The Q&A Archives: Left plants in a heated car

Question: Today, I came home from the nursery and left my plants
in the car (a few shrubs, like hydragea, azalea,
daisies, salvia), expecting to come back to get them
after about 10 minutes. Well, I had logged onto my
computer and had to deal with a technical issue at
work, lasting way more than 10 minutes...1 1/2 hours.
I came back to my car, and because of the high heat
today (92 degrees), it was an oven in the car, and my
plants were wilted, many leaves dried. I took them
out and planted them anyway. Is there any salvation
to these plants, or did I kill them???

Help! Thank you.

Answer: Only time will tell whether or not your plants will recover from their ordeal. Plant leaves take in and release gases and water vapor through pore-like openings on their surface called stomata. Around the stomata are specialized cells called guard cells. When the leaf has plenty of moisture, the cells fill up with fluid and get turgid, which makes the stomata open and release water vapor. When the plant has little moisture, those guard cells become empty and flaccid and the stomata close, conserving moisture. Water vapor is also conserved by the waxy cuticle on the leaf surface. Wilting is a sign that the process has shut down. Tissue damage may or may not be fatal to the plants. You did the right thing by planting everything and giving them a long drink of water. You'll just have to wait, and hope, that they will recover.

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