Proper Plant Watering Techniques
Whew – we are in for a “SCORCHER” this week with temperatures peaking in the mid to high 90s and heat indexes over 100. So what do you do to help your plants and garden beds deal with this onslaught of heat and humidity while you bask in the A.C. Well to begin…
All plants are susceptible to withering and damage during a heat wave. New plants, however, are more likely to suffer irreparable damage because they are not established in the garden yet. They have not developed much-needed deep taproots, which stay moist longer than shallower roots and help search for water when water is scarce. Always paying attention to the watering needs of plants, especially new ones, is important, and a heat wave is a critical time in any plant’s life. Develop a couple of good habits so your plants not only survive a heat wave but thrive.
1 – Water plants deeply during morning, when temperatures are coolest. Apply at least 1 inch of water to moisten their soil thoroughly. Watering encourages plant roots to grow deeper, where they are less susceptible to heat. Place a soaker hose around your new plants, and set it to emit a small trickle of water for about one or two hours.
2 – Feel the new plants’ soil in mid-afternoon to late afternoon. If it is dry to the touch at about a 1-inch depth, then apply another 1/2 to 1 inch of water to the soil.
3 – Water the plants again the next morning, and continue with this watering schedule as long as the heat wave lasts.
Conserving Soil Moisture
1 – Pull weeds from around your new plants. Weeds use soil moisture that your new plants need, especially during a heat wave.
2 – Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch, such as bark or wood chips, around the new plants. Mulch helps to conserve water in soil, preventing it from drying out too quickly during hot weather.
3 – Move pots and hanging baskets to shadier locations. Those full, lush hanging baskets can almost be impossible to keep watered during hot, windy days. The best thing you can do is take them down and place them in a location where they will get morning sun until the weather cools down. Moving other container plants to a shadier location will make your watering chores easier
Don’t fertilize plants during a heatwave. Plants that are dry can take up too much fertilizer at one time which will cause their leaves to burn and could even kill them. Wait until temperatures drop to fertilize.