I don’t really want to start this blog off by whining, but I will. Man do we need some rain! There are no secret tricks to offer right now to keep your garden and lawns surviving through the rest of the summer if we don’t get some rain soon. You will just need to make the most of the times you water while watering as efficiently as you can. This blog is a quick reminder for the best ways we can tell you to water your plants and to encourage you that fall is a few months away.
Tips for Watering Plants Through San Antonio Summers
While we normally tell you morning watering is the best (and it still is), it’s not always feasible. People have work to get to and other commitments that don’t always allow for a leisurely plant watering schedule in the morning. If your peepers won’t open up any earlier to allow for morning watering, watering in the evening is ok.
It’s so hot and dry right now that it’s unlikely fungal issues will develop overnight because the current heat of summer evenings dries moisture out quick enough. If you can’t water in the morning, water in the evening; just water!
If you have plants in pots that continuously gasp for water every single day, consider moving them to a shadier area (especially afternoon shade) for a few days a week even if they are full sun plants. ANY reprieve plants can get right now is a chance to be revived.
In addition to moving potted plants to a shadier area if your plants are constantly gasping, check their rootballs. When plants’ roots are all wound up, they’ve outgrown their pots and have used up the soil that they were potted in. Water will just flow straight through the top of the plant and out the pot, leaving little water for your plant to take in.
In the morning, or on a cloudy day, or under shelter, work on repotting your plants. Gently massage the rootball to loosen up roots (maybe even snipping a few cuts at the bottom) and bump up to a larger container with fresh soil.
We can’t stress enough the importance of watering around the roots of your plants right now. It’s a total waste to use any type of overhead watering devices. Water evaporates quickly in this heat and most plants pull water in through their root system as opposed to their foliage (though there are some minor exceptions).
While you may not want to get out in the heat to install a drip irrigation system right now, you might want to consider doing it in the future. Slow, deep watering is the golden rule. Blasting water around the roots is not the answer. You’ll end up displacing soil or mulch and risk exposing the root system or end up splashing soil borne diseases up on the foliage of your plants.
Again, make the most of your watering and plan to spend some time whether in the morning or evening to really soak those plants. Bet you’ll see a difference in how they look the very next day.
If you haven’t tried mulching your plants yet, WHY NOT? Sorry for the yelling, but this is a VERY easy way to help retain soil moisture in the soil AND slightly cool soil temps, both of which ease stress on the root systems (the life foundation) of your plants.
Make the most of your watering! Any type of mulch will give your plants some protection, but I’m partial to organic mulches like pine bark mulch that will slowly break down and add some nutrients into your soil, improving it in the long run.
Lastly, when this summer is over, take a GOOD inventory of what plants not only survived, but survived without breaking the bank over your water bill. This could mean you decide to replace some of your water guzzling turf with SAWS approved plants using their WaterSaving Landscape Coupon program, or some drought tolerant groundcovers.
Or it could mean making plans to plant in fall (the best time of the year to plant in San Antonio) so that your plants have a better chance at making it through their first summer. Or it could mean trying more native plants so a drought like we are experiencing is not as devastating to the totality of your landscape.
Should we pick a date and time to all run out and do a little rain dance? I’m up for it. Make the most of your watering! Hang in there, friends. This too shall pass.
~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy