Tips and Tweets to Help Plants and Gardens Through Hot Weather and Drought


Extension Master Gardener Facebook Status Update - How hot is it?Just as we were publishing the monthly update, July 5th, we asked Extension Master Gardeners how hot it was.

University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension reported that it was 66 degrees in Alaska on July 5th, but that was the exception to the rule. Most of the posts we saw on our Facebook page said temperatures were hanging around 100 degrees.

How Master Gardeners Help Plants Survive Heat and Drought

July 6th, we asked how they were getting their plants to survive. We heard a lot of good advice about helping the garden endure the heat, while still conserving water. In summary, this is how Extension Master Gardeners are getting their plants to survive (or possibly even thrive).

  • water
  • water in the morning
  • water deeply, less frequently (rather than lightly, and more frequently)
  • use native plants that require less water
  • use the right plant in the right place (so they need less water)
  • group plants with similar moisture needs in your landscape so watering can be focused where needed
  • mulch (to conserve soil moisture)
  • use rain barrels to water plants

Of course, high temperatures are even more problematic when plants are stressed by lack of water or drought.  When we posted the U.S drought monitor map,  the Madison County Area Master Gardener Association, commented:

“We are in a ‘severe, long-term’ drought area. It’s so bad that even the trees are turning brown and dropping their leaves.”

Resources for growing plants in drought

One look at the U.S. Drought map, and you’ll see the Madison County Master Gardener Association in Indiana is not alone. In fact, you’ll note many gardeners across the country are facing abnormally dry or drought conditions.  So how do you deal with these conditions?

Your county or state extension service likely distributes timely information about how to cope with heat and drought, such as this press release from Kansas State University,  Leaf Loss Means Tree Stress, which includes two resources:  Watering Newly Planted and Young Trees and Shrubs and Watering Established Trees and Shrubs.

Assembled by extension professionals in the Extension Disaster Education Network, the home and landscape list of drought resources is another source of drought information you might find useful.

Hot Tweets to Help Plants

Below we’d like to share some tweets from extension educators and communicators from across the country. Note how are others dealing with heat and/or drought and click on the links in the tweets to access see how others are working to keep plants and landscapes as healthy as possible during these warm hot scorching months of summer.

From Colorado:

In Kansas:

In Arkansas:

In Maryland:

In Illinois:


Do you have a tip for growing plants in the heat of summer? Has heat or drought caused problems for your plants or garden?

-Karen Jeannette
eXtension Consumer Horticulture Content Coordinator

Learn about Xeriscaping and Native Plants With the Pros in New Mexico

Xeriscape installed by WaterWise Landscapes in Albuquerque, NM

What’s so bad about native plants? Nothing! Unfortunately, many native plants have been labeled as weeds. As water restrictions become tighter and tighter, this attitude may change. In the desert southwest, we are teaching gardeners that it’s okay to “go native.” There should not be one standard for a beautiful yard. What works well on one part of the country may require too much water and maintenance in another part of the country. For example, landscapes commonplace in New England struggle to survive in New Mexico.

Do you know what a Xeriscape is?

For those of you that do not live in the desert, this term may be unfamiliar. It is a landscaping method developed especially for arid and semiarid climates that utilizes water-conserving techniques. This includes the use of drought-tolerant plants, mulch, efficient irrigation, and water harvesting. The xeriscape concept has been misused in the past.

Some thought it was simply covering your entire yard with rocks and, perhaps, one lonely cactus. You can use drought-tolerant plants and efficient irrigation and still have a colorful, lively yard with flowers, fragrance, and hummingbirds as seen in last January’s blog post  Lots of Beauty ..very little water (Sandoval Co, New Mexico).

Undesireable "xeriscaping"
Xeriscaping is more than rock mulch and a lonely cactus. (Photo courtesy: Cheryl Kent, Bernalillo County Extension Agent, New Mexico)

Xeriscape by WaterWise Landscapes Inc. Albuquerque, NM
Beautiful xeriscape installation (Photo courtesy: WaterWise Landscapes Inc. Albuquerque, NM

2012 Xeriscaping Conference and Expo in Albuquerque, NM!

The Xeriscape Council of New Mexico is trying hard to provide education on xeriscaping, water conservation, the effects of climate change on gardening, and to generally create awareness about conserving nature in our own backyards.

The Xeriscape Council holds an annual Conference and Expo in Albuquerque NM in late February. The Conference is followed by a free two-day Expo with vendors and educational seminars.

New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension is involved in planning the conference, obtaining speakers, providing Master Gardener volunteers to help at the conference and Expo in all capacities (everything from giving out gardening advice to selling raffle tickets to support the council).

Please consider registering for this conference. We hope to see you there!

Collaborations for New Solutions
17th Water Conservation Conference & Xeriscape EXPO

Conference: February, 23-24 2012 • Crowne Plaza, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Xeriscape Expo:
February,  25-26 2012 • NM EXPO-Fairgrounds • Albuquerque, New Mexico

Please visit our website to learn more , “like” us on our Xeriscape New Mexico Facebook page, or e-mail us at

So back to you, how might you be familiar with Xeriscaping?

  • Were you familiar with the xeriscape concept before reading this blog post?
  • Do you utilize xeriscape in your yard?
  • Can you give examples of beautifully xeriscaped gardens in your area for people to visit?

Cheryl Kent, Bernalillo County Extension Agent, New Mexico