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When and How Much Should I be Watering my Plants?

Formal Garden
Tulips and Boxwood Formal Garden

When and how much should I be watering my Plants?
That can be a tough landscape question. Hard to know sometimes, and there is not always a right answer. Varied factors need to be considered. Does the plant require moist or dry conditions? Has it rained or been dry and windy? How long has the plant been established? Confusing, under-watering can look like over-watering. Leaves wilt, wrinkle and turn brown. But, when plants are under-watered, the leaves are dry and crispy. When over-watered, the leaves are soft and loose. Over-watering will eventually lead to root rot and plant death.
The best test for watering needs is to regularly check the soil for moisture. The easiest test is to insert your index finger into the soil near the roots. Put your finger 2″  into the soil. If soil seems damp and moist, should be fine. Check it again the next days. If  soil is dry then water. For trees or larger plant material, check for moisture with a sample using a soil probe. Insert the probe as far as you can into the soil, twist and remove the ‘plug’. Check the soil moisture profile and water accordingly.
Always water deeply at ground level to avoid getting  water on the leaves and flowers. Water deeply and less often. Get that moisture deep into the soil so the roots go searching for it. That builds better plant roots more able to withstand drought. Always best is best to water in the early morning. This lets the water dry off any leaves, lets it soak in and doesn’t leave moist soil overnight when bacteria may grow.
General Watering Instructions
Annuals planted in the ground
Annual flowers are shallow rooted plants. You will need to water more often, every two or three days in hot summer.  It is especially important to water early in the morning to let the plant dry before sun hits the flowers.
Annuals In Pots Of Baskets
These plants also have shallow roots and need more readily available water. Container plants need more frequent watering since the soil is lightweight and there is not a whole lot. Watering is best every day to every other day. If hot and windy , you should check them twice a day because they can dry out quickly. On hanging baskets, you can lift them from the bottom to ‘weigh’. That will give you a good idea of how well watered the plants are by how heavy the pot is.
Annuals
Water annuals around the base, even flooding the bed. Try to avoid overhead watering.  Overhead spray watering could damage flowers and foliage. Use a moisture retaining fertilizer to help keep soil moist. Annuals generally prefer to be on the more watered side as they are a more fleshy and herbaceous plant.
Perennials
Perennial gardens need about 1″-2″ of water a week. That depends on the types of perennials. Native and drought tolerant perennials can go with much less water. IN fact, many perennials prefer dry conditions. Make sure and design your perennial garden with the plants watering needs in mind. A lavender plant that likes it dry would not be happy by a ligularia that likes it wet.
Trees And Shrubs
You will absolutely need to regularly deep water your new shrubs and trees for the first year after planting. This means at least once a week setting the hose on a trickle and letting the ground get deep soaked. Set the hose near the base of the plant and leave it on a slow trickle for about 1 to 3 hours. A drip hose or drip irrigation system can take the place where the new planting is more extensive than can be managed with a hose. Water deeply and less frequently. Watch out for the Autumn mentality when people think plants don’t need water because it is cooler. Autumn can be the driest time of year and w2e see more plants die of neglect in the Autumn than any other time.

Watering your new landscape plantings is an art. It requires getting your hands into the soil to check soil moisture. It requires getting to know your plants and the signs of thirst – wilting and dry leaves. For Allentown Landscaping and Lehigh Valley Landscaping, each summer brings a new weather pattern. What worked for watering your landscape plants last year, may not work next year. Get to know your plants up close and personal.