Tip Sheets

Surviving the heat: Tips to keep your vegetable garden healthy in high temps

Media Contact

Kaitlyn Serrao

With several days of temperatures in the 90s in New York, home gardeners may be worried about their vegetables and the measures needed to protect them from the high heat and bright sun.

Stephen Reiners

Professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science

Steve Reiners, professor of horticulture at Cornell University, shares key steps you can take immediately to help your garden vegetables survive this heat wave.

Reiners says:


“It’s only June and we are experiencing record-breaking high temperatures, which is not good for our vegetable gardens. Temperatures over 86 degrees Fahrenheit cause stress in plants as they go into survival mode, waiting for cooler weather to return.

“Here are some essential steps to get vegetables through the heat: 

  • “Water, water, water! Preferably in the morning. About 50 gallons of water for every 100 square feet of garden, every other day during the heat.


  • “For container-grown plants, water twice a day, until you see water flow out the bottom of the containers. Move containers to a shadier part of the yard. 


  • “If your garden is small, provide shade in the afternoon. Old sheets, shade cloths, even a beach umbrella can help.


  • “Don’t transplant any new veggies until the heat subsides. Small transplants will be killed.


  • “Don’t apply any fertilizers or chemicals, either conventional or organic, during heat as it can burn plants.


  • “Weeds thrive in the heat so don’t stop weeding!”

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