You’ve been caught out on a scorching day, and arrived home to find your plants are burnt. What do you do? Foliage burn is heartbreaking, but many plants recover from it. Start by watering the foliage to cool the plants down, then soak the ground around them.
If you’re expecting more extreme weather, or if it’s still hot, erect a temporary shade structure by laying old sheer curtains, shadecloth or whatever you have over the plants. Make sure the protective cover can’t be dislodged by wind.
If the cause of the problem is heat being reflected from hard surfaces, such as paving or metal fencing, use cardboard to shade your plants. Wait for the hot weather to abate, and plants to show signs of recovery, before feeding or pruning them.
For the summer ahead, make a note of plants that are likely to suffer, and be ready to protect them. Watch the weather forecast, and water plants well before the heat arrives. Also, shade vulnerable plants before leaving the house.
Longer term, consider whether there’s a better spot in the garden for plants that repeatedly suffer from foliage burn over summer. Look for a position that’s going to offer more shade and protection during the hot summer months, even if it’s sunny at other times. Move evergreens during autumn or winter, but wait for deciduous trees to be fully dormant in winter before moving them to a better location.
You’ll find more great tips and ideas for helping plants cope with the heat of summer, including how to keep the soil cool, in the December 2019 issue of ABC Gardening Australia magazine.