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SHARING SECRETS: We’re Having A Heat Wave…

Edited by Cathy Tylka, for Let’s Talk Plants! September 2023.

Sharing secrets. WiX stock photo.

This month’s question -

We’re having a heat wave... Can you hear me singing?

What to do? What summer gems of advice do you have to keep your garden healthy and producing or do you just give up? Is there something you have learned that you can share with us on planting, watering, mulching, etc.?

Also, is there anything you do to protect yourself from the elements of sun, dirt, pokey things and heavy objects that you can share with us so we don’t harm ourselves in the process of playing in the garden?


Cindy Bruecks, of 92107, related it in this way…

… I have one useful and rather unique way to shield myself from the sun on a hot day. Years back I found a lightweight, think portable, umbrella stand. It's made of metal, not really large at the base, and will hold an umbrella unless there is a good wind blowing. I got a lightweight smaller patio umbrella, actually a beach umbrella, which fits easily in the stand. Now if I'm working in the sun, I can position that stand almost anywhere, even among my plants, and have shade for my job.

Unfortunately, I am out of town right now, and can't take a photo of the rig. But trust me on this, it's an easy-to-move portable shade!


Barbara Crawford of 92129 relates…

… Have you taken your established trees for granted? A few years ago, I noticed many dead branches amid the green leaves. Nothing had changed but the climate. Since then, I have put drip hoses around my large trees during spring and summer to encourage deeper roots. A very slow drip for six hours every four to eight weeks has resulted in health, resilience, growth, great shade, notably lower temperatures for the entire yard, and, may I hope, less water use overall.


Greg Rubin says…

… Hi All,

To relieve stress on my native plants, especially the coastal forms like ground cover Ceanothus and manzanita, for the duration of the heatwave, I will run the irrigation ~ three times a week, but only enough to wet the leaves and the mulch. I'm not trying to soak the soil; just cool down the plants and cut back on transpiration. A good mulch, when lightly moist, can be invaluable for increasing vapor pressure and thus limiting evaporation, while allowing all but the surface of the hot soil to remain fairly dry, which limits the potential for pathogens to spread. This light, frequent irrigation basically acts somewhat like fog drip. You always want to do your watering when the soil is at its coolest; before dawn is ideal.

WiX stock photo - mulch...

As for myself, I ALWAYS wear a wide brim hat (especially since I'm follicularly challenged), wear a good sunscreen, and always have water within easy reach. Never push past the sensation that you’re getting just a tad tired - find shade and sit IMMEDIATELY! Otherwise, you are in danger of significant dehydration. If you've stopped sweating, that is a sure sign, and heat exhaustion is no joke. Working in the early morning or at dusk is also preferable.

…and Greg also shared this, with his Thanks!

“Just want to thank everybody for their patience during my recovery. The good news is that my new knee is great! Unfortunately, the physical therapy led to a severely compromised back which has set me back a few weeks. It is slowly starting to improve, and I can tolerate being in the office for a couple of hours here and there. If you have a new inquiry or if you need a timely response, please contact or call the office at 760-746-6870. I am truly sorry for the inconvenience.”

Thelma Lee of 92116 shared…

… I am in University Heights. I water almost every morning to supplement my drip irrigation system. I tend to give extra water to the edges of beds and to my pots. I never skimp on water and here is why; In this country, environmental issues are placed predominantly on the heads of individual citizens. This is while big companies continue to waste. It’s the same thing with carbon footprints. Until industry makes a concerted effort to save water, as an individual owner of a very small butterfly and bird garden, I am not about to make sacrifices that risk the health of the pollinators and creatures that depend on me.


Karen England, 92084 admits...

... I am not a fan of heat waves, but my garden is! Even though I am in the "just give up" camp when it is sweltering, I don't because currently my garden is rewarding me with lovely hot colors like this...


Question for next month… thanks to Ida Rigby!

What bulbs have you found that naturalize well in your garden?

Ida said, “The SD Hort Book Club read Tulipomania by Mike Dash and our group bemoaned the fact that San Diegans really cannot get tulips to naturalize in our gardens. (Below is one that does naturalize around here, from the eastern Mediterranean, T. bakeri ‘Lilac Wonder.’)

Photo credit: Ida Rigby.
<Rachel italics> From Ida Rigby of Poway, CA. Tulip bakeri ‘Lilac Wonder’ from the eastern Mediterranean, and does naturalize here. This is a clump that is about 20 years old and of course loved the rains we had this winter/spring.

The point is that a good question for Secrets might be, what bulbs have you found naturalize well in your San Diego Garden? I have a good selection, spring and fall bulbs, and would welcome suggestions from others.”

Please feel free to give me hints like Ida did. It’s appreciated and great minds think alike!


Cathy Tylka, RN, retired Emergency Nurse, found her love of plants and the SDHS merge many years ago. Cathy acted as Treasurer for the organization and volunteer for many activities. Now, more than happy to assist in gathering questions to ask you in the Sharing Secrets area of the Newsletter.


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