Midday heat causing wilt - anybody try a shade structure?

Santa Rosa, CA

I have a large veg. garden in Sonoma County, CA and have planted pumpkins for the first time this year. During the heat of the mid day, the poor things wilt, but recover in the cool of the afternoon. They seem to be growing fine, and getting plenty of water, but I would imagine the wilt would be a sign of distress. I also notice that some of the tomatoes are getting a little hot as well, but am loathe to over water and crack them.

That got me thinking to when we were in Naples last summer. I noticed that almost all the backyard gardens had a light shade structure over plants we would normally consider heat-loving - tomatoes, peppers, etc. Since the climate there is similar to what we have here, I was wondering if anybody had tried using shade to protect their plants during the mid day heat, what they used, what was the effect, etc. Is water conserved? Does it slow down growth? Do you use it in conjunction with a mulch?

Thank you for your input!

Phelan, CA(Zone 8b)

I can't answer from a whole lot of experience.... I just know that last year my garden did pretty poorly and I figured it was because of the incredibly hot mid-day sun here in the CA High Desert and the terrible winds. So, this year I had my husband build a cover over the garden and facing the prevailing wind. We used that landscape cloth you can get at Home Depot or Lowe's, the buff colored one. It's the same stuff they use in their own garden centers. It shades the garden but not totally. It is also very effective in cutting the wind. My garden is definitely doing a lot better this year compared to last. I'm not positive it's because of the landscape cloth but there's no way I'm taking it down! :)

Editing to say: I do have my tomatoes in full sun; however, they all cracked so I guess they're being overwatered. I read somewhere that it's common for tomatoes to wilt in the heat but they come back when it cools down and it does them no harm. I dunno .

This message was edited Sep 5, 2008 2:23 PM

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

When your cucurbits are really suffering from the heat and wilting, I would consider Surrround. It is a completely inert product made up of powdered kaolin clay. Mixed with water and sprayed onto plants, it provides a translucent barrier to some of the sun's heat and rays. It's a good way to give cucumbers and other plants (even tomatoes) a break from the hottest sun.

Phelan, CA(Zone 8b)

Thanks for the info, feldon. I don't believe I've ever heard of that stuff. I'll have to keep my eye open for it next time I'm at the garden center. Sounds interesting.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Something you might find at a garden center is row cover or summerweight fabric.

(Zone 7b)

I've used shade cloth in the past. I've also occasionally put some plants (tomatoes, cukes, etc.) in containers close to the canopy of well limbed up trees (or tall structures) on the west side. Yes, some shade can help - especially during the hottest part of the day.

I'm also a big fan of Surround, especially for cucurbits. You probably won't find it at the store, I order mine online from Gardens Alive. Your area might be a little different, but I seem to have the best success when I treat cucurbits as a part-sun plant here. If I put them in an area where they get all day blazing sun, they generally do not like it.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Thanks for the tip on Surround. I ordered some - not only for the sun and heat protection but it claims to deter grasshoppers. Now THAT would be great. I also found a couple of other things I liked....of course. But used a $20 off coupon so it worked out well.

Reader's Digest has an article this month that discusses how to find deals....go to www.retailmenot.com , enter the online vendor you want to order from and it searches for a valid coupon code you can use. Nice!!!

Tuscaloosa, AL(Zone 7b)

I, too, find that my garden does not do well in full sun during the hottest part of the summer. But then, that appears to be true for other plants as well. I am learning that full sun doesn't necessarily mean they should be planted in full sun in AL. So, I'm thinking of rigging up some kind of shade cover for next year. The only thing that seems to thrive on full sun here, the hotter the better, is okra.


Thanks for the link - I've bookmarked it and sent it to my daughter, too.


Not heard of Surround before. I'll check into it.


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