Portland’s Record-Breaking Heatwave

It was 113°F in our part of Portland yesterday. Records were shattered! I stayed inside for most of the day. I found it tolerable outside only for about 5-8 minutes at a time. The plants were not happy.

The potted plants on the porch at around 2:30pm yesterday (111°F) were pretty wilted.

I gave them some more water soon after this. Some of them perked back up, but the terminal leaves of the tomato plants (on the right side of the photo) in particular are toast.

Most of the plants in our yard looked at least somewhat wilted.

The hydrangeas looked especially pathetic.

The garden bed was watered in the morning, and I watered again in the middle of the day, and the plants seemed to make it through okay:

These photos were taken around 4pm when the garden was back in shade.

According to the experts online, it’s best to water deeply in the morning (5-9am). The second best time to water is in the evening. And the worst time to water is in the middle of the day. I had been told that you shouldn’t water in the middle of the day because water droplets that form on the plant’s leaves can concentrate the sun’s rays and burn the leaves. Further investigation on the interwebs suggests that this is a myth. However, you still shouldn’t water in the middle of the day because it’s wasteful – the water evaporates faster than the plant can use it. Watering in the evening is less wasteful, but you run the risk of encouraging fungal growth because the plant will stay wet for a long time. If you water in the morning, the plant has some time to soak up as much water as it needs and then the heat of the day will dry off the rest, reducing the risk of fungal diseases. Thus, water thoroughly and deeply in the morning.

I’m guessing the plants on the porch didn’t get a thorough watering in the morning, and that’s why they perished. Also, if I had been extra generous with watering the garden bed in the morning, they may have made it through day without the second watering. This point is important because, fortunately, I was home to check on them in the middle of the day yesterday, but in the future, I will likely be at work. I need to make a mental note of this for future heatwaves.

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