The dog days of summer are here, and with them come hard times for some of our precious flowers, whether they are cut, potted, or in the garden. One of the unsightly symptoms of heat distress is wilting: Believe it or not, in hot weather, wilting is kind of like the plant version of sweating! There are some steps that you can take to make your flowers more comfortable in the heat and to perhaps prevent wilting.
So how do you know that your flowers are wilting from the heat? Generally, if it is above 86 degrees, especially in a dry, windy climate, there is a good chance wilting is due to heat distress. If the leaves of your plant wilt during the day but are fine by the next morning, the wilting is probably due to heat. Areas on your flowers and leaves that are brown, yellow, or white are other symptoms of extreme heat and sun exposure, as are dropped buds. Wilting because of hot and dry conditions occurs because plants are releasing moisture through transpiration faster than they can take water up in their roots and distribute it to the leaves.
If you are cutting your own flowers from the garden, do it early in the morning; plants are at their freshest at this time of the day, and if it is hot, this is the coolest part of the day, when they are not yet wilting. It is a good idea to carry a bucket of water with you so that you can put them in water immediately after cutting the stems with a sharp knife. Going without water is a big cause of drooping in cut flowers. Once you are home, cut the stems under running water. Changing the water every day and stripping the bottom leaves keeps bacteria from growing as well; preventing bacterial growth will prolong the life of cut flowers. Keeping flowers out of direct sunlight or hot spots and in a cool room will also keep them from wilting and prolong their lives, the way a florist's cooler does.