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RHS survey results


The RHS Extreme Heat Survey in July after the record breaking heatwave show that plants across the country were damaged.

The survey asked people questions about plants in their gardens that had suffered damage during the heatwave. These responses give the RHS a broad view of the immediate harm of high temperatures to garden plants and how this might be exacerbated as the climate continues to warm and extreme weather becomes increasingly frequent.

The top 10 plants that suffered the most damage were:


Many of the plants in the top 10 were expected, such as hydrangea, Japanese maple (acers) and hardy fuchsia species, as they prefer cooler conditions with plenty of soil moisture. In addition, these varieties are often planted in dry and exposed sites and this may have contributed to their vulnerability.

However, others such as roses were more of a surprise. Some had flower damage in July and August but many have gone on to have an extended flowering season and are still producing flowers in late October.

Fans of the fiery-coloured crocosmia will be reassured that the damage to these plants is unlikely to affect them in the long-term. Although their leaves are easily scorched, the damage is expected to be superficial as they are drought-tolerant plants and are likely to re-emerge.

Magnolia, rhododendron and camellia do not appear in the top 10 despite drought resulting in leaf loss, dieback and often death. Having already finished flowering by the summer, damage might have been less obvious.

If we see similar temperatures next summer, gardeners should resist the urge to prune plants that have lost a lot of leaves.
Most plants will still have live buds on their stems and branches and will leaf up again when the temperature is right and rain arrives, but pruning after heat and drought can put them under more stress. Come spring, woody plants will show where ay dead wood is more clearly, ensuring you can prune the right parts of plants affected by the heat this summer.

I hope GoY members have found this as interesting as I have!

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Thank you very much Shirley - yes, interesting and very useful. Lovely photo too 🙂.

22 Oct, 2022


Yes Shirley, interesting reading. I only seem to have lost a Skimmia, the others are fine. Though not sure about the Daphne, will have to wait until the spring.

22 Oct, 2022


Sheila, the photo is of Sheffield Park Gardens in East Sussex.

22 Oct, 2022


Eileen, both my Lacecap Hydrangeas stopped developing into lovely blooms and stayed as rather flat and dull! The Heucheras frazzled a bit, but are doing well now. Roses blooming well. I hope your Daphne survives.

22 Oct, 2022


I suspect the thing most of us will turn to next year will be vegetable and fruit gardening...

22 Oct, 2022


Thanks so much Shirley..
very interesting data.I wish I didn't have so many roses..although they are beautiful at their best...they are hard work throughout most of the year.

22 Oct, 2022


Thanks for the info Shirley_tulip. We have a similar situation here. We have not got any rain since spring and really warm summer.... and we have very strict water restrictions also . Lots of vegetation suffer.
Most leaves of our maples dried out before they had a chance to turn colour.

Beautiful picture of Sheffield Park Gardens.

22 Oct, 2022


Yes, thank you for this blog. My lace cap Hydrangea didn’t flower, lost leaves, also the Heucheras suffered & the ferns, but latter revived after a some decent rain. I lost my pink flowered Strawberry though & Goatsbeard didn’t grow. I don’t know if it will make an appearance in Spring. We will have to wait & see.

22 Oct, 2022


Ange, we will have allotments rather than gardens!

Julia, I agree with you about the Roses, yet would hate to be without some of them.

Klahanie, it has certainly been a challenging time for us gardeners!

Josie, I have a small cutting of my Lacecap Hydrangea and it's looking really healthy, far better than the mature shrub!

I think for many of us it will be a case of 'Wait and see' on what has or has not survived the heatwave.

22 Oct, 2022


Very interesting. I’m already planning a drought tolerant border for next year.

22 Oct, 2022


Ams, the drought tolerant garden featured on GW was beautiful. Did you see it? (Sorry, Shirley)

22 Oct, 2022


I found that very imformative Shirley, helpful as well especially as regards pruning, the shrubs and plants are confused enough as it is without us messing them up even more, thankyou very much for that.

22 Oct, 2022


Ams, that sounds like an interesting project.

Ange, please don't apologise. It's so good to share information on this site ... :o)

Sue, I am pleased that you, and other folk on here, are finding this RHS survey interesting.

22 Oct, 2022


Yes, we'll have to adapt. I'll see how my new hydrangeas fare next summer. They will be in the shade though. And my new Acer..:((

22 Oct, 2022


Oh! I hadn’t recognised Sheffield Park Shirley. I once did a painting of the lake there and sent them a copy. They kindly sent me a free ticket but sadly we never did manage to visit :(

22 Oct, 2022


Sheila, we used to visit the gardens when the children were young, often went on the Bluebell Railway which is close by.

