Contributed by Christie Dustman
Summer’s wonderful sunny weather is here in full force and we humans love it! But our plants experience summer differently. The Boston area is entering a drought ……… and this follows a winter and spring of low moisture.
While it occurs to many of us to water the perennials we have, few of us think about our shrubs and trees. Perennials and perhaps the temperamental Blue Mophead Hydrangeas wilt more easily, triggering our compassion. More established shrubs and trees, on the other hand, are stalwart in the face of lack of water though at a more severe point may lose inner leaves or show fall colors out of season. Much like we think to pack water for our kids, we may forget our adult water bottles at home.
True confession: Every day when I get home, I pull out my hose and get to work on systematically watering my shrubs and trees. Dinner and the dog can wait. I start in the back left corner and work around my garden 360 degrees.
I recommend deep watering for large shrubs (3’ tall+), evergreens (hedges too!), and trees (smaller and large canopy trees) to get moisture down into the top 18” of soil where the majority of water-absorbing roots are found. The ideal method is the slow-soak method – put your hose at the base of the plant and turn on a low trickle from your hose for ½ -1 hour per plant. For a large shade tree, water on both sides of the trunk, so 2 hours total. The goal is for the water to seep into the ground and not run off. Keep track with a kitchen timer so you don’t forget and leave the hose running.
I will be deep watering my larger plants once per week until the natural rainfall comes back – most likely into the fall – and encourage you to do the same. Check out the links below from our friends at the UMass Extension Landscape, Nursery & Urban Forestry and feel free to email me if you have specific questions!