Since the weather in DC went from spring to unbearable in a few short days, watering has been a topic of discussion in my gardening circles.  Here’s a few tips on good watering practices:

  • Trees need 25 gallons/week and newly planted trees are more vulnerable to heat stress. Twenty five gals = about 1.5 inches of rain so if the rainfall in a given week is 1.5 or greater, no need to water.
  • Newly planted/transplanted vegetables and flowers also need good soakings. One deep watering is worth 2-3 surface waterings – you want the roots to go deep. Surface watering (where only the top soil get wet) means the roots stay near the source of water (surface) and are more vulnerable to the elements. Plants need water to take up nutrients and the deeper the water goes, the greater the plant’s ability to take in nutrients.
  • During the heat of the day, you might see plant leaves curled – this is especially true for plants with large leaves that lose more moisture due to transpiration (plant equivalent of perspiration). Often times they’ll revive when the sun goes down – check the soil moisture before watering.
  •  Spraying water on plants (especially tomatoes) can increase the likelihood of disease, in particular diseases that are spore-borne. Water the soil, not the plants. Set your hose to a gentle trickle and go smell the roses.
  • While you don’t want to stress your plants, vegetables and fruit are sweeter if they aren’t over watered. Too much watering often leads to large tasteless fruit.

If I had to prioritize watering –  trees come first followed by perennials followed by annuals (including vegetables).

Any other tips on helping your plants survive summer’s heat?

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