Tag Archives: summer planting

Heat Stress in Plants

We’re into the hottest days of summer now. For many, it’s a bountiful time of year. You may be harvesting armloads of summer squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, and other favorites at this point in the season. Unfortunately, you may also begin to spot signs of heat stress in your plants, especially if you live in an area affected by prolonged heat waves. Recognizing heat stress and knowing how to prevent and stop it can improve your harvest.

What Does Heat Stress Look Like?

Heat stress can look different depending on the plant and local conditions. Here are a few common features you might see if plants in your garden are stressed.


Bolting is when a plant goes to flower and usually becomes bitter and inedible. While bolting is a natural part of many crops’ life cycles, premature bolting is often a sign of heat stress. In hot weather, you may notice your broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, and spinach bolting.


While dropping leaves can also be a sign of disease, it’s often a sign of heat stress. If your plants droop during the heat of the day but perk back up in the evening, it’s probably the heat.

Blossom and Fruit Drop

Plants may drop fruit and blossoms in extreme heat to conserve resources for survival. You may also notice misshapen or unreformed fruit like cucumbers. Often these plants will recover after a heat wave passes.


Some crops, particularly tomatoes, melons, and peppers, may develop sun scald on the side of the fruit exposed to the sun. This may look like watery spots, blistering, or discolored spots. It often occurs in plants that have lost much of their foliage to disease. 

Blossom End Rot and Other Disease Issues

Blossom end rot can be annoying when you grab a tomato that looks perfect on top and has a big black sunken spot on the bottom. While many will tell you that blossom end rot is a calcium issue, and that is true, it can be caused by heat stress. When stressed, plants can fail to take up enough calcium for fruit production even when it’s available in the soil. 

Other disease issues may also become more prevalent. Think of a stressed plant as a person with a weak immune system. They’ll be more susceptible to disease if they’re already fighting to survive.

How Do I Prevent Heat Stress?

While you can’t change the temperature, you can help your plants in other ways. Here’s how to prevent heat stress in your garden.

Keep Up With Weeding

When it’s hot in the summer, weeding is no one’s favorite task, but it is essential, particularly during these periods. Weeds compete with your plants for moisture and nutrients, putting extra stress on them. 


Once your garden is weeded, it’s time to apply mulch. Mulch is a simple way to insulate the soil keeping the soil cool and moist. It’s essential around young, and shallow-rooted plants as the top few inches of soil can heat up quickly.


Especially in times of high heat, water consistently if possible. Watering deeply in the morning is ideal because it allows the water to soak in and not evaporate. However, if you notice dry, stressed plants, water them immediately. Watering the roots either by hand or with soaker hoses or irrigation will save water compared to overhead watering.

Provide Some Shade

Especially with cool-season crops, it can be a good idea to create some shade in the summer heat. You can use tulle or row cover to provide shade. You can also use taller crops like corn, pole beans, or sunflowers to offer a bit of shade to shorter crops. Shading the soil with vining plants like squash and cucumbers keeps the soil cooler for taller crops like sunflowers and corn.

Also, spots in your garden that don’t receive full sun may be an excellent space for summer greens. The morning sun tends to be much gentler than the afternoon sun. 

Don’t Plant, Transplant, or Prune

These activities are stressful for plants and are best done in cooler weather. If you need to transplant, do so in the evening or on an overcast day. You may also want to provide transplants with artificial shade. 

Harvest in Cool Weather

Your produce will stay fresh much longer if you harvest in the early morning or evening. Plus, it will be much easier on you! If you must harvest in hotter parts of the day and are going to harvest greens, bring along a bucket of ice water. Immediately plunging greens into the ice water will help them stay crisp and fresh.

Beating the heat isn’t always easy when you’re a gardener! Thankfully, these tips should allow you to keep your plants healthy through the heat of July and August.

7 Crops You Can Plant in July

Spring and summer always seem to go so fast. There’s so much to get done in the garden. We’re headed into July, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still get some plants in. Here are a few summer crops you can sow this month.


Beans are a productive, quick-growing crop that’s perfect for sowing late in the season. You’ll need to water them thoroughly, especially as they get established, but they tolerate the midsummer heat with no problems. 

For late sowings, some of our favorites are bush snap beans like Provider, Royalty Purple Pod, Contender (Buff Valentine), and Blue Lake Bush (Blue Lake 274). These varieties are all ready to harvest in 48 to 55 days. 


The classic hot weather green, collards can be sowed right through summer. During the summer, they’re lovely shredded and added to stir-fries, salads, and slaws or blended into smoothies. As the weather cools in the fall, you can add them to soups and chili. They can also be fermented to make kraut or kimchi.

Some of our favorite varieties for summer planting include Georgia Green (Georgia Southern, Creole) Collards, Green Glaze Collards, Whaley’s Favorite Cabbage Collards, and Vates Collards. They’re ready to harvest in as little as 68 days. 


Corn thrives during the summer heat. It’s an excellent crop for succession planting to spread out your harvest. When selecting a variety, check the days to harvest to ensure that you choose a variety that will mature before your area’s first frost date. 

A few quick maturing varieties include Buhl Sweet Corn (81 days), Chires Baby Sweet Corn (75 days), Country Gentleman Sweet Corn (93 days), and Bodacious RM (75 days) which is one of the few hybrid corn varieties we carry. 

You may notice a few dent corn varieties, such as Reid’s Yellow Dent Corn, have two maturity dates listed. The first date is for roasting, and the second is for grinding and drying. If you’re interested in roasting, Reid’s (85/110 days), Hickory King (85/110 days), and Hickory Cane (85/110 days) are options.

Homemade Pickles Pickling Cucumber


Both pickling and slicing cucumbers are dependable summer crops. They can be sown in July and tolerate the heat well as long as they’re watered consistently. 

