Is the Sun Killing Your Plants?

The Houston area has been experiencing drought conditions with temperatures in the triple digits. The combination of scorching sun and no rain has wreaked havoc on many plants and trees. Bill Stamps spoke with garden experts to see what you can do — if anything — to save your plants under these conditions.
(sound of water falling)

At the River Oaks Plant house you'll find a number of little water falls among all the different plants and trees for sale. Ironically, Manager Edward Ramirez says even with triple digit temperatures, water may be the last thing your dying tree or plant needs.

"They say I have been watering a lot everyday and I say well that's the problem. The plant gets too wet then it gets in shock, and then it gets all this strong heat from the sun for about six hours and that's even worse, so just water a little bit to help it cool down. If you have a chance to come back in a few hours and water a little bit that would be even better."

Down the street at the Plants and Petals Nursery William Walcott says they too have had a lot of people asking how to keep their plants alive in 100 degree temperatures.

"People are coming in asking why their leaves are turning brown or getting crisp — that kind of thing."

Walcott says water is the answer. But in this heat there are some plants that are going to die no matter what you do:

"Like the begonias, the geraniums, the gerbers. I mean, those are gonna struggle no matter what you do with the heat right now."


The experts say water in the morning. If you have trees like palms where the tips are turning brown, they say cut them off. That will allow the tree to use more of its nutrients for the greener, healthier parts. And finally, they say don't be tempted to water too much. Having no water will kill plant or tree, but Ramirez says too much water can do the same thing.

"If you give it a lot of water, that's going to make the case worse, because the plant is already weak from all the heat. And then, drowning the root is going to make it even worse."

In this age of the internet you can find a lot of helpful advice on caring for specific plants and trees online. Now, if we could just get a little help from mother nature all that hard work on gardens and landscaping, may not go down the drain.

Bill Stamps KUHF Houston Public Radio News.