It has been a hot and dry summer in the Pacific Northwest and the region is expected to experience a heatwave this week as temperatures rise 10-15 degrees above normal. It’s important to keep gardens and landscapes hydrated during heatwaves. Here are some tips to keep your garden and landscape plants comfortable:
- Water plants deeply either in the evening or early morning before the high temperatures arrive. Getting water on the leaves can lead to fungal diseases in some plants, like squash, so watering in the morning is ideal.
- Container plants need to be checked frequently as they dry out faster than inground plantings and during a heatwave and they may need to be watered more than once each day. Consider moving container plants into shady areas or set up some shade cloth for the duration of the heatwave,
- Learn what your plants’ watering requirements are and adjust them accordingly. Some prefer almost zero water during summer (i.e., manzanita& madrone) whereas other ones will wilt even when they have water (i.e., hydrangea & rhododendron).
- Visually check for watering needs by using a moisture meter or by simply just watching plants; if they droop, it’s time to water.
- Newly installed plants are among the highest priorities for watering during a heatwave. These plants have not been rooted into the ground completely and are at a greater risk of drying out in the heat.
- Add a layer of mulch around your plants such as compost, aged bark, or woodchips to help maintain soil moisture. Sandy soil will need more frequent watering than clay soil, especially if it isn’t amended with organic matter.
- Make sure to not transplant, prune, or fertilize during a heat wave as these activities are all stressful for plants.
Since heatwaves are occurring more frequently, here are some additional tips that can help prepare your garden and landscape for future heatwaves:
- Grow drought-tolerant plants and try grouping them together; consider xeriscaping a portion or all of yard.
- Use drip systems and soaker hoses for the most efficient watering. They get the water directly to the plant’s roots.
- Stay on top of weeding in the garden as they compete for nutrients and water.
- Amend soil regularly with organic material, like compost, as it will increase the water-holding capacity in any soil type.
- Last but not least, make sure you’re also staying hydrated!