Watering Plants

By: Jennifer LaMontagne – Horticulturist – Bloch’s Farm – Green Lake, WI

Water is very important to our plants, just as it is for us. Plants require water in order to grow and to bloom. Knowing when to water is key to healthy plants. Trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals will let you know when they are thirsty. You just need to learn their language and know how much water your plants need because each plant is different.

If your plants are looking sad, droopy, sick, or stressed out, it’s a good bet that watering will help. Signs for a possible water stressed plant are: droopiness, unnatural curling, dull looking, pointier than usual, or even appearing a slightly different shade of green than usual. If you notice your plant is starting to turn brown, that could be a sign that it has been water stressed for quite some time. Also watch for the premature drop of flowers or blossoms and premature fall color. These are signs that the plants are struggling to stay alive. 

Keep in mind that some of these symptoms listed previously could be signs of other problems going on with the plant, as well. For example, droopy and yellow leaves could also be signs of too much watering. A great way to tell if the symptoms are indicating a lack of water for your annuals and perennials is to stick your finger into the soil about 1-3 inches down. For a tree or shrub you will want to dig down 4-6 inches. If the soil is nice and moist underneath, you don’t need to water yet.

Many trees and shrubs such as birches and cottonwoods will purposely drop many of their leaves in an effort to keep the remaining leaves alive until moisture arrives. So if your trees have a lot of yellow looking leaves it means they may be preparing to drop. Watering at this point will save the tree but the yellow leaves will probably still fall off. Not to worry, the plant will soon push out new leaves.

During periods of dry summer heat, most trees and shrubs benefit from receiving 1 to 2 inches of water every week. Water-loving trees such as willows, elms, birches, alders, poplars, and certain fruit trees may need at least 3 inches of water per week when temperatures climb above 90 degrees. Small shrubs and perennials should receive at least 1 inch of water over their entire root area 2-3 times a week. Newly transplanted plants may need to be watered daily.  

It’s best to apply water in one slow application. A useful tip for measuring water is to place a 1-inch deep can, such as a tuna fish or cat food can, near the drip-line of the plants you are watering. As soon as the can is filled, you have one inch of water. For plants that need 2-3 inches of water, simply empty the can and allow it to refill once or twice more.  

Water early in the morning, before the heat of the day, to minimize evaporation. To ensure more efficient root systems, water thoroughly, making sure the water sinks deep into the roots. Try to avoid watering in the late evening. Without the sun to dry off the leaves, the plants become more susceptible to diseases.  

If you’ve lost some trees, shrubs, or perennials, fall is a great time for replanting. But give plants a chance to green up before you dig them out, because you may be pleasantly surprised!

Bloch’s Farm is open 8 am to 5 pm Monday – Saturday, and 10 am to 4 pm Sunday. We have a huge selection of trees, shrubs, and perennials! Stop in today and our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you! Feel free to call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Don’t forget to visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t miss out on this weekend’s sale! July 9th – July 11th: Buy 3 or More Shrubs, Receive 20% Off!

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