Summer heat is here, and proper watering is crucial for good plant health! A dry, stressed plant loses young feeder roots and is the first to be attacked by insects. Here are some of our best tips for ensuring that your plants are getting the water they need to thrive through Summer.
Water in the Morning
It is much better to water in the morning, don’t wait until evening, to make sure the plants are well hydrated going into the heat of the day. I always say if a plant has to wait for water until the evening, it’s like running a marathon, but you cannot drink until the race is over. Think how thirsty those plants must be when our temperatures are mid to high 90s and they are dry until you get home from work!
New Plants Need More Water
Since new plants have a much smaller root system that has not spread throughout the surrounding soil, they are not yet able to absorb extra moisture. It is very important to saturate the root ball of the plant at each watering – the best way is to use a hand-held watering wand. A good rule of thumb is to water new plants twice a day (depending on the plant variety) for the first week, then once a day for 10 days to 2 weeks, then every other day for 2 weeks, then twice a week through the Summer until the weather starts cooling down. For example, if you planted new plants on June 12, this would be a good watering schedule:
Established Plants Still Need Watering
Remember: “established” means over a year old. Sprinkler systems and drip irrigation are great for established landscapes with large root systems. Now that the root system has spread out, it can pull moisture from a larger surrounding area. If you don’t have a sprinkler system or irrigation system, you can set up a hose-end sprinkler with large droplets or water by hand.
Use a Moisture Meter – its not cheating!
Some plants show signs of heat stress and wilt even though they have been watered well (ex. Coleus and Impatiens). To help determine if any plant has been watered to the right moisture level, we carry Moisture Meters – just stick it into the root ball of the plant and the meter tells you whether you need to water or not. No guessing! If you know you have watered, but the plant still looks thirsty, wait till sundown, and look at the plant again; it’s usually perked back up and happy. Plants wilt and fold up to protect themselves, then perk up once the sun goes down and temperatures drop.