Some of our favorite options for pickling cucumbers include Arkansas Little Leaf (59 days) and Homemade Pickles (55 days). They’re both vigorous, productive, and disease resistant. 

If you’re want to sow slicing cucumbers, this July some of our favorites include White Wonder (58 days), which is very productive in hot weather, and Marketmore 76 (57 days) and Straight Eight (57 days), which are very dependable and productive. 

Southern Peas

Southern peas are also called cowpeas, crowder peas, field peas, or black-eyed peas. They’re an incredibly productive staple crop that can be grown when both days and nights are warm for a period of 60-90 days.

They’re drought-resistant and do well in warm soil. We still have some varieties available. However, the pandemic seed orders sales surge has especially affected our inventory for southern peas. New seed crops are being grown out – we’ll have more seed available again in Nov/Dec 2021!

Summer Squash and Zucchini

Summer squash and zucchini thrive in the summer heat. They’re quick to mature and are ready to harvest in between 48 and 68 days. 

Some of the varieties we recommend include Black Beauty Zucchini (48 days), Early Prolific Straightneck Summer Squash (48 days), Benning’s Green Tint Summer Squash (52 days). They’re vigorous and productive. 

Swiss Chard

Many greens don’t stand up to the summer heat, but Swiss chard will produce all summer and into fall. They can be harvested in as little as 25 days for baby greens or 50 to 60 days for mature leaves.

Perpetual Spinach (Leaf Beet Chard) is a great hot weather substitute for spinach in the southeast. Rainbow Swiss chard is a great way to add both beauty and flavor to the garden. Barese is sweeter than other chard varieties.

Add a few of these to your garden this July for delicious late summer and fall harvests. 

12 Easy Ways to Help Your Garden Thrive in Hot Weather

So far this summer is promising to be a hot one. With the temperatures climbing and much of the east coast worrying about droughts like the ones they faced last summer a productive garden may seem like a mere dream. However there’s several easy tricks that can keep your plants cool, productive, and even lessen your water usage.

Install windbreaks.

Wind tearing through your garden can not only damage plants but also causes soil moisture to evaporate. The easy solution to this is to install or grow windbreaks in your garden. Windbreaks don’t need to be solid and stop all the wind. They can be quickly made from snow or pallet fencing. If you’d like living wind breaks consider tall annual crops, shorter perrenials that won’t shade your garden too much like berry bushes or dwarf fruit trees depending on your space, or hedge species. These should be placed perpendicular to the direction of the wind.

Invest in or diy some shade cloth.

Shade cloth can be super helpful for keeping those cools seaosn plants like peas and spinach producing longer. It can also be used over new new transplants that are adjusting to field conditions or seeds like lettuce that prefer cool soils to germinate.

Use a lot of mulch.

Mulch is one of the easiest ways to keep soil temperatures cooler and moisture levels up. Plus mulch cuts down on the weeding. Great mulch options include grass clippings, straw, hay, or old leaves all of which can be combined with cardboard or newspaper.

Water your garden consistently.

Your watering schedule will obviously be unique to your garden but you sould work hard to maintain moist soil conditions. Waiting for plants to start wilting before you realize it’s time to water harms your plants’ health and reduces your harvest.

Water at the right times.

Watering consistently is half the battle but you should also try to water at the best times of day. The early morning and evening are the best times to water. Less water is wasted waisted to evaporation because it has a chance to soak into the soil before it’s exposed to the mid-day sun and heat.

Practice interplanting.

Growing vining plants like watermelons, cucumbers, gourds, squashes, sweet potatoes, and nasturiums under taller plants like corn, sorghum, and sunflowers can help you make the most of your space and keep the soil cool. The vining plants will shade the soil, block weeds, and hold moisture once they’re mature enough.

Check out our The Three Sisters Garden Guide.

Build a shade trellis.

Create a trellis for climbling plants like cucumbers or runner beans and then plant a cool weather loving crop in the shade they create. These trellises are often set up so they’re slanted to provide maximum shade.

Learn more about trellising from Vertical Gardening: The Beginners Guide to Trellising Plants.

Use intensive planting. 

Intensive planting is a principle of biointensive gardening. Plants are grown in beds, not rows and are often planted hexagonally. This style of planting maximizes space. Mature plants may touch leaves but still have plenty of room for their roots. They shade the soil reducing moisture loss and blocking weeds.

Note: planting intensively will work best with healthy soils as you’ll be growing more plants on less space.

Transplant at the right times.

If you’re transplanting crops into your garden it’s best to avoid the heat and sun as much as possible, for your sake and the plant’s! Transplant in the early morning, late evening, or on a cloudy day for best results. The plants will suffer less transplant shock that way.

Catch rainwater around your plants. 

For transplants dig your hole a little extra deep and create a basin around each plant that extends outwards a little beyond the edges of the plant’s crown to funnel rainwater towards the roots.

For planting seeds dig your trench slightly deeper than necessary so that rainwater stills runs down into it even after you’ve covered your seeds.

If you’re feeling really productive go ahead and install some rain barrels on your gutters too!

Choose crops wisely.

Early Moonbeam Watermelon

If you live in an area with hot summer temperatures it’s a good time to start direct seeding crops that can handle the heat. These include plants like watermelon, okra, roselle, lima beans, and southern peas.

Learn about Direct Sowing Roselle.

Practice good soil and crop management. 

Whenever gardening you should be thinking about keeping your soil and therefore your plants healthy. Doing maintanence work like crop rotation, cover cropping, and applying compost will keep your soil and plants healthy. Well nourished, disease free plants will tolerate the stress of hot weather much better than those already struggling.

Gardening is never easy but hot weather can be especially tough on you and your plants. Follow these tips for a healthy and productive garden even in hot, dry weather.