It’s early May, and gardeners in our area need to pay close attention to the temperatures around this time. Your plants, particularly those that are newly planted, are about to need significantly more water than you’ve needed to give them since last October. No matter how experienced the gardener, anyone can miss this transition to higher temperatures unless they consciously pay attention to the increasing heat.
Here are some important things to keep in mind:
- Sprinklers can’t adequately water newly planted trees and shrubs. A normal sprinkler waters the soil perhaps three to four inches deep unless you leave the water on for an excessive amount of time. This helps a ton, but it isn’t enough to water just the top few inches of a newly planted root ball, so make sure you’re still giving an occasional slow hand-soaking with a water hose.
- Container potting soil shrinks when dry. If one of your containers is very dry when you start to water, soak the pot, move on and do some more watering, then come back to further soak the pot. The peat-based potting soils that most of us use will shrink when dry, and if you don’t first plump up the soil with an initial watering then finish off with a later soaking, you’re going to have your water run down the sides of your container instead of soaking through the root area.
- Mulch is your friend. Finish off every planting bed with a 2″ or greater layer of mulch (of whatever type that will stay in place), and also put a shallow layer of mulch on the tops of your containers. Top off your mulch before we get hot if your mulch has thinned over time.
- Water in the morning. If you can’t water early, water when you can; but plants prefer a good drink to start the day, not a dunking to make up for being very dry all afternoon.