When you’re thirsty you reach for a glass of water. You get hot, you can move to the shade. Your plants, on the other hand, can’t walk to a cooler spot and need to rely on rain or for you to turn on the sprinklers to drink up. So how can you assure your plants keep healthy and hydrated and not turn yellow or, even worse, defoliate before the summer comes? Well remember, it’s about meeting your plant’s water needs as the weather changes and at the right time. The short answer to meet those needs is an irrigation system and there are many options beyond that to attain the same results.
Water is precious for your plants and important to manage for your pocket book. You don’t have to flood the yard and street to give your plants the what they need. You can still have a beautiful garden without a giant water bill.
Understanding Your Plants Hydration Needs
When a plant’s roots get dry they stop growing and go into stress mode.
- You can see stress modes existing when the plant leaves look slightly wilted or the color of the leaf changes to a darker color.
When a plant is in stress mode it sacrifices blooms and new foliage to preserve the existing plant.
Plants water demand increases when:
- The temperature increases more than 10 degrees over the previous day.
- It’s windy or breezy and no rain.
- When they are planted next to a wall that reflects sunlight and heat.
- If they are planted in a pot and exposed to the elements of heat and wind.
- They are planted in an exposed windy area, such as on top of a hill or corner.
Plants in a pot need more frequent water than plants in-ground.
- If any of these conditions are true for your garden, then you need to give a quick check to how the plants are doing and get them a drink of water. If they are wilting in the middle of the day, waiting until the end of the day to water is too late. When they are wilting, the roots are already dry. Get water to the plants immediately; otherwise, you could be looking at some stressed yellow plants later.
How to Save Money When Watering
Now that you know these essentials of what demands your plants endure when they don’t have water, you can meet the needs of your plants by addressing how much water they need. Water management is important too. Too much water and you can kill your plants and you could have a not so friendly water bill. That could make you frustrated and potentially broke. Not a good combination.
So here are a few things to review on knowing how to water so you have the best of both worlds, living beautiful plants and money in your pocket.
Watering in the early morning is best for all plants.
- They have time to drink up before the sun and heat comes and are best suited for the day.
When new plants are planted make sure the water is getting to the roots.
- A light sprinkling of water on the surface from a sprinkler 10 feet away is not enough.
- Get water into the root zone so the roots can grow outwards (hand watering may be necessary)
- Once the roots grow out after 2-3 weeks then a broader area of watering will work.
Established plants need less water then you may think.
- With a developed root system, your plant is likely to absorb every drop of water put down which is great because it’s super-efficient.
- Water planter beds once a week and a supplemental watering during the week. (A usually soaking is 10-15 minutes duration and supplemental watering is 3-6 minutes.)
- This may not work though if the planter bed is in an exposed all day sunny location and exposed to wind. These two situations may cause you to water every other day and you will need to try out what works best.
Watering lawns for more than 10 minutes is too much.
- The water will run off the lawn and is wasteful when you are watering 10 mins or more
- Keep your irrigation timer set between at 5-10 minute duration
- Increase your frequency of watering in hot weather
- Instead of one time per day at 20 minutes, change it to 3 times per day at 7 minutes (this reduces run-off and increases hydration)
Keeping plants hydrated and learning when they need it and how they need it will save you money and give you the profound feeling you can grow most anything. Keeping our water resource managed well and not wasting it will also culture your sense of stewardship and that is a good thing!