Keeping Your Plants Hydrated and Happy This Summer

By David Yost, Merrifield Plant Specialist

Summer is here! For many of us it’s time to kick back, relax and enjoy time with our families and friends. Whether you’re staying in town this summer or taking a trip, remember that your plants will need some extra care to keep them happy and well hydrated in the summer heat. We’ve got some refresher tips for you just in time for the hottest season of the year!

Check for moisture before watering

Even in the summer heat this golden rule of watering applies. This season, check your larger plants for moisture every 3 to 5 days and your smaller plants every 2 to 3 days. You’ll likely need to check your containers daily.

To test the soil, dig down into the root ball using a hand shovel to a depth of 4” to 5” and feel the soil for moisture. If the soil is moist, replace the soil and check again later. Moist soil will feel somewhat like a damp sponge. If the soil is dry, water the plant and surrounding soil thoroughly. Until the plants are well established—typically one year after planting—you will need to water more frequently and follow this process of checking the soil before watering.

Water deeply to encourage strong root systems

We recommend using a watering wand as it directs water most effectively over the roots and surrounding soil. Watering deeply encourages the plants root systems to grow down into the soil, reaching for the deeper water. And plants with deep root systems withstand drought better, making it easier on your long-term watering needs. Sprinklers, gator bags, and soaker hoses can also be effective when used properly.

Make a watering plan

Once you get a feel for how quickly the soil dries around your plants, you can make a plan and check them on a regular basis. Be aware that you will still need to monitor weather conditions and adjust accordingly. The best time to water is in the morning as this gives plants the opportunity to become fully hydrated before the mid-day heat arrives. Water remaining on the foliage will also dry quickly in the morning sun, reducing the spread of disease. So, mark your calendar and get outside to give your plants some refreshment before the mid-day heat arrives.

Make plans with your neighbors before you leave for vacation

Excited to finally take that vacation you started planning last summer? Enjoy! Just remember to set up a plan with a neighbor or friend to water your plants while you are gone. Provide your phone number in case they have any questions.