Damage from the Heatwave

Damage from the Heatwave

blue hydrangea
BEFORE photo of my pretty pastel hydrangea taken on June 14th.  It looked just like this, but a little bigger on July 4th.

Plant damage from last week’s heatwave showed up pretty quickly.  Despite my best efforts to water well ahead of time, it still ended up being a real scorcher for some of my plants.  My ‘Stargazer’ Oriental Lilies had just opened but they turned to toast the first afternoon. Tender growth on partial sun plants became burnt and crispy, especially on the West facing sides of the plants. With temperatures soaring above 110 degrees and practically no humidity, two of my front yard camellias, the hydrangea, and the ferns probably felt like I dug them up and transplanted them to Death Valley. Death Valley was actually cooler than here on our hottest day last week.

Burned flowers on plant
The AFTER photo shows the flowers on my hydrangea all crispy by July 8th. I love my hydrangea because normally the flowers look nice through most of the summer, changing color gradually as the season changes to fall. It won’t look as pretty this fall.
bolivian fuchsia fuchsia berry plant
My six month old Fuchsia boliviana ‘alba’ was preparing to bloom, but lost the majority of its leaves. I am guessing it was more due to the lack of humidity since I have a red variety that was in a pot adjacent to the grey water surge tank that looks alright. The only remaining leaves on ‘alba’ are at the very top of the 3 foot tall plant. I think it would really be happier living in a cloud forest, rather than Southern California. If it dies, I am unsure if I will be able to buy a replacement.
Camelia after heat event
This is one of my camellias that got scorched pretty bad. The damage is all facing West.

I am waiting a few weeks before I start to clip off the damage of the shrubs and ferns. Although the burned leaves and flowers look awful, I have learned the hard way in past summers, that doing so too soon on these exposes the fresh foliage underneath, not yet used to full sun, and leaving it vulnerable to burning again in the next heat wave.

So Cal in September often has some really hot days, but by then the shadows from the house provide cover. As bad as all these photos look, the majority of the yard is actually doing okay, but I am really hoping we don’t see these crazy high temperatures again this summer.

leather leaf fern damaged by heat
The ferns adjacent to the camellia and hydrangea have been in this area for more than a decade and they have never suffered this kind of damage, even in the worst part of the drought.
VooDoo Fuchsia with damage
‘Voodoo’ Fuchsia got all crispy too, even though it was in full shade under the backyard tree
Stressed Figo Preto in a pot
The record heat stressed my potted fig trees. It isn’t noticeable in the photo of this Figo Preto, in a 25 gal. pot, but the few figs that would have been the first to ripen in another week or two, each had a small rotten spot on the outside. They quickly changed color looking as if ripened, but hidden inside was a nasty, squishy pithy mess. In disgust, I chucked them on the ground. Later, the less picky chickens came by and gobbled them up.
burned strawberry verrte fig
This brown and yellow spot is the damage on the fruit of my Strawberry Verde fig tree. Fortunately, this fig tree is a little further behind in ripening than the Figo Preto and I only found one burned fig on it. The tree is in a spot that only gets morning sun.

4 thoughts on “Damage from the Heatwave

  1. Hello Ms. Lianne! 🙂 I loved your article on Backyard Chickens and followed your link over. (Article: “Chickens Ate my Garden” LOL)

    I’m on the other coast and had the opposite problem–monsoonal rains that lasted over a month. Every single peach on my young tree split from the deluge, and my Beefsteaks followed suit. =( Quite a lesson in what over-watering would do to a garden, tucked that experience away for future reference. =(

    I love your wee place here! Your photos are fantastic. Oh, and I like your walkway, especially your choice in those grey pavers. Very pretty! How are your chickies doing lately? 🙂

    1. Thank you for the kind words.
      As much as I complain to friends about the bad year for fruit trees, I guess we are blessed not to have to deal with humidity and fungal issues much. A little rain sure would be nice though, especially with all the forest fires in California right now.

      The chickens are doing better now that we are back to normal summer coastal temps in the 80s. They are enjoying the overabundance of figs, grape leaves, tomatoes, and fruit from the grapes.

  2. Heat waves are hard on everyone, plants included! I feel like the damage is not only from the heat and dehydration, but also from the sun, which is also stronger during these periods. Last year I made a canopy out of a light tablecloth to shade my community garden plot during heatwaves, and it helped a lot, but this may be harder to do with a larger garden…

    1. I like your idea of a table cloth for shade. I only have a few small old window sun block screens I prop up over specific plants as needed, but nothing large enough for a camellia or hydrangea. One is protecting my young Sharwil Avocado tree currently.

I would love to know what you think about this.

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