Saving Plants Through a Drought

Recently I was asked, “How do you garden with these high temperatures and drought conditions?”  For existing gardens suffering under this brutal heat, you can save your plants with the proper watering.  Even if you have watering restrictions you can give them enough to get them through these hot days.

Any plant that is visibly wilting will want a gentle stream of water at its base for several minutes, up to even an hour if needed.   The goal is to soak the ground around and deeply under the plant keeping the roots moist and prompting them to search for water deeper into the ground where they are more likely to find sustaining moisture.

Maintenance watering for large plants and shrubs should be focused at the base of each plant.  Use a hand held sprayer on a “shower” setting that does not disturb the dirt, but allows the water to collect and penetrate into the ground at the base of the plant.  You may need to make repeated applications to insure enough water has made it into the ground.  If you use a sprinkler, leave the water on long enough to soak deeply into the ground.  In either case, if water starts to pool and run off stop the flow, let the water soak in, and turn the water back on for additional watering.

The goal whenever watering is to make sure the ground around and under the root ball of the plant is wet.  Whenever there is uncertainty as to whether enough water has been applied, use a trowel or shovel to gently dig into the soil at least 3-4″ to check if the soil is moist.  If not, you need more water.

Water plants early in the day so the leaves have time to dry.  If you have time restrictions, you can set timers to allow the water to run even when you can’t hold the hose.  If you are limited to certain days for watering, make sure you apply enough water to keep the soil moist during your off days.

These are general techniques.  If you have specific issues, questions, or needs, please leave a comment and I’ll offer any help to your garden I can.  I look forward to hearing from you.


btw – In the next post I will include some specifics on water requirements and application for various situations.

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