Arizona Landscaping; Heat Stressed Plants

Arizona is in for another record-breaking Summer this year! Can you believe it? With last summer being the hottest on record for Phoenix and with the effects of the last two years of drought, we’re expecting plants in Arizona communities to feel the burn this year!

So far this Summer, the increasing temperatures and summer storms have begun to cause heat stress and storm damage to many landscapes already. As July turns into August,  we are expecting temperatures to continue to rise- increasing plant stress and the possibility of plant fatality.

How to Tell if a Plant is Heat Stressed

When a plant enters heat stress from drought and extreme temperatures, it begins to take drastic measures to ensure survival. These measures include the rolling and/or wilting of leaves in an effort to reduce the amount of leaf area exposed to the sun, the increase in letting the outer edges of the plant die off/burn in an effort to keep water at the base (the most important part) of the plant, and the production of fewer flowers.

Some plants may appear dead or damaged during the day only to revive at night when temperatures drop and the sun goes down. This is a great example of the plant protecting itself from the sun during the day and then returning to a less-stressed state after the threat of the sun/heat is gone.

It is important to closely monitor plants that appear to be experiencing heat stress and to adjust your landscaping care accordingly.

How to Prepare & Care for Heat Stressed Plants

In order to avoid the effects of extreme heat as much as possible it is a good idea to follow these guidelines for plant care:

Refrain from New Plantings: While temperatures are on the rise, it is a good idea to refrain from placing any new plantings in your landscape. Planting new material will expose the plant to extreme heat and will cause stress on the plant before it has a chance to really grow and thrive. It is strongly recommended to wait until the cool temperatures of Fall arrive when it comes to adding new plantings to your landscape, should you have to!

In addition to staying away from new plantings, it is smart to also avoid excessive pruning of existing plants. Over-trimming can expose more of the plant to the heat/sun effects and cause deeper, more fatal, damage to the base of the plant.

Change Your Watering Strategy: With the days becoming longer and the excessive heat hitting the valley, it is crucial to update your watering strategy when it comes to plants. It is advised to water your plants in the early morning prior to the hottest parts of the day to avoid rapid evaporation and increase absorption. A good rule of thumb, according to the University of Arizona Collaborative Extension , is to water until the soil is wet to the depth of your plant’s root system. This would be a three-foot depth for trees, a two-foot depth for shrubs, and a one-foot depth for your small plants, such as annuals.

Prioritize Trees and Shrubs: As opposed to small plants that are usually changed out seasonally, the trees and shrubs in your community landscape are long-lived investments that have most likely survived a couple of summers already. The removal of trees and shrubs can be much more costly than changing out your seasonal plants and because of this, it is a good idea to prioritize them when it comes to the resources and time you are providing your landscape. To read more on tree care in the Arizona Monsoon season, click here.

Commercial Landscaping- How we Handle the Heat

As a commercial landscaping company, servicing the landscapes of large HOA communities here in the Valley, we here at ELS Maintenance follow a heat stress strategy during the months where we experience extreme heat. Our team typically works to leave as much foliage as possible to act as a shield for the base of shrubs and trees from the heat and sun. As soon as temperatures drop back down around 100-105 degrees, we are able to cut back stressed material to where the green foliage is still at or to the ground and allow the plant to come back naturally. We leave this choice up to the board/HOA community we work with. In addition to this, our team increases water usage and monitors our community landscapes closely to ensure they are looking their best throughout Summer.

Want to learn more about how we can keep YOUR commercial property or HOA community looking great this Summer? Reach out to our qualified experts today or fill out our Request a Bid form for a free estimate in one of your communities.

Stephen Stewart-Business Development Manager- [email protected]