GreenGrass Blog

Tulsa Gardening - Heat Stress: Survival & Recovery

Posted by Kathy Wilder on Wed, Sep 12, 2012 @ 08:35 AM


At one point in August, after days and days of over 100°, I figured my zone 7a gardens were a lost cause. Even my tropicals in the shade garden showed blistered and crunchy leaves. Of course, that didn't keep me from spending exorbitant amounts on my water bill...just in case.  I had Sunpatiens that were literally laid out flat on the ground, even though they were a good 12" tall just a week before.  And my regular impatiens just stopped flowering.


Then we got a few good rains, one of them 3", and the temperatures came down.   Awesome!   My flat, brown fescue leaped to attention, and my bermuda greened up practically overnight.  Nothing like rain to boost your lawn care!   Last week I noticed a row of bradford pears that were actually blooming! (They must be very confused...)


So what survived in the garden, and what didn't?




3 weeks ago, this bougainvillea consisted of bare sticks, but it has come back very well!


 Japanese maple under heat stress


I'm afraid that the lace-leaf variety Japanese maple in my shade garden didn't care for those high temps.  These have always seemed like pretty tough little trees, and both of ours have weathered extreme winters. But the excessive heat this year was a bit much, and they both show a lot of sun scorch.  I'm sure they'll recover, but we may need to do a little pruning.



hostas with heat stress

Most of my hostas (and I have a LOT) bit the dirt.  Apparently they can't take a little morning sun when it's 110°.  I'm pretty sure they'll come back next year, because they've never let me down before.   

hydrangea drought
This is some type of hydrangea, or maybe related to a hydrangea?  When I bought it at a little nursery/produce place in Skiatook, the owner said he couldn't remember exactly what it was.  Anyway, it was going great guns all summer, and when the really hot temps stuck around, it got scorched!



angelonia & portulaca

On the other hand, the angelonias and portulaca never missed a beat!


celosia drought

The celosia was doing so well until the heat.  Then it got scorched, and a few plants just keeled over!



caladiums white


The white caladiums did fabulously well, much better than the red or pink.


plants around light pole


These things get morning sun and then dappled shade - they didn't even blink through the high temps.  I had originally planted double begonias here, around the lamp post, but they just shriveled up and died in the heat, so I found these at the end of June.  They were labeled "Wandering Jew Plant" (?) and they haven't shown any sign of heat stress at all!  I will definitely look for them next year, even though I don't know what they really are. I found nothing that looks like them under "wandering jew plant" -- does anyone know?


begonias in planter on house

These begonias on the side of the house did very well, considering they get an hour or so of late afternoon sun!




I rescued a couple of leggy coleus from the "only-fifty-cents-cuz-they're-gonna-die" shelf in Wal-Mart, and planted them in front of a perennial japanese silver fern which was having a hard time with the 100° morning sun.  The coleus flourished and did a good job of shading the fern (so good that you can't see the fern in the picture -- note the struggling hosta behind the green coleus.) 


The only problem that remains is the leaves that have been falling for at least a month -- it's really hard to keep the lawn and beds cleaned up.  However, we have a lot of large trees and we're usually knee-deep in the fall, so maybe it won't be so bad this year, since a lot of them have already fallen! 

Topics: drought survival 2012 in the garden