Watering new Trees, Shrubs and Perennials!
One of gardening’s biggest challenges is knowing when and how to water your trees, shrubs and perennials. Proper watering practices in the first growing season will help your plant become healthy and self-sufficient in the long run. Here are some key principals for proper watering.
When you first bring your tree, shrub or perennial home:
- Keep the plant moist in the pot until you’re ready to plant it. Never plant dry plants.
- When planting, backfill the hole with a soil/compost mixture halfway up the root ball. Flood the hole with water. When the water has been absorbed, finish filling the hole with the soil/compost mixture and water heavily again. Build a water basin around your new plant by mounding leftover soil in a ring just outside the dripline of the plant. This will help hold the water where you need it most.
- Apply a 2-3” layer of mulch to help retain moisture and eliminate weeds that will compete for water and nutrients.
One of our most frequently asked questions is “How often should I water my plant once it’s planted?” The answer is simple yet complex… “When your plant needs it.”
Now that your plant is in the ground:
- Throughout the week root your fingers into the soil around the root ball. If you can feel that the soil has some moisture and the plant is not wilting, then you can wait a little longer before watering. If you can feel that the soil around the root ball is dry, give you plant a thorough drink. On average you will probably be watering 2-3 times a week.
- Plant type, sun exposure, soil conditions and weather will all determine how often a plant will need to be watered.
- Water the root zone of your plant deeply and slowly to prevent run off.
- Don’t keep your plants waterlogged. Over watering can be detrimental to your plant’s health. Roots need air just as much as they need water and letting your plant dry slightly between watering’s is beneficial.
- Shallow/frequent watering creates lazy roots that stay at the upper surface of the soil. Watering deeply and then allowing the plant to dry slightly between watering’s will force roots to grow deeper into the soil to find moisture. These plants become better established in the long run.
- In the second year and beyond plants will become more self-sufficient. Still keep a close eye on your plants and check the soil for moisture. Water thoroughly each week if 1” of rain has not been received. Keep in mind if rain fell quickly and was mostly runoff or if it was a good soaking rain.
Other tips for success:
- Keep foliage dry to prevent disease.
- Drought tolerant plants are not drought tolerant until they are established.
- Plants need more water when they are actively growing (late spring and summer).
- Evergreens like rhododendrons, holly and arborvitae benefit from fall watering so they go into the winter hydrated.