The weather has been so hot and dry in Asheville and the entire southeast this summer. Even established and drought-tolerant plants are showing signs of stress from the high temperatures and lack of rain. Many homeowners don’t realize how long it takes for new plants to get established and how often they need to water them.
Watering Your New Landscape
We all have busy schedules and watering may not be a priority when the plants appear to be doing okay with just water from rain. Some plants, such as hydrangeas, show us early when they’re stressed while others don’t let us know until it’s too late to save them or large portions of the plant die off. These include trees and evergreen shrubs.
It’s also easy to put off watering plants when it’s so hot that we’re uncomfortable and battling mosquitoes.
- Water your plants deeply every 2 to 3 days rather than small amounts daily. Watering deeply means using a hose with a gentle stream of water and individually watering each plants for several minutes. If the water starts running off quickly, move on to the next plant and then return to the previous one.
- You don’t have to water all of your plants at once. You can divide your landscape into areas and water an area at a time.
- If a plant starts to wilt, check the soil moisture. Water it immediately if it’s not moist. If the soil is moist, the wilting can be the stress of the heat, sun or another problem.
Rainwater and Soil Moisture
- New plants need about 1 to 2 inches of water every week- possibly more in really hot conditions. A rain gauge is useful in monitoring the amount of rainfall each week. Keep in mind that heavy downpours don’t soak into the ground as much as a gentle rain. Even though it rained 2″ in one hour, much of that rain didn’t reach the plant roots.
- Check the depth of the soil moisture periodically by sticking your finger several inches into the ground near the plant’s roots. If it’s dry, the plant needs water (even it if rained the day before.)
- Plants under trees don’t get as much rainwater as other plants and may need to be watered while others don’t.
Time Needed for Plant Establishment
- New plants need at least a complete year to establish their roots. Large trees will need even more time. This means watering regularly as the temperatures start to warm early in the spring, through the summer, and until the days get shorter and cooler late in the fall.
- If your plants were installed this year, you’ll also need to water them next spring or longer for a complete growing cycle.
Best Times to Water
- Best times to water are early in the morning and in the evening.
- If you water during the hot, sunny part of the day, some of the water will evaporate before it can be absorbed by the plant’s roots. If that’s the only have time that you have one day, it’s better than not watering at all.
- If you’re like me, I first thought that drought-tolerant plants wouldn’t need to be watered except by Mother Nature. All plants, even drought-tolerant ones, need time to establish their roots.
- During long stretches of hot, dry weather, even drought-tolerant plants may need some additional water after they’re established.
Hand-watering is time consuming the first year. By using drought-tolerant plants in much of your landscape, you may not need to water much in successive years.
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