Containers getting too hot?

morbidan(7a)June 8, 2011

I'm wondering if anyone has any good methods for keeping your pots cool in this blistering heat we've been having. All my planters are light colored blues, greens and grays, yet they still get so hot. I'm worried the roots of my plants are cooking in there.

I've started to go out at least once or twice a day and run the hose on them to cool them down but 10 min later they're hot again. I've tried keeping about 4 or 5 together so they could help shade with their own leaves but I'm not sure if it's helping.

Thanks for any advice!

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

We use a couple tricks when the weather is hot.
Elevate the containers if they're sitting on a hot, radiant surface (concrete, hot deck, etc.).
Light-colored pots, of course. Sometimes I've spray-painted pots white, and I've also seen them
wrapped in white adhesive paper on one side. If you have a board that you can lean against the pots
to shade the root-zone, that'll work, too.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 2:33PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone,


I understand what you talking about with the heat that we are having...Whew!! I mean blistering Hot!!!

Two days ago before i had to leave for work, i knew that the temps were going to be extremely high for my area (I live in Virginia) I have several Plumeria trees that i have on my back deck that are exposed to the western sun..i love to leave them there...My Plumies love the heat..but not with these temps..and since they dont have the full sets of leaves like they will in the next couple of weeks...i decided to go to Lowes and buy some white shelf easy to work with, flexible too! I just cut enough to wrap the pots on the deck..this way the "Wall of Plumeria" will be protected...they look like they have skirts on... lol...but whatever works to save them from "Cooking in the pots..." The other trees that i have by the back fence..i sink protect them as well...sometimes i just double pot them with a larger size pot and fill with mulch...this also helps if they are somewhat shaded...that way i dont have to put the white deflector liner on all of them...

Hope this helps... i think we all are worried about the temps in our containers this week...

What unbelievable high temps we are having...

Stay cool everyone...

Hope this helps a little... MY trees are happier with the "white coats!!!"

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 11:18AM
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would a layer of compost work in my timezone? 5b?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 1:36PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Great tips, Laura! Good to see you!

Achampag, do you mean a layer of compost to cool the containers?
If so, I would recommend a layer of bark to mulch the surface and help hold moisture.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 2:50PM
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ok thanks!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 11:01PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Thanks Josh!!! : )

Take care everyone..

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 1:35AM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone..

Juat wanted to post some pics of what i did to some of my containers today...we are having the heat reach up into the 100s today and we'll have then again like this tomorrow...

I had mentioned earlier that sometimes i wrap white liner around the pots..but i really didnt like the worked great for the $ but i still didnt like the look of it even if it was temporary...

So i decided to sink my pots inside other pots...i usually sink my Plumeria pots that i keep on the side of my fence. But this year i moved them to the front of the pool fence so i could enjoy them ..They do receive more sun then they are used to and they do sit on the hot, i decided to go a pick up some other pots and sink them ..I did add mulch to the inside of the two containers...

I thought someone might like to see what i did...Here are some pics..including some Dr's Plumeria..and some Hardy Hibiscus ( Texas Star)

This is the pot before and then after i sunk the pot with mulch around it...

after placing mulch around the inside to help kep the temps down so the rootr dont get to hot!!!

Take care everyone...

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 12:59AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Laura, beautiful pics! Looks lovely in ol' Virginia!
Like a tropical resort....with a Great Wall of Plumeria ;-)

I just put a pot-within-a-pot to keep a fig tree from wilting in the heat.
Great suggestion.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 1:09AM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone...

Thanks Josh!! Good Ol' Virginia is really smoking Hot today1!! We are expecting temps to pass 100*. Whew!

I was up this morning looking at a DR that i have not repotted yet...well, guess what? I did it! I have been dragging my feet about doing this one for some reason. Probably because its the largest of the four that i have. Plus things have been a little busy around here!

I will post the pics of the newly potted DR
in the Gritty Mix.

"The Great Wall of Plumeria" LOL... is starting to grow pretty well. I have quite a few inflos starting to show..

What are your temps this time of the year out in California?

I always laugh now when i think of the name..."Great Wall of Plumeria" thanks for naming my balcony!!! That is a great name for my collection!!!

My family refers to it as such... LOL

Take care everyone..

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 11:07AM
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One thing that we used to do in the nursery for our dogwood's was to line the inside of the pot with a thin (1/4") white foam. Since dogwood roots are sensitive to heat, the black nursery pots didn't help. Now we grow all of our dogwoods in below ground pot-in-pot setups.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 9:40AM
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My house has an old concrete porch (2 steps and a pad about 4 by 5 feet) going to an unused door that I've been filling with containers for the past couple of years. This area gets full on summer sun, between 10 and 12 hours in July. Most of my containers have done well but I've also lost quite a few plants (which I've been chalking up to being a newbie gardener). During the recent heat-wave (temps over 100 for more than 2 weeks, with high humidity and heat index readings of 115 or more) my new lawn guy said that I was just cooking the roots of my plants by putting them on the concrete.

So, after paying close attention to the temps close to the concrete I think he is probably right. I hate to give up such a great spot for containers, you can see it from both the kitchen and the sunporch, but I need to find some kind of solution before I kill anything else. I like the idea of wrapping the pots and may try that, and love loveplants2's idea of putting pots inside other pots filled with mulch (wonderful photos BTW!) but my containers are all differents shapes and sizes and I'm hoping for other ideas. Maybe grow something tall next to the porch, maybe some kind of sunshade, maybe something to line the concrete (a loading pallet?) and allow air to circulate between the pots and concrete?

