JACKSON, Mo. – Both gardeners and their plants need extra care when it’s hot outside, says University of Missouri Extension horticulturist Donna Aufdenberg.

She reminds gardeners to take care of themselves first so they can tend to gardens and flowerbeds.

Consider gardening in the early morning and late evening to avoid high temperatures and harsh sun.

Choose lighter-colored clothing. Some gardeners opt for long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect their skin. Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen lotion with an SPF of 45 or more are a gardener’s friend as well, Aufdenberg says.

Work in short increments and “know when to quit,” she says. Drink water often and seek shade during rest breaks.

Know the signs of heat stress: lightheadedness, weakness, nausea, headache, muscle cramps, excessive sweating and irritability. Quit when you feel these and seek medical attention as needed.

Plants need extra love when it is hot, too. Aufdenberg offers these tips:

• Water seldom but thoroughly. Watering a little each day could result in runoff or root rot because of too much water. Water less frequently but give plant roots a good soaking.

• Know what “dry” looks and feels like. This varies by plant and soil. Check by looking at and touching the soil and checking the weight of the pot. A light pot likely indicates it needs water.

• Water next to the root system. Avoid aerial or overhead watering. Use drip emitters or soaker hoses when possible. Water in the early morning or early evening to allow time for foliage to dry and avoid diseases.

• Different plants have different needs. Some may need water daily. Others may need water only every couple of days.

• Add mulch to save moisture in the ground, keep soil temperatures even and prevent weeds.

• Shade young plants with old umbrellas, shade cloth, arbors and trellises, benches, row cover or light-colored sheets.

• Avoid weeding that involves tilling. This disrupts the soil.

• Do not fertilize when it is dry, especially if plants are wilting.

Learn more gardening tips by watching “The Garden Hour” on MU Extension’s Integrated Pest Management YouTube channel at

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