Dealing with Summer… When to Water?

Dealing with Summer… When to Water?

Summer months of June, July, and August bring excessive heat, spells of dry weather along with possible storms and heavy downfalls of rain. All of these will take a toll on our flower gardens, vegetable gardens and newly planted shrubs and trees.

What to do? How hot is it? How Humid is it? Is it cloudy? Partly cloudy? Full sun? Windy? All these are factors. Nobody can give you specific instructions for each situation. You have to learn by doing. Somethings you do will work and some won’t. If you can’t stand to lose a plant occasionally you should not be gardening to begin with. Just because it works for Grandad or your neighbor doesn’t mean it will work for you. Every yard or garden is different. Every hole or plant is different. Maybe not much but a little.

One point I need to make early on is that just because you see the leaves on your plants flopped, it does not mean they need to be watered. The leaves flop on a plant as a means of protection from the heat. Check the plants the next morning and the leaves will be standing up good and strong. If the plant remains flopped overnight then it probably needs water.

Containers need to be well drained and in full sun they well may need to be watered daily. Again, flopped leaves may not be a sign of a need for water. Feel the soil, if it feels dry, water. Containers in the shade will likely need to be watered every two or three days. Again, feel the soil, if its dry water.

Generally, spring planted shrubs and trees need through soaking to the bottom of the root ball about every week to ten days. This requires long periods of slowly applied water. I have never had much luck trying to water trees and shrubs with a sprinkler. It wets the leaves which is not good for the plant and it does not get underneath the plant where the water is needed. A soaker hose is a great watering method for beds of shrubs or trees. A single plant can be watered by turning the hose on to just a drip. I lay it beside the plant when I leave for work and cut it off when I get home. This should put 2/3 gallons of water on the roots and it’s all soaked in the soil. Works well for me.

I actually see more damage to flowers and vegetables planted in the ground done by overwatering than I do by underwatering. Flowers planted in the shade may need watering every week to ten days. Maybe not that often. Vegetable gardens and flowers planted in full sun may need a little water weekly. REMEMBER, when I water, I apply water slowly allowing it to soak in until the soil is wet to the bottom of the root ball. I do not wet the leaves of the plants. Water on the leaves cause disease, leaf mold, etc. I realize that Mother Nature doesn’t consider this but we have to live with the results. You well may get by all summer with just rain water on in ground plants.

There are no hard and fast rules. These are some tips that have worked for me. In the end, practice helps, there is no perfect, when working with Mother Nature. Find out what works for you.