When Do Summer Plants Die? Avoid Losing Your Outdoor Plants During Flowering Season

Planting in the summer is tempting. However, it’s also when plants become incredibly stressed. Planting in the spring means that plants are well established by the time the worst of the summer heat hits. If you’re wondering whether or not to plant, you may also wonder when do summer plants die? Is it worth planting late in the summer? When do summer bedding plants die? Read on to find out what causes an early demise for your summer garden.

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Why Are the Plants in My Summer Garden Dying?

when do summer bedding plants die - dying flower cutting

There are several factors that contribute to plants dying in the summer garden. 

Water Stress

One of the primary culprits behind plant mortality in summer is inadequate water. High temperatures and increased evaporation quickly deplete soil moisture, leading to water stress. 

Heat Stress

Intense heat causes heat stress in plants. It disrupts their physiological processes, leading to a rapid decline. 

Soil Issues

Outdoor plant dying during flowering Dry soil

Excessively dry or sandy soil doesn’t retain moisture, leading to water stress. 

Pest and Disease Pressure

Insects are attracted to weakened plants, expediting their demise. Fungal and bacterial diseases also spread rapidly in warm and humid weather. 

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient leaching due to heavy summer rainfall or excessive watering deplete nutrients and inhibits plant resilience. 

When Do Summer Bedding Plants Die?

Planting in the summer Pansies flower

It’s important to recognize that plants have a natural life cycle and are programmed to complete their growth and reproduction within a specific timeframe. Many bedding plants are annuals, which means they have one growing season to flower and seed before naturally dying off.

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Pansies, petunias, snapdragons, poppies, sweet peas, and forget-me-nots are popular bedding plants that won’t withstand summer heat. They’re normally planted in early spring and will usually flower, seed, and die off during early summer. 

Sow heat-tolerant bedding plants to replace any that perish. Some bedding plants that thrive in hot conditions include zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, and sunflowers. 

Factors Affecting the Life Cycle of Summer Plants

Environmental factors play a crucial role in the life cycle of summer plants. Some key factors include:

Water Management and Its Role in the Growth and Survival of Summer Plants

Water Management and Its Role in the Growth and Survival of Summer Plants watering the flower plant

Plants cannot live without water, and a protracted dry spell in the summer months results in serious loss. Most at risk are newly planted shrubs and trees, bedding plants, shallow-rooted vegetables, and climbers growing close to a house. 

Even deep-rooted plants like summer roses can suffer. Growth is impaired and flowering is curtailed if you don’t provide enough water to these plants during a dry summer.

Soil Quality and Its Impact on the Growth and Development of Summer Plants

The battle against a water shortage begins long before the dry days of summer. Incorporate adequate organic matter into the soil before planting to ensure that the soil stays moist to a depth of about 9. 

Mulch in late spring and after planting, and you will have now done all of the preparatory work possible.

Light Requirements and Its Effects on the Life Cycle of Summer Plants

Light is a vital factor for plant growth and development. However, intense summer sunlight leads to overheating and wilting, as it causes excessive water loss through transpiration. 

Excess sunlight causes sunscald, the development of pale or bleached patches on the plant due to excessive heat and ultraviolet radiation from the sun. It results in cell death and tissue degradation.

Pests and Diseases Affecting the Life Cycle of Summer Plants

Pests and Diseases Affecting the Life Cycle of Summer Plants rose effected with pest


Insects and pathogens often take advantage of stressed and weakened plants, causing further damage, and accelerating their decline.

Nutrient Requirements and Fertilization for Summer Plants

Nutrient deficiencies lead to stunted growth, poor flowering, discoloration, and overall weakened plants. 

Genetics and the Influence of Plant Genetics on the Life Cycle of Summer Plants

Variations in genetic makeup determine a plant’s growth habits, flowering time, and tolerance to environmental stressors.  Some plants are naturally adapted to thrive in the summer heat, while others struggle under hot conditions. 

Climate Change and Its Impact on Summer Plant Life Cycle

Climate change exacerbates the challenges faced by your flower bed. Rising temperatures, altered rainfall patterns, and extreme weather events associated with climate change make life difficult for your summer bedding plants. They also make it difficult to predict your garden’s care requirements when the weather is unpredictable.

Effects of Pruning and Trimming on the Growth and Life Cycle of Summer Plants

Effects of Pruning and Trimming on the Growth and Life Cycle of Summer Plants trimming the flower plant


Proper pruning techniques promote healthy growth and improve airflow, reducing disease. However, excessive pruning in the summer stresses plants. 

How Plants Cope With Heat

Plants have various mechanisms to cope with heat and adapt to hot weather conditions. Here are some ways in which plants cope with heat

Transpiration and Water Regulation

 During hot weather, plants adjust their transpiration rates to balance water loss and water uptake from the soil. They partially close the pores on their leaf surfaces (stomata) to reduce water loss to help prevent dehydration.

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Leaf Structure and Orientation

Leaf Structure and Orientation Green leaf curving


Plant leaves have various structure adaptations that help them cope with heat. Plants with small, thick, or waxy leaves lose less water through evaporation. Some plants droop, angle or roll their leaves to minimize exposure to intense sunlight.

Sunscreen Pigments

Certain plants produce pigments like anthocyanins or carotenoids that act as natural sunscreens. These pigments help protect plants from the harmful effects of excessive sunlight, minimizing the risk of photodamage.

