Strategies for helping trees survive heat waves?

(Jonas Dupuich) #1

There are several things I do when it gets hot.

  • water early in the day or even the day before so the trees are well-hydrated ahead of the heatwave
  • water often: after watering in the morning I’ll overhead water the trees, benches, ground and nearby fences throughout the day
  • add a layer of white sphagnum moss (or mountain moss/yamagoke for azaleas) to the surface of the soil
  • move sensitive trees into the shade: if the temps are high, I’ll move trees under benches or to corners of the garden where there’s less sun
  • provide shade for the pots by moving pots closer together (the combined canopies can shade the pots), turning trees so lower branches better shade the pots where the sun exposure is direct (typically south facing in the US), or propping a board against the pot to provide shade: (see example at
  • keeping trees on the ground can be helpful as this can insulate the pot and keep the temps on the roots down
  • I also use shade cloth and can move more trees under the shade cloth during hot spells; covering the top and sides of the shaded are can make a big difference
  • Setting trees on a tray with pumice provides extra water and keeps the pot cool - I do this a lot for accents and smaller trees, and sometimes I’ll bury the entire pot in a larger pot filled with pumice

Of course, it gets much warmer in other parts of the country and world. Am curious to hear from others about successful strategies for dealing with the heat.

(Bruce Harris) #2

A local nursary chain applies about a quarter inch of rice hulls as a top dressing to their Japanese Maples priced at more than $100. When watered the hulls remain wet for several hours in our Texas high summer heat. Others use fine grated Sphagnum moss for the same purpose. I have a ten day visit I must complete and have placed several trees in half a dozen plastic containers partially filled with cedar mulch that stays damp when the sprinkler system does work or the infrequent rain does occur. It should be interesting to see how bonsai folk living in Arizona respond to this issue.

(Mike Cole) #3

it has been well over 100 degrees in El Dorado Hills [Sacramento area] for over a week. We have decided to use the diaper approach. Actually white towels or Tshirts to shield the sides of the pots from intense sun rays.