Protecting Plants & People from Heat Stress
As landscaping experts, we are accustomed to spending our days outdoors. We keep an eye on local forecasts, take preventative measures to protect plants in extreme temperatures, and we can quickly identify and address the signs of heat stress in plants when the Texas sun has been especially harsh.
It’s equally important to protect people from extreme temperatures. Whether you’ll be outside for a few hours or spending extended time outdoors daily, you can protect yourself with a few simple strategies. Plants and humans aren’t all that different when it comes to protection from extreme temperatures.
Hydrate. Before the heat arrives, ensure plants are well watered and focus on deep watering early in the morning or late in the evening. Humans naturally need to hydrate more often than plants, but the concept is similar. Before going outside, drink up! Avoid sugary sodas or alcohol as they can cause dehydration. Instead, focus on hydrating drinks like water and juice. Remember to bring extra water when going outside, too. Not sure how much water you’ll need? Here’s a quick primer from The Mayo Clinic.
Cover Up. When spending time outdoors, it’s best to cover up to avoid sunburn and water loss. Wear long sleeves, loose or lightweight clothing, and a hat – and don’t forget the sunscreen! Similarly, we cover plants by adding extra mulch to protect their roots and more sensitive parts. Properly covering plants will also conserve moisture, which can reduce the need for additional watering.
Avoid Extreme Tasks. When plants face potentially high temps and stress, we avoid adding fertilizer because it causes plants to work harder trying to absorb nutrients. Instead, we give them time to rest and recover, then fertilize when cooler weather arrives. Similarly, if you’re planning to be outside during the hottest part of the day, your body will already be working hard to keep you cool and hydrated. Avoid heavy exercising beforehand and take frequent breaks to rest and recover when you are outside.
Despite our best efforts, the heat can sometimes affect plants and people. It’s important to know what to look for to ensure everyone is staying healthy. When caring for plants, we look for drooping leaves, overly dry soil, and loss of flowers.
Heat exhaustion in people can be a little harder to identify, which is why it’s important to prepare for extreme temperatures ahead of time and to carefully monitor one’s health when going outside. Signs of heat exhaustion can include:
● Excessive sweating
● Extreme thirst
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, get out of the heat and rest. If symptoms don’t subside, get medical assistance.
Whether it’s watering plants on your patio or spending the day outside, it’s vital to understand the signs of heat stress. With the right strategies, we can all weather the extreme temperatures while we wait on the cool breeze of fall to arrive. Give EarthWorks a call if you have any questions or concerns regarding plant heat stress at your property.
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