Record heat is putting on the growth

  • Article by: CONNIE NELSON
  • Star Tribune
  • May 25, 2010 - 4:10 PM

If you can't stand the heat, get out in the garden.

That's how some pros recommend responding to this taste of July in May.

"I consider this really perfect gardening weather," said Lou Gerten, president and co-owner of Gertens Greenhouses. "You know what this kind of heat is going to do? It's going to get things off to a really good start."

Some plants, temporarily stressed by the quick climb in mercury, might wilt a bit, he said, but because it's still spring, "we don' t have the same intensity of sun that we do in July." Instead of getting burned, warm-weather annuals and perennials are growing crazy fast.

In the long run, that might not be such a good thing.

"If we continue to see these high temperatures for several weeks, our late-spring bloomers will be impacted," said Shirley Mah Kooyman, a Twin Cities botanist and plant information specialist. That means peonies may have a shorter bloom time, lettuce may get bitter and bolt and pansies may "be toast."

But if it cools off a bit, and we continue to get good soaking rains, we'll just be ahead of a typical Zone 4 spring.

"It would be like we're Zone 6," said Kooyman. "Then we wouldn't have any more zone envy."

To prevent wilting, Kooyman suggests checking on your plants (especially those recently planted or in containers) at least once a day. Water if the soil feels dry. And you may also want to consider mulching earlier this year, to help hold in some of the moisture.

If you have containers of early spring bloomers, such as pansies and violas, Gerten said, you might want to move them to the shady side of the house for the duration. But he's not all that worried about how our plants will fare.

"It's more uncomfortable for us than it is for the plants," he said.

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