Summer is upon us and we all need to pay special attention to how we water our plants now and throughout the summer season. It is especially important to check plants being grown in pots and containers. They have a tendency to dry out faster during the hot dry weather and will need to be watered more frequently. Plants in smaller pots dry out faster because of the smaller volume of soil they are planted in. Check your potted plants daily for watering needs.
There are two ways to check for watering needs. The most common is to stick your finger down into the soil at least a couple of inches to check the moisture level. If the soil feels moist, no water will be needed. If the soil feels dry, water thoroughly until water runs out of the bottom drainage hole. The other way is to feel the weight of the container. Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon. You can feel the weight difference in a watered container and its dryer counterpart. This works best with smaller, light weight containers.
It is best to water early in the day so that the plants will have the moisture they need available to them during the day. Do not water late in the day or at night. This will cause the soil to stay wet during the night and can lead to fungal disease and rotting off. Also when possible, avoid getting the leaves wet, this can also spread diseases.
For newly planted shrubs and trees, make sure they are being deep-watered every 2 to 3 days during periods of no rain. A soaker hose is an excellent way to do this, or just turn your garden hose on very low and allow it to run water out very slowly around the trees and shrubs for a long period of time. Continue to do this through the summer as the plants are developing roots in their new beds. A layer of mulch 3" to 4" thick around newly planted shrubs and trees will help maintain the moisture level of the soil and keep the roots cool. If the soil becomes too hot, it can affect plant health.
The main thing to remember about watering is not to forget! If plants are allowed to dry out too much, even just for a short amount of time, they can suffer irreparable damage. Always check them daily and water as needed.