You might be thinking that you wish you would have had this to read before the week’s heat wave, but I can pretty much guarantee this heat wave won’t be the last that we will see here in central NC. Y’all, in case you haven’t been outside, it’s HOT. And if you get hot and dehydrated outside, guess what? So are all of those lovely plants in your garden. Although your plants need water no matter what, they will definitely need some extra attention in the form of watering during these especially hot times. While you may be tempted to stay seated on top of the AC vent with a cool drink in your hand, “for garden’s sake”, take one for the team and go water your plants (see what I did there?). We know you probably have some questions about when to water, how much, and all that…so here ya go:
How much should I water and how often?
When the weather is as hot as it is right now, you really should be watering your lawn every day if you can. However, there are watering restrictions in place for most of the area, so simply water as often as you can. (Wondering about watering restrictions in your community? Check here for Durham, here for Cary and here for Carrboro-Chapel Hill.) A sprinkler system is great for watering, however, if you don’t have one, you will need to water by hand or get a sprinkler you can attach to a hose and move around so that all of your lawn reaps the benefits.
Vegetable and Flower Gardens
Water deeply at least two to three times a week. When we say deeply, that means at least an inch of water every time you water. Not sure how much that is? Place a cup under the sprinkler/hose where you are watering and when it is close to an inch, you should be pretty good. For larger gardens, an irrigation system would be a huge help. To conserve water, you may want to consider a rain barrel. A rain barrel like this one hooks up to a hose and may come in handy when watering your garden.
Your containers need to be watered every day, especially when temperatures are so high. Sometimes you might even have to water in the morning and the late afternoon like we do in our Garden Center. If your containers are in a spot where they get full sun for many hours throughout the day, you might want to consider moving them to a spot that gets only partial sun or covering them with a shade cloth for portions of the day. A shade cloth can be used in your flower gardens and vegetable gardens if needed as well.
When and where do I water?
Hands down, the best time of day to water is early in the morning. Watering during the day can increase risk of disease. If you can’t water early in the morning, water late in the evening, especially before days forecasted to have dangerously high temps.
Water at the base of the plant. While you can’t avoid getting some water on the leaves, avoid pointing your hose or sprinkler system directly at the plant. Watering the leaves can also increase the risk of disease. If you are hose watering, use the “shower” setting. Focus on one plant at a time instead of simulating a rain shower. When/if water starts to puddle, move to another plant and then return back to that plant when puddle has subsided. Think of your soil like a sponge. If you dip a sponge quickly, the edges only retain the water. But dipping multiple times, eventually the sponge (soil) will become saturated.
What else should I know?
Having a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around your plants will help keep water in the ground longer. If you have an especially large area (1,000 sq. ft+) that needs mulching, our landscape team would be happy to set up a consultation and make that happen for you.
Love your mater and mayo sandwiches with a fresh tomato from your garden? Make sure your tomatoes are being water well and consistently. When tomatoes go from being really dry to wet and that cycle is repeated, they are more like to get disease and to crack. And no one wants those ugly crack in their beloved tomatoes.
Many of your plants will have droopy leaves in the heat of the day. If you are watering, and finding that the leaves are the plant are still droopy in the morning, that means you are not watering enough or you are watering too much. Check the soil around those plants. If the soil is moist, you are probably giving the plant too much water. If the soil is dry, you are probably not giving it enough water.
Hopefully, you will keep all your lovely plants alive during these heat spells. But if the worst were to happen and your plants die, come and see us. We still have many beautiful plants that would love to make their forever home in your garden.