Keeping your property adequately watered throughout the summer, especially when we are experiencing such intense heat, is a struggle that all of us have experienced to some degree. While many of us have struggled most with keeping our plants adequately watered, it is likely that not many of us have stopped to think about the possible negative effects of our watering habits. Is it possible to overwater your plants? Does watering at different times of the day have an effect on your plants? Are you noticing weird burn spots on your plants? These are all things that are important to be aware of if you want to keep your plants healthy and beautiful throughout the entire season.
Can You Overwater Your Plants in the Summer?
While this may seem like a difficult task, it is definitely possible to overwater your plants during the summer! While many of your plants such as your annual flower baskets may need water daily or even twice per day, this amount of water may overwhelm and stress other plants. And with the heat of the sun already being a stress factor, adding more stress to the plant's root system can prove to be detrimental. Generally, you do not want the soil around your plant to remain soaked, but you also don't want to let it dry out completely. Either extreme is not healthy for the plant. Whether your plant is growing in the ground or in a container, testing the moisture in your soil is an easy way to tell if your plant needs more or less water. You can do this in several ways! There are plenty of different options for soil moisture meters, or you can do it the old-fashioned way and stick your finger in the soil to gauge the moisture levels. Generally, if the top 2-3 inches of soil is dry to the touch, that is an indication that it is time to water! If you feel any moisture in the soil, or if any of the soil sticks to your finger, wait another couple of days before watering. This is a great tactic for many of your plants including your porch pots, flower baskets, and even your indoor houseplants! If you are testing the moisture levels in your garden or flower beds, using a shovel is helpful. Simply dig down a couple of inches near the base of the plant in question and feel the soil with your hand. Again, if the soil feels moist at all, wait another day or two!
Does It Matter What Time of Day You Water?
Watering at the appropriate time of day is HUGE! Did you know that you can lose 25%-50% of the water used to water your plants if you water during the heat of the day?? If you are watering your garden with overhead sprinklers, much of the water particles can either evaporate or be carried off by the wind. Even if you are watering using a drip irrigation system, much of the water will quickly and easily evaporate out of the soil before your plants even have a chance to soak it up. The same goes for potted plants! This is bad for your plants since they are only receiving a fraction of the water they need, and it is also bad from a water conservation standpoint if nearly half the water you are using is being wasted. With all that being said, watering during the coolest parts of the day is ideal. Set your sprinkler schedule to water in the early hours of the morning, and water your porch pots and flower containers in the morning when you wake up or in the evening when before you go to bed. You can even pick up a water timer from your local garden center to aid in late-night watering. Not only is this a more efficient use of water, but it will also give your plants time to soak up the water they need to survive before the heat of the sun takes the rest.
Avoid Getting Water on the Leaves of Your Plants
The way you water is also just as important as when you water or how much you water! Always be sure to water your plants from the base of the plant. Avoid showering water over the whole plant. Getting the foliage of your plant wet like this can have several adverse effects. Oftentimes, water droplets on the surface of a leaf act as a magnifying glass, and when the hot sun is shining on the plant for several hours out of the day, this can often cause little burn spots wherever there was a drop of water. With more sensitive plants, this can cause enough damage that the plant may not be able to recover.
Another issue that can arise from overhead watering is related to airborne fungal diseases. Your plants are much more susceptible to things such as powdery mildew if the leaves of the plant are damp, as spores that have been picked up by the wind are much more likely to stick to a wet leaf. The damp surface also makes for prime growing conditions for such fungal diseases, making it much easier for the disease to grow and spread. If the leaves of your plants remain dry, it is much more difficult for these fungal diseases to latch onto the plants, and even if it still does, the growing conditions will not be nearly as favorable.
So, if you are watering using a hose, be sure to place the nozzle at the base of the plant to avoid getting water on the leaves as much as possible. If you are watering your garden, consider installing a drip irrigation system instead of using an overhead sprinkler system or showering your plants with a hose. This will help keep the foliage of your plants dry and will also help with your water efficiency as less water traveling through the air means less will be evaporated by the sun or blown away by the wind.
Does Your Plant Have Enough Nutrients?
While this may not be directly associated with watering too much, the amount of water your plants will need throughout the hot summer months can all too easily lead to the soil becoming stripped of all its nutrients. With your flowerpots or hanging baskets, watering once to twice daily can lead to many of the nutrients getting washed out of the soil. Similarly, your garden fruits and vegetables use so many nutrients that there often aren’t enough in the soil to sustain healthy plant growth throughout the entire season. This makes regular fertilization SO important. Whether it is your annual flowers, perennial plants, garden vegetables, or your trees and shrubs, applying a plant-specific fertilizer several times throughout the season will be the difference between healthy and unhealthy plants. We recommend NOT going with the all-purpose fertilizer you may find at big box stores, as this really isn’t as “all-purpose” as it may sound. Many of your annual flowers will need a fertilizer that is high in phosphorous to encourage blooming, while the tomatoes in your garden will crave a calcium-rich fertilizer. So, do your research on the best kind of fertilizer for your plants and make sure they have the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong all season.
Consistent Watering Is Key!
Another quick tip to keep in mind: regular, deep watering is better than frequent, light watering. Your plants will benefit much more from a slow and deep watering a couple of times a week than they will from a quick splash every day. Placing your hose at the base of a shrub at a slow trickle for a couple of hours will allow the water to soak deeply into the soil and around the roots where the water is needed. In contrast, turning your hose on full blast for several minutes may put out the same amount of water, but it will just spread the water across the surface of the ground and only allow it to soak a couple of inches into the ground where it will be out of reach of the roots of the plant. This is true for all plants, though it is most applicable to larger plants such as your trees and shrubs since their root systems reach much deeper and they require more water to sustain themselves.
Need More Help Knowing How to Water Your Plants During the Summer?
If you need more help or have specific questions relating to your annual flowers, garden fruits, and veggies, perennial plants, trees, or shrubs, please don’t hesitate to reach out! Our fort collins boutique is here to help with any of your plant needs. You can fill out a form on our website or feel free to give us a call any time!