Darrell Blackwelder: It’s important to keep plants and shrubs watered

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 8, 2024

It seems like with all the recent showers, the last concern is watering shrubs and flowers. But, with warmer temperatures on the way, it’s very important to irrigate trees and shrubs, especially with recently planted materials. It’s very critical not to over-water newly planted trees, shrubs and flowers. Some get overly concerned with hot weather and irrigate them every day, Unfortunately, this creates greater problems with root fungal and bacterial diseases. It’s important to check the soil moisture before irrigation to prevent problems from overwatering. Large, leafed landscape plant materials such as hydrangeas easily wilt on sunny, hot days regardless of soil moisture. A good rule of thumb is to observe these wilted plants and shrubs early in the morning. If the shrubs are still wilted in the cool of the morning, then irrigation may be necessary. The same situation applies to container plantings. Large container plantings, baskets, raised beds, etc. lose water quickly and it’s often necessary to irrigate daily or even two times a day in extremely hot weather and sunny locations. It’s best to water early in the morning or late afternoon as moisture evaporates during hot weather.

Adding mulch conserves moisture, reduces water consumption and enriches the soil. Three to six inches of course mulch such as pine bark, pine needles, ground bark, etc. will reduce evaporation, cool the soil and aid in deterring weeds.

I’ve spoken to a few gardeners that often rely on weather reports for their irrigation practices. Obviously, weather reports can be quite inconsistent. Be sure your newly planted flowers and shrubs have ample amounts of water.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.

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