August, the month we Oregonians call “the dog days of summer”! Where did that term come from anyway? I may have to research that later. In the meantime, we are experiencing our warmest, dare I say hottest, weather this summer. With temperatures in the 90’s for the next three days, heat-lovers will be celebrating, those who like it cooler will be complaining and running for cover and any businesses with air-conditioning or ice will be very busy. Garland Nursery staff will be watering, watering and watering. We’ll be sure to stay hydrated ourselves, apply sunscreen and avoid overheating.
Here are a few tips to help your plants survive the warmer weather. Watering becomes extremely important in the heat. Anything in containers should be checked at least once a day. Plants in smaller pots or anything that has outgrown it’s container as well as those plants that like it moist may need to be watered twice (and sometimes 3 times) a day. Plants in the ground will vary in their water requirements. Newly planted items should be checked daily. Chances are they will need to be watered daily. Plants in the ground only a year and those that need more water should be checked daily, too. They may not need water every day, but you don’t know unless you check them. If you have an automatic watering system, that’s great, but I would still recommend checking everything during warmer weather. There are a lot of things that can cause an automatic system to not deliver needed water: clogged drippers, broken heads, drippers that fall out of pots, an obstacle that blocks the water, rabbits chewing off drippers, a power failure and more. Even if everything is working perfectly, sometimes plants need an extra long drink during warmer weather. Check for signs of stress: wilting leaves, dry leaves, browning around edges of leaves, cracked, dry soil. The best way to know if a plant needs water is to actually check the soil in the root zone with a trowel or moisture meter at a depth of 6 inches.
Nature is a funny thing. Sometimes overwatering mimics the look of drought stress. Sometimes after several days of hot weather, plants start to conserve moisture and actually need a little less water, although plants in containers should still be checked daily. Gardening is less of a science and more of an interaction with nature. You don’t know what your garden needs unless you go out in it and check. (That could probably apply to any number of things in life.) Speaking of which, I need to go out and check my plants. My husband ran out of time this morning and didn’t water anything. So I’m going to drag out the hose and check everything. Then maybe I’ll find a shady spot and enjoy the flowers.