Thursday, July 16, 2009

Watering goodness

If you are new to gardening, Le Tour des Plants sponsor Dramm has some advice on keeping your plants hydrated during the hot season. (Shameless plug: Dramm offers the most colorful watering tools this side of my dreams. For more information on Dramm products, visit your favorite garden center or browse to

Watering is important since nutrients found naturally in the soil or added supplements are useless unless they are first dissolved in water. Plants can only assimilate nutrients through roots as nutrient dilutions. Wise use of water for gardens and lawns saves money, conserves water and produces optimum growing.
  • Water in the early morning, before sunrise, or in the evening, after sunset, to reduce water lost to evaporation.
  • Minimize water loss from run-off or evaporation by using a hand watering device instead of garden sprinklers.
  • Use a watering can to deliver specific amounts of water to potted plants.
  • If possible, use grey water such as bath water and dishwater for watering plants. As of June 12, rerouting grey water to water plants is now legal in Oregon. Be sure to check with local authorities before re-plumbing anything, though.

Point that watering tool near the soil so the water to goes directly to the soil, instead of on the plant, where it will quickly evaporate from the leaf surfaces. A tool with an activated shut-off valve such as Dramm's Touch N' Flow ensures water is applied only where needed.
  • 90 to 98 percent of plant matter is water. The best way to ensure healthy plants is to provide them with enough water.
  • Water applied in small quantities is more harmful than helpful. Since only the very top layer of soil is moistened plant roots will grow near the surface subjecting the plant to rapid drying and damage. Water in greater quantity with less frequency encourages deep root establishment, which in turn helps a plant be more tolerant of dry spells.
  • Water enough in a single application to moisten the soil deeply. For flowerbeds and vegetable gardens one inch of water a week is recommended.
  • Clay soil is very dense and takes longer to soak up water and longer to dry out. Landscape plants in clay soils can drown if watered by an automatic watering systems. Check a few inches below the soil surface to see if you really need to water. The top may be dry, but it could still be wet down at root level.
  • Applying water at base of plant keeps foliage dry to help prevent fungus disease, such as botrytis and mildew.

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