The weather really turned on the heat last month. We saw record breaking temperatures, with two days hitting 46 degrees Celsius. Those who were not prepared would have seen potted plants shrivel up before their eyes. Even people who were prepared didn’t escape the heat and saw burnt foliage down the northwestern side of the plant.
As I have said in the past, I like to leave a bit of fluff on the plant over the summer and leave a few weeks in between pruning sessions, in case there is another heat wave. The fresh, lush growth helps protect the plant and on the extremely hot days there is a bit of excess foliage that we can afford to cut off, reshaping our topiary back to it’s former glory. If looking at your fried plants is causing your stress and you find yourself circling it, shears in hand, you may hard prune. This will promote new growth that can be shaped however you wish.
I currently have a shade house full of freshly harvested plants, all with root balls that have been greatly reduced in volume. Not having roots to support foliage means that these plants will drop foliage quickly. On hot days, I spend a lot of time spraying these plants with water to slow down the plants’ transpiration rate. Though this same method can help prevent sun burnt plants, it is very laborious and nearly impossible for those who work away from home. Alternatively, there are products on the market such as Wilt Not from Yates that help reduce plant sun burn.
Hot days, like the ones we have recently seen, serve to remind us that we are never really in control. We can prune the foliage, bend branches with weights, shape the plants into whatever shapes we can imagine, and in the end it can all come undone with one act of Nature. In the end, being a gardener means persevering through the good and bad and trying (sometimes halfheartedly) to appreciate the challenges as they come.