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Mountain West Regional Reports

Protect Plants from Heat in Edible and Ornamental Gardens

Help your plants cope with blistering summer weather

Many plants are extremely stressed when temperatures reach 100°F or higher. Photo: Leslie Kuss

When you’re hot, you’re hot, especially if you are a tomato or a bell pepper and stuck in the ground.

There’s not a whole lot you can do to protect plants when the thermometer reads a scary 100°F or higher. Plants, like people, go into survival mode at this temperature. In order to stay alive, they shut down their productivity. The pollen in blossoms dries out and may become unviable. Flowers stop setting new buds. This is especially troublesome when evening temperatures stay above 75°F. Optimal growing conditions for tomatoes are daytime temperatures of 70°F to 85°F. Growth slows down at 86°F; it will stop at temperatures above 100°F. Cherry tomatoes and hot peppers are a little less susceptible to these conditions. Heirloom tomato varieties may suffer more. Beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, and summer and winter squash are also susceptible to stress from high temperatures. Flowering…

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