Posted in: Environment, garden, projects On: Thursday, July 19th, 2012
The best tool for checking soil moisture is your finger! Simply poke your finger or trowel into the soil, the top 2 – 3” should feel dry and the soil below moist. Also keep an eye on your plants for the first signs of wilting or a slight drooping of the leaves. This indicates that you need to water now! If left to wilt permanent damage can occur and you may see your plant dropping leaves or notice dieback on twigs and shoots. But my hydrangea is wilting every day even though I watered, what can I do? Some wilting is ok. This happens when the plant cannot take up enough moisture from the soil to replace the water that is lost through its leaves during hot and/or dry weather. Most of the time you will see the plant perk back up once the sun is gone and the evening air cools, as long as there is water for the roots to take up.
When should I water?
The best time to water is in the morning so that your plants will be able to take up moisture before the day’s heat comes. If you don’t have time to water in the morning, late afternoon or early evening will do. Just be sure there is enough time for the foliage to dry before sundown to prevent fungal disease. I often water the pots on my deck when I get home from work, since I do not have time in the mornings. I simply direct the water at the base of the plants, so that the leaves stay relatively dry. Or you could install a timer to water in the mornings to make watering chores easier. Do not water during the heat of the day; most of the moisture will just evaporate wasting water and resources.
Water Deep, Once Per Week
Deep, infrequent watering is the key to healthy root development. Newly planted (in the last 2 years) trees, shrubs and perennials in your landscape need approximately 1” of rain per week during the growing season. When Mother Nature falls short, you will need to irrigate. For example, a new tree will need around 5 gallons of water (for every inch of trunk diameter) per week, once a week. The best way to achieve this is to use a soaker hose, TreeGator watering bag or to set your garden hose at a slow trickle. You want to leave the hose on long enough to saturate the soil at least 6″-12″ down, this may take ½ hour to 90 minutes depending on your water pressure and soil conditions. Deep watering creates a deep root system and a stronger plant that is resistant to drought. Conversely, continual shallow watering will cause the roots to grow at the soil surface where they are more susceptible to drying out. Finally, add a layer of mulch around your plantings to hold the moisture in the soil. Please Note: Trees, shrubs and perennials that are planted during the summer heat will need special attention to prevent transplant shock, check on them frequently since their root systems are not yet established.
Plants in Pots
As you may have guessed, potted plants need more attention than those planted in the ground. To test soil for dryness, poke your finger into the soil; if it feels dry to a depth of 1-2 inches, water. You may need to water daily during the heat of the summer or more if the pots are small. Terracotta pots will dry out more quickly than plastic or glazed ceramic, so take that into consideration. Grouping your pots together will help reduce evaporation and help conserve water. Be sure to drench your pots thoroughly, when a pot becomes very dry I will water it twice to saturate all of the soil. I find the best tool for soaking pots and hanging baskets is a watering wand so you can easily direct the flow of water. You can also add water absorbing crystals, like Soil Moist, to the potting mix at planting time to help to retain moisture and reduce watering.
As always, if you have any watering questions you can contact us at 215-887-7500 or email@example.com