There’s nothing like a refreshing cold drink on a hot summer afternoon. When you are enjoying your iced tea, take a look at your gardens, and consider what their thirst level may be. Regular watering of shrubs and trees in addition to perennials is important all year, especially so during the heat of summer. The infrequent but heavy thunderstorms that blow through our region during the summer bring a refreshing dose of moisture, but they are no substitute for an intentional and thorough watering regimen. In general, established plants and shrubs need about an inch of water a week, and newly planted perennials and shrubs need even more than that to become established. Consider investing in a rain gauge, a simple tool to ensure that your plants are getting the moisture they need to thrive.
Watering a plant seems like one of the most basic and simple things that a gardener can do, and in many ways, it is the most basic level of care that we provide to our plants. But there are important considerations to keep in mind when watering. Firstly, is the water needed? While it is important to water regularly to prevent stress to the plants, roots need air in addition to water, so being sure that there isn’t already excess water in the soil is essential to prevent drowning your plants.
When watering, it’s a good idea to aim low and slow, and water early. Watering early in the day gives the plant time to absorb what it needs and allow the excess to drain off before night falls because just like us, most plants don’t like to have wet feet at night. Watering from the base of the plant has multiple benefits as well. By centralizing water at the base, less is lost to evaporation. Preventing excess water on the foliage cuts down on the possible occurrence or transference of foliar diseases that thrive in moisture. Watering infrequently but deeply is also better for the long term health of plants than frequent light watering because it causes the plant to reach out and down with its roots to find moisture deeper in the soil, which then strengthens resistance to stress like drought, heat, and pests.
When watering container plantings, the same rules apply, but the frequency should be upped to daily in hot conditions, as containers dry out much more quickly than in-ground plantings. Containers also need regular fertilizing, as water washes away necessary nutrients from the soil, depleting the resources available to annuals that need a lot of energy to grow their beautiful foliage and bloom bloom bloom!
By following a few common sense rules with regards to watering, you can have the greatest single impact on your gardens, ensuring their success and beauty all season long! Pouring a little water (and love) into your gardens allows them to pour a lot of beauty into your life!