Christmas is over and the long summer holiday is here – January is when many people will have the time to get out and do some gardening. The high temperatures can be challenge, however, so it’s important to keep some things in mind this month:

Avoid heavy pruning of plants over high summer; suddenly exposing the stems and bark of trees or shrubs to hot sun in the middle of summer can lead to sunburn (yes, plants can get sunburn!). Some plants also slow their growth in hot conditions and will not respond with new growth as quickly as they would in spring or autumn.

Sustained temperatures above 35 degrees can put a lot of stress on some plants. This is called the wilting point, when a plant’s roots can no longer keep up with the water loss its leaves. It’s vital to ensure a wilting plant has sufficient moisture in the soil to enable it to begin transpiring again when the temperatures cool down in the evening – watering in the evening or early morning is most efficient, as this is when heat-stressed plants will take water up fastest.

On the other hand, some plants absolutely shine in these conditions: succulents, tough Mediterranean herbs and plants with silver foliage are often adapted for hot conditions. Be aware that a wet Sydney summer can be just as – or even more – damaging as drought for plants like these, so make sure they have adequate drainage and airflow around them at the time of planting.