What – it’s time to start watering plants?

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Well, here we are, in the high heat of summer — wait, summer is just beginning, and we are in a hot stretch. I am afraid that I must encourage you to water plants like I normally do in August.

And, if you are a regular reader of this column, you know in the past that when I wrote a column about the need to water plants, it invariably rained. However, as I write this on Wednesday, there is little to no rain in the forecast. Get those hoses out.

You don’t have to water everything in the landscape, unless of course, you want to! Focus on the following to keep plants healthy and alive.

First, if you have a vegetable garden, this should be a priority now. Keep the soil moist as much as possible. Use mulch (straw, grass clippings, etc.) to help hold in the moisture and to keep weeds down as much as possible.

It’s important to keep vegetable plants evenly moist. Blossom end rot is a problem that is caused by either too dry or too wet soil. We have plenty of calcium in the soil; adding calcium is not going to help.

Blossom end rot occurs at bloom time if the soil conditions are such that the calcium is not able to be absorbed by the roots. The flower end of the tomato ends up black and rotted. Even soil moisture prevents this.

It’s a lot easier during dry spells to control blossom end rot than it is when it constantly rains. An inch of water a week or a thorough deep soaking helps to prevent this abiotic (non-living) disease.

In addition, if tomatoes and other vegetables are dry and we get a good soaking rain or you irrigate, the fruits tend to crack. In other words, they take on water so quickly that the skin can grow fast enough to keep us, thus the cracking. It is kind of like when we eat too much and must loosen the belt!

Annual flowers also need extra attention if you want to keep them lush and growing. Again, a good soaking is preferred over a small amount of water every day. I set my sprinkler on them for at least four or five hours until the soil is saturated down about four inches.

Any container gardens that you might have need watered daily and sometimes, twice a day. Smaller hanging baskets or containers dry out quicker than larger ones so you may have to hit them more often. Each time you let these plants dry out, the quality decreases.

If you put down grass seed anytime this past spring, you want to keep that new seedbed moist. These plants are tender and will dry out quickly. An inch a week is required for good growth.

Finally, if you have any trees or shrubs that were planted in the last three to five year, consider laying the hose around the base of the plant and turn on a slow trickle. This allows the water to slowly saturate the soil around the roots.

Pamela Corle-Bennett is the state master gardener volunteer coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. Contact her by email at bennett.27@osu.edu.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

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