If you spend alot of time in your garden, like I do, you have noticed a change in your plants. In Southern Alabama, although it’s still hot, very hot,…ok I’ll stop there but, man it is hot. Anyway, in my backyard, it’s like the plants know it’s past the breaking point. If they survived until now, they’re going to make it!
The combo of the rain and then the cool nights is giving the plants time to re-hydrate and recouperate from the harsh daytime Sun. Most of the plants have already started putting on new growth again in my backyard. I see new growth on everything ! The Encore Azaleas are blooming, the Varnadoe Native Azaleas are setting buds for next year , Cigar plants are filling out, and the crepe myrtles are putting out more blooms.
Watering Your Plants
We still have a way to go with this heat, so keep in mind, most things will still need watering if Mother Nature isn’t keeping up. Plants are an investment and you can still keep them alive by watering wisely. Plants can get stressed if they make it to the wilting point very often and it will constrict and stiffen the Xylem , making it harder for the plant to bounce back even after it’s watered. If you have any remnants of a vegetable garden, keeping it watered will keep the plants alive until the temp drops and they start fruiting again , if they haven’t already. Moving container plants into the shade is another more obvious precaution you can take
Signs of Stressed Plants
Check your yard for plants that look ..bad. Stressed plants look thirsty. The limbs and leaves are droopy, leaves may even be falling off. The thing to do here is water it deep at the base of the plant. You want it to soak about a foot deep so the plant will have plenty to drink in the high heat, so hand watering with a hose and sprayer is the best. Sprinklers tend to get the foliage wet but unless you run them a long time, you won’t soak the root area thoroughly like it needs to be done.
Mulching is a good thing
If your mulch is thinning out, it’s time to add some more. If you haven’t mulched at all, consider doing it now. You can’t beat mulch for keeping moisture in the ground, thus reducing your watering needs and the extra bonus of keeping weeds down that will drink your precious plants’ water and eat up their nutrients!
These are a few basic things you can do to keep your plants going until the weather cools down enough where the watering frequency can lower and there isn’t such a risk of losing them to the heat.
In our water conserving society and in some locales, making every drop of water you apply to your garden count is imperative. Keeping your landscape’s moisture level even and consistent will lead to a healthier garden. Your beautiful green lawn, vegetable garden, and plants in containers will all benefit from this.
Here are a few tips I’ve put into practice to keep my garden going every day throughout the hot and dry season of summer and throughout the year as well.
Setup a Timer
If you have several beds close together or one large bed that requires a lot of care, look into setting up a sprinkler, drip system or misting system. In my opinion, this is the single most effective thing you can do to make watering easier and keep your yard looking awesome.
Setting up a digital timer is a must also. Utilize one with interval settings that can be changed throughout the season when more or less water is needed. The manual ones are cheaper but I have had several bad experiences with them not shutting off and running all day long, so I don’t even try these after the first one.
Pick the Right Sprinkler
If you decide to use a sprinkler that hooks to a garden hose, opt out of the oscillating type. That’s the kind that look like a big rainbow and wave slowly over and back in an arch. These are very inefficient. Major portions of the water are lost due to evaporation and the wind just blowing it away from its intended area.
Using a revolving sprinkler is way more effective even though it may not look like it to the eye. The revolving ones allow you to change distance and the area covered first of all. The heavy stream coming out of them also cuts down on loss due to blowing wind. Also the heavy stream does not evaporate easily in the heat. Revolving Sprinklers also allow the water to be applied evenly and slowly, allowing it to sink in as it makes its rounds.
Water at the Base of Plants
If you intend upon watering with a hose or sprayer, always try to water at the base of the plant. Watering at the base gets the water to the root zone for use by the plant right away. Keeping the leaves dry reduces scorching and will also helps to prevent diseases from spreading or developing in the first place.
Water Your Plants Deeply
Watering deeply means to water slowly and long enough where the water can reach down half a foot or more. This encourages the root system to reach deeper and become stronger and healthier. Water that is deeper below the surface will remain there longer as well and not evaporate in the heat, allowing the plant to sustain its moisture level longer.
Water at the Right Time
Watering early in the day is the best time. The air is usually still and the atmosphere hasn’t heated up yet. During this time, you’ll lose a lot less water to evaporation or the wind blowing it away from its intended destination.
Knowing When To Water
It’s not hard to stick to a schedule once you understand your garden’s watering needs. Let your yard tell you when its time to water. Check your soil by hand and watch the visible signs of your plants. Soon you won’t even have to think about when or how much. With a little time and practice it will be second nature!