That's a shame you didn't manage to visit ... I hope your painting is on view!

We had thunder. lightning and torrential rain earlier today. Blue skies and sunshine now at noon ... :o)

23 Oct, 2022


Ange2- yes I did watch it. Was very interesting. Certainly something to think about. Just my luck we’ll have a rainy summer next year! Ha, ha!

23 Oct, 2022


I forgot to say how lovely the photograph is, we've had that much torrential rain since last Weds evening I'm going for a paddy field, I think we must have had enough to more than make up for what we missed out on during the summer, the garden is loving it...Shame as most of my roses have new buds on them and my new this year Chrsanths are all getting soggy, I've lost my Pieris, Skimmia, Sorbaria and one of the new Hydrangea's, luckily I had two of those and by the lack of new growth a few Hellebores but guess there is still time for those to make an appearance, we wait and see Shirley..

23 Oct, 2022


Thank you from me too, Shirley. It's been informative and extremely interesting.
My 2 hydrangea plants were badly affected, despite water but watering and semi shade position...
My lavender plants hardly flowered too, but, have recently flowered!
My acers were actually OK, thank heavens! Only my climbing rose was ok, the other 2 I have were affected. Ferns and fuchsias were fine. We shall wait with bated breath to see if next summer will be the same.

23 Oct, 2022


Thanks Shirley!
I agree, very interesting read!
I was lucky that my hydrangeas are in the shady border, and my roses and other plants were fine.
What I did lose were some perrenials and a shrub.
It's very difficult to water in the front garden were they where , especially after my accident in the summer, so didn't get as much attention as they should have.
The front border is now finished as I have changed it for heat tolerant plants.

23 Oct, 2022


We had the thunder and sheet lightning this evening … very dramatic!

23 Oct, 2022


Sue, such a shame you have lost those plants. Here's a strange thing ... I moved all the pots of Hostas to the shelter of the polycarb. roof over the vine ... leaves turning yellow but today I noticed some new green ones appearing ... crazy!

23 Oct, 2022


Kate, it seems many of our plants have suffered ... :o(

23 Oct, 2022


Rose, well done on changing the front border. I bet it will look great next year!

23 Oct, 2022


Sheila, we had similar, with another torrential downpour at 4pm. It was black as night ... :o(

23 Oct, 2022


Very interesting to see what plants has suffered most! My Skimmia passed the summer unfazed by the heat & it got all the available sunshine every day from about 11am till the sun went down - like practically all the plants on the balcony! A few of my Fuchsias did suffer & a couple had Red Spider Mite but fortunately at the very end of the heatwave so with some pruning back & with the change in temps the plants survived.

Thanks for the info, Shirley! 😀

27 Oct, 2022


An interesting blog, thank you! I didn't lose any permanent planting but lost nearly all my veg. If the weather makes a habit of this I shall have a go at incorporating some gel crystals into some of the veg. I did try that once in a very dry border and it did work but knowing this country I don't suppose we'll get two seasons like that in succession. Famous last words? Problem was I was not well enough to carry much water so I wasn't much help to the poor things. I got one large panful of veg soup out of the lot.....

27 Oct, 2022


David, you're most welcome to the info.! A friend has a Camellia in flower today ... very strange time to be blooming!

27 Oct, 2022


Sue, what a shame over losing the veg., heart breaking for you. Whenever I hear of gel crystals I am reminded of my Mum adding some to a hanging basket. She hadn't read the instructions properly and one evening the basket went 'Snap, Crackle and Pop', exploded everywhere! It was so funny! :o))

27 Oct, 2022


Sorry to hear about your negative experience with your veg, Sue! 😢 Perhaps they will do better next year when we have a dull, wet "summer"!

Shirley, I mixed in some of these crystals a few years back when our local water company was offering water saving kits to anyone who wanted to order them so I got a pack. I can't remember if I felt they were an improvement on the baskets without the gel crystals from the years before. I only know I haven't used them since.

That was funny about them going 'Snap, Crackle and Pop'! 😂

30 Oct, 2022


David ,I seem to remember it looked like wallpaper paste when it had been mixed ... yuk!

31 Oct, 2022


Well the idea, as I understood it, was to mix the crystals directly in with the compost - not to wet it beforehand.

Perhaps I will get some again for my hanging baskets next spring - if I remember! 😀

2 Nov, 2022


Write it down in a diary or calendar ... that's the only way I remember things these days!

2 Nov, 2022

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