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Heat wave takes its toll on outdoor plants

By Ryan Cornell

Don't let your friends die this week...

Friends, in this case, of the leafy persuasion who happen to live outside.

As temperatures climb into the high 80s and 90s, the heat poses a severe health risk to outdoor potted plants.

The heat already has claimed some casualties. David Lassiter, who runs E. Pearl and its backyard garden in Strasburg, said he's lost several plants to the heat. His more sensitive plants, the impatiens, begonias and petunias, are completely fried.

But to avoid the same fate, Lassiter has some tips for residents with plants of their own. If the pot is too large to move inside, he recommends setting wet sponges on top of the soil to keep it wet.

Two other strategies Lassiter shared is to stick a water-filled soda bottle upside-down in the soil or placing the pot in a bucket filled with a couple inches of water. Although, he added, you need to keep the plant in the shade or else the water, heated by the sun, can boil the plant.

"The water gets hot," he said. "It's almost 80 degrees going directly to the roots."

On a hot day, steam from the water can scald the leaves and kill the plant.

Lassiter said people can prevent this by watering early in the morning and late in the evening. "You want to water deeply," he said. "You don't want to just sprinkle the dirt. You want to soak the plant."

And perhaps most important of all, don't forget to keep your plant hydrated.

"If you miss one watering and they dry up, that's pretty much it," Lassiter said. "Once they get cooked, they're cooked."

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com

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