Signs of Dying Plants in Summer

Signs of Dying Plants in Summer Green leaves are dying


When do summer bedding plants die? They should flower and go to seed in the autumn and then die off with the first frost. However, if you suspect your outdoor plants are dying during flowering or even before flowering, look for these signs

  • Wilting 
  • Leaf Yellowing or Browning
  • Leaf Drop
  • Stunted Growth
  • Lack of Flowering or Fruiting
  • Serious Pest Damage

Why Do Outdoor Plants Die During Flowering?

Why Do Outdoor Plants Die During Flowering? Sunflower are dying in Summer

While die off of annuals is normal, it should only occur after the plant has flowered and produced seed. When outdoor plants die during flowering, they may be suffering from a handful of environmental factors or deficiencies.

  • Extreme heat
  • Drought
  • Extreme temperature fluctuations
  • Underwatering 
  • Pest Infestation
  • Disease
  • Nutrient imbalances
  • Excessive Pruning 
  • Insufficient deadheading

How to Care for Your Plants in The Summer Heat

How to Care for Your Plants in The Summer Heat Women caring her trees in Summer

The solution is, obviously, to water well. But make sure to consider the timing, quantity, and method used. 

There are, on the other hand, a few general principles.

Don’t wait until your plants start to show visible signs of distress during a prolonged period of drought. 

Wilting in the hot sun is expected. However, the plant should recover around, or at least shortly after, sunset. If your plant hasn’t recovered during the cooler temperatures of dusk, you probably waited too long. 

For best results, to water your plants when the foliage looks dull and the soil at 3 to 4 inches in depth is dry.

How to Keep Your Plants From Wilting in the Summer Heat

How to Keep Your Plants From Wilting in the Summer Heat watering full garden

Remember to water thoroughly to ensure the plants have enough moisture to recover from the summer heat as well as enough to allow for transpiration until the next watering.

Always water thoroughly and deeply. Just wetting the surface of the ground leaves the lower root zone thirsty. It normally results in nothing more than rapid evaporation and the germination of weed seeds. 

It also forces your plants to grow roots closer to the surface to reach that shallow water. These delicate roots are damaged by hot weather and exposure to sunlight. 

The most efficient approach to watering are soaker hoses or drip irrigation, but they’re expensive if you have extensive gardens. 

The best watering methods limit application to the immediate zone covered by the roots of every plant. This reduces water wastage and ensures every plant has a good drink. 

Water thoroughly when you have decided to water. If you are using a watering can or garden hose, hold the spout near the base of the plant and water slowly. 

The best way to determine when to water is through keen observation. Check your plants frequently if you want to keep them from dying during a particularly hot, dry summer. 

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Look for dull looking leaves or drooping stems. Dig down with a trowel and examine the soil at 3-4 inches below the surface. If it’s dry, then water. 

As a general rule water every seven days unless it rains. However, this very much depends on the water retention abilities of the soil, the amount of cloud cover, and the temperature. Don’t wait a week if your plants are drooping right now. 

Tips for Care of and Flowers in Hot Weather

Tips for Care of and Flowers in Hot Weather Flower garden Tips Text

Hopefully, these tips will help you keep your garden vibrant and colorful for the rest of the summer season.

Importance of Watering Flowers Regularly in Hot Weather

Watering is crucial for the health and survival of flowers in hot weather. The high temperatures and increased evaporation rates quickly deplete soil moisture.

Choosing the Right Location for Flowers During Hot Weather

Select a location for your flowers that provides adequate sunlight without subjecting them to excessive heat and intense sunlight. Some flowers prefer full sun, while others thrive in partial shade.

Protecting Flowers From Direct Sunlight and Heat

Use shade cloth, umbrellas, or strategically position taller plants to create natural shade if necessary.

Types of Flowers That Thrive in Hot Weather

Select flowers that are naturally adapted to withstand hot weather conditions. Some examples include marigolds, zinnias, portulacas, cosmos, gazanias, salvias, and lantanas.

Proper Soil Preparation for Flowers in Hot Weather

Improve soil quality by adding organic matter like compost or wood chips. This enhances the soil’s water-holding capacity

Mulching Flowers in Hot Weather

Mulching Flowers in Hot Weather Women Mulching Flower garden

Apply a layer of organic mulch around flower beds to conserve soil moisture, suppress weed growth, and keep the soil cool. Use straw, hay, wood chips, or shredded leaves, as much as 2-4 inches thick. 

Fertilizing Tips for Flowers in Hot Weather

Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer and avoid over-fertilization. Excessive nutrients leads to excessive foliage growth at the expense of flower production.

Pruning Tips for Flowers in Hot Weather

Avoid heavy pruning during periods of extreme heat, as it stresses the plants further.

Pest and Disease Management for Flowers in Hot Weather

Hot and dry conditions attract pests like aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. Use organic pest control methods or appropriate insecticides to manage infestations. 

Preventive measures, such as proper spacing, good airflow, and avoiding overhead watering, minimizes disease outbreaks.

Tips for Caring for Potted Flowers in Hot Weather

Tips for Caring for Potted Flowers in Hot Weather lots of potted flower

Provide adequate water to potted flowers, as containers dry out quickly. Check the moisture level of the potting mix regularly and adjust watering frequency. Move potted plants to areas with partial shade to prevent overheating. 


When do summer plants die? Annuals will naturally go to seed after flowering and usually die off in the fall. However, if your summer garden is dying and it’s only July, you should take immediate action. 

While plants have natural coping mechanisms for heat, extreme or prolonged heatwaves still pose challenges and stress even the most adapted species. Providing shade, proper watering, adequate fertilization, and appropriate mulching further supports plants in coping with high temperatures and helps them maintain their health and vigor during hot weather.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Aug 18, 2013, and has been completely updated.

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