polka dot begonia that was left in a hot car for 1 hour literally disappear with nothing left except for a small stick coming out of the dirt.

How can we protect our garden during a heat wave? In the article “6 Ways to Protect Plants During a Heat Wave” on her blog Homestead And Chill, DeannaCat has several ideas to help your garden survive those high temps. Her number one tip is not something you do right before or after the heat strikes, but something you should be doing all season long. “When you routinely water your garden throughout the growing season, provide plants with long and slow watering that will saturate deep within the soil. That is better than watering for quick bouts and more often, or only wetting the top few inches of soil.” This enables your plants to grow long roots, which gives them access to more nutrients and water. In addition, DeannaCat shares that you should also avoid wetting plant leaves and resist the urge to overwater before or during heat waves.

Getting plants to bounce back can be challenging but isn’t impossible. Give them some water and establish a regular watering schedule to avoid future wilting. Containers can be moved into different areas of your yard and you can create simple shade solutions that can be easily put up and taken down as needed. There are even plant apps that will let you know if the UV index is too high and remind you to provide shade for your plants.

Areas of your yard that experience full sun still need color and beauty despite the soaring summer temperatures. Whether you still need a few plants for your garden this year or you are looking for new ideas for next year, we’ve put together a list of our favorite plants that thrive in the heat and look great through the summer season (with a well established watering schedule and proper plant placement, of course!).




  1. How Heat Affects Plants by Charlotte W.
  2. 6 Ways to Protect Garden Plants in a Heat Wave by DeannaCat

Guest Blogger

Wendi Epps,

Social Media Manager at Johnson Nursery

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