Keeping plants watered is a fun task of gardening, yet sometimes we’re just too busy with other things. Also, here in St Louis, every summer we can pretty much count on a stretch of hot weather with little or no rain. Over the years we’ve found techniques that make managing our gardens, containers, and houseplants a bit easier.
Water Like A Pro
- Get your plants to absorb as much water as possible by watering them in the early morning. Later in the hottest parts of the day plants will absorb less water due to the heat causing more evaporation.
- Drip irrigation or watering by hand is ideal because the plants can be targeted.
- Use timers on your faucets and the watering can be done automatically, without you being in the heat.
- Use sprinklers that deposit water low to the ground rather than spraying high into the air to minimize evaporation.
Techniques that Reduce Waterings
- Mulch. Mulching helps keep the soil cool and moist, and stops weeds from growing and stealing the valuable water. Mulch can be shredded bark or other decorative mulches. Compost makes a great mulch as it also improves the soil. Although not the prettiest of mulches, grass clippings make a fantastic mulch for vegetable and flower beds.
- Remove weeds often. Weeds steal the valuable water your plants need. To reduce weeding use Preen Weed Preventer. Preen Weed Preventer stops weeds from germinating. It only takes minutes to apply, yet saves hours and hours of weeding. See Preen here >>>
- Use Soil Moist, a polymer designed to reduce plant waterings by 50%. See Soil Moist here >>>
How Much Water and How Often
- Vegetable and flower gardens need about 1″ of rain per week, but in extreme weather may need more. Water every day or every other day.
- Containers of flowers and vegetables may need deep waterings every day or every other day. Put your finger in the soil to determine if water is needed.
- Newly planted trees and shrubs should be watered deeply when the soil has dried out. They may need water every day. Put your finger in the soil to determine if water is needed. It only takes a few days without water to kill newly planted trees and shrubs. As the plants get established, they will need less waterings. Keep a close eye on newly planted trees and shrubs for the first year or so.
- During prolonged dry spells established trees and shrubs may need occasional waterings. Apply a deep watering over the entire root zone area until the top 6 to 9 inches of soil are moist.
Vacation Watering Tips
Ideally, you will have someone come over to water your plants while you are on vacation. If that is not an option, try these techniques that we use:
- Outdoors place timers on your facets to schedule waterings. This easy to do method works great for short or long trips. Get yourself a good low sprinkler or soaker hose. Hook it up to the timer. Set your timer to the preferred day, time, and length of watering.
- If possible, move containers in the shadiest spots while you are away.
- For outdoor plants including trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, potted outdoor and indoor plants, use Soil Moist, a polymer designed to reduce plant waterings by 50%. See Soil Moist here >>>
- For indoor and outdoor potted plants use Soil Moist Vacation Mats. These mats can keep plants watered for 2-3 weeks. Experiment with the mats before you leave town. See Soil Moist Vacation Mats here >>>
- Cut off all flowers and flower buds before you leave on vacation. It will take some stress off the plants. For reblooming perennials and annuals, it will rejuvenate the plants, giving you fresh blooms when you return.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Avoid light watering as this encourages roots to come to the surface of the soil and promotes shallow root systems that dry out quickly. Plants will be more susceptible to summer heat and drought stress. WATER DEEPLY to train roots to grow deep in the soil where more water is available.