Now that I'm typing ideas are coming to me, but other thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

I've been reading the Gardenweb forums for a couple of months now, and have learned so much but this is my first time posting...hope I haven't been too longwinded.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 9:03PM
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Laura, your plants, and your whole garden, are an inspiration. When you ask about summer temps in California, they vary so much its hard to believe it is all in one state. Within about 50 miles of the coast there is a marine influence that tends to keep down the temperatures, UNLESS the normal west wind is replaced with an east wind which will raise the temps about 20 degrees. With both a coast mountain range and high sierra range both influence the weather. We are in the coast range and the summer has been foggy mornings and sunny afternoons with a high temp of about 8o degrees. Very nice indeed. Al

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 10:44AM
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ykerzner(9 TX)

Josh: White containers don't necessarily work so well. I did a small experiment to see heat differences between white and black, like so:

1. Take one white pot, wrap with aluminum foil, place upside down on grass.
2. Take one white pot, place upside down.
3. Take one black pot, wrap with aluminum foil, place upside down on grass.
4. Take one black pot, place upside down.

The pots were 5-gallon each. They were left in the sun for one hour.

After one hour, the black exposed pot was almost melting, and the white pot was almost too hot to touch.

The covered black pot was actually cooler than the white covered pot.

I would go with aluminum foil over color, based on these results.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 9:35PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone,

Hi Ziyakr,

Thank you for the kind comment on the pictures.

I hope you can find a solution to your heat problem.

You had mentioned about lifting your pots up off of the ground. That would help greatly, and then find another solution. I did wrap myy pots in WHite shelfliner at one time. Just a thought for you!!


Thank you for the kind compliments as well!

YOu are so lucky to live out in CA!!!

Everywhere in California is beautiful to me. I had to chuckle at the different temperature changes you all have. Some of my friends live in Coasta Mesa and say the the "June Gloom" is really a problem for them. I would imagine you have the same issues in the area that you live?

Thanks for the kind message...I do love Palm trees as you can see! I was one of the first in my area to plant them 16 years ago and people thought i was crazy!!! Now itsthe new thing here in Virginia Beach!!!

Take care everyone!!!

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 9:44PM
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Where was I when you posted these pictures?

Great idea with keeping pots cool and such lovely flowers!

How do you do it? Talk about a green thumb. Your ideas always seem to work for me. In fact, I have finally been able to flower my Plumerias thanks to you.
I will e-mail you this weekend.

Lots of hugs!


    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 8:33AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

yes, elevate your containers on a pallet or on wooden slats, at least an inch or so.
Also, simply resting a board across the sunny side of the containers will help immensely.

I have a buddy who just moved from zone 7 in the foothills to about a zone 9 in the city.
His pepper plants were getting too hot on the balcony, so he spray painted the containers.
What a difference it makes! Even in the sun, the containers are merely cool to the touch.
A great technique from my experience.

Hello, Mike and Laura! Cheers from the sunny foothills of California.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 12:10PM
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tryinginfla9b(9B North Port, FL)

I bought some rolls of burlap from H.D. for shade cloth for my seedlings, and used the rest as wraps for my containers, I used some bamboo sticks placed into the edges of the pots, 4 per pot. And then attached the burlap about 6 inches above the top of the pot onto the bamboo and let it drape down to the ground. It may not be very pretty but sure keeps the pots cool, especially if you spray the burlap with water occasionally.

Good luck with the heat!


    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 3:57PM
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Ordering online, I purchased from Home Depot a 100 foot long roll of 90% shade cloth in natural color. I was intending to use if for roman shades on the western exposed windows of my house. Actually it worked for that very well, and had a great look from the outside.

But now I have decided to use this to shade the deck from the late morning sun, when the bougainvillea in a pot begins to wilt. I have it on a rolling dolly so I can move it as needed, but it is quite large and I'm not always there, so having a bit of overhead shade, besides the umbrella over the table, keeps it from wilting. I also have some potted culinary gingers in smaller pots, and they appreciate the light but not the full sun.

The shade cloth is a looser weave, but feels like Sunbrella fabric. Great for people as well as plants. I do not work for anybody, just play. :)

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 11:06AM
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Just wanted to update in the middle of this hot hot hot heat wave. This year, so far, the containers on my concrete porch are doing much better. I changed two things...first elevated them with a wooden pallet, and second got much BIGGER containers (11 gallon tubs actually). Also taking as much advantage of part shade areas as I can, moving smaller containers into it has helped immensely.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 5:46PM
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I second the aluminum foil rather than the colors of the pots, and suggest mylar car shades as the shading material around the pots. Bigger pots helps, too-- most of my stuff is in the 20 gallon yard tubs.

Laura in VB-- how beautiful! Thank you for posting your pictures.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 8:20PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Great idea everyone!!!

Thank you merrybookworm!!


    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 3:21AM
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Do the same container in a container cooling idea here With extra soil mixes or other fillers inside the outer container. Very smart idea Laura as the weighted outer container also helps reduce or prevents wind blowing the taller and more leafy items from getting toppled over easily.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 12:27AM
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Your plants look amazing. They are picture perfect:)

I agree with greenman that white pots do stay a little cooler.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 11:32AM
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One thing that I've done that's has many advantages is to build a freestanding stairway for containers to sit on. It moves them off the ground, especially hot concrete or decks, and I face the stairway south. Each plant gets plenty of light, and blocks light from hitting the container above it (except the first row of course. It's aesthetically pleasing, reduces space usage, makes watering, fertilizing and trimming much easier. and air can circulate around the containers and plants as well.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 4:17PM
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