To prevent your plants from drooping their heads in summer, they need plenty of water. But how much or how often should they be watered? Is it better to water from above or below? When’s the best time of day to water?
Continue reading for how to water outdoor plants … my 10 tips will help you have happy, healthy perennials, annuals, shrubs and trees!
Incorrect watering techniques can put your prized plants at a disadvantage. Making them susceptible to disease, insect problems … and even death. When it comes to watering, there are no hard or fast rules. It’s a judgment call that depends on the type of plant, the soil, the weather, the time of year and many other variables.
The handy tips below will help you navigate how to water outdoor plants most effectively …
Tip #1: Water early in the morning
The most efficient time to water outdoor flowers and vegetables is before the heat of the day … when the soil is cool and the water has the best chance of seeping down to the roots of the plants before evaporating. Watering plants early will ensure that they have sufficient store of moisture beneath the soil to withstand the heat of a hot summer day.
The second best time to water is in the early evening. This gives the plants enough time to dry out, but there is still the chance for overnight water uptake by the roots.
Try to avoid watering late, especially if you live in a climate with humid nights. After a night time soak, leaves can stay wet for a pretty long time since they don’t have the day’s sun to dry them off. Wet leaves and moist weather are perfect conditions for fungus issues.
Tip #2: Check on container gardens daily
Soil in container gardens, hanging baskets, and flowerpots dries out more quickly than soil in a garden plot or flower bed. The smaller the container, the more frequently you need to water.
Soak the soil in containers in the morning, and, if the temperature climbs to 90 or above, give them another soaking in the afternoon. Pots hold heat, so the confined soil dries out faster than garden soil does.
Tip #3: Water less often, but thoroughly
In the flower bed, one to two watering sessions per week are usually sufficient: better to water fewer times with plenty of water; than a little water frequently.
A slight drying out before watering promotes root growth of the plants. Shallow surface watering, however, discourages deep root development.
Tip #4: Keep leaves dry to avoid diseases
Wet leaves can become diseased leaves. Kept wet overnight, leaf mold and fungus diseases may result. It’s better to water early so the leaves dry off.
Using a soaker type hose on roses, perennial beds, vegetable gardens, shrubs and trees can help get the water at the base of the plants … and not on the leaves. They’re so economical you can buy several and leave them snaked around throughout your landscape for easy and efficient watering.
Tip #5: Don’t use broadcast sprinklers
In addition to soaking the plant’s leaves, which can increase the risk of a fungal disease, broadcast sprinklers are simply inefficient. On a hot or windy day, much of the water distributed by this type of sprinkler can evaporate before it even reaches the plant and less water goes to the base of the plant.
Sprinklers that spray vast amounts of water into the air are very ineffective, most of the water evaporates before it ever hits the ground. Avoid watering on windy days as well for the same reason.
It’s much better to use, soaker hoses, watering wands, or a good ‘ol watering can to water beds and containers. You get the water where you want it without wasting it.
Tip #6: Trees need watering love too
Newly planted trees and shrubs should be thoroughly soaked with water two or three times per week for the first month. After that period, water weekly during their first growing season.
Established trees and shrubs (which are at least two years old) only need to be watered once every two weeks during the growing season … when rain is scarce. A good rule of thumb is 1 inch of water per week for established trees and shrubs. Buy a rain gauge so you aren’t guessing how much water Mother Nature provided.
Tip #7: Mulch beds for water retention
Mulching beds and containers with several inches of composted material, not only cools the soil, it retains moisture and helps deter weeds.
You won’t have to water as often (yay!) and your plants will be happier. Plus I like the neat look it gives the garden beds. Further, it breaks down over time improving your soil health.
Tip # 8: Don’t water plants with a jet spray nozzle!
Pressurized nozzles are great for cleaning your garage floor, tidying up siding, and washing off sidewalks and driveways. The powerful spray delivered can most definitely damage tender foliage and blossoms.
Also, it can disturb the soil around the roots of a container plant. If you don’t have a watering wand, just remove the nozzle from the garden hose, hook the hose into the hanging pot or container, and let the water run out slowly. Your plants do not want to be blasted!
Tip #9: Water in high places without a ladder
Please don’t climb a ladder to water your hanging baskets! I saw a neighbor doing this recently and cringed. I politely suggested she use a watering wand and told her where I bought mine. It makes a world of difference for the plants and your safety!
Watering wands definitely give your back a break. The gentle rain-like spray also doesn’t damage tender flowers. In addition, it can be used to battle aphids, mites, and any other pests that are threatening your plants.
The sprayer can be set to be soft enough to not damage plants yet powerful enough to knock off insects and drown them. Perfect for organic pest control!
Tip #10: How to water outdoor plants au natural
No, I’m not an advocate of gardening in the nude … bug bites, sunburn, and thorns … oh my! I’m referring to using nature’s water. A rain barrel is the perfect device for watering plants.
Rain barrels capture water from your roof and hold it for later use such as on lawns, gardens or even indoor plants. Collecting roof runoff in rain barrels reduces the amount of water that flows from your property. It’s a great way to conserve water and save money … it’s free water for use in your landscape.
Barrels usually range from 50 to 80 gallons and have a spigot for easily filling watering cans and a connection for a soaker hose.
Summary of Watering Outdoor Plants
When it comes to watering outdoor plants … slower watering is usually more effective. The key is to ensure that water gets to the root zone — whether you are tending to seedlings, watering perennials, quenching the lawn, or soaking thirsty shrubs and trees.
Giving your plants a drink of water is best done in the morning … if you do get moisture on the leaves, this gives them time to dry out. It’s much more difficult for plant diseases to get a foothold when the foliage is dry.