Plant Material in the Heat of Summer

oak groveWe are in the middle of the heat and humidity of the summertime and we have several weeks until the temperatures are cooler. While we can duck in doors and enjoy the comforts of air conditioning and a tall glass of lemonade, unfortunately our landscapes cannot. With plant material out in the heat, the logical idea is to give the plant material more water, so the landscape doesn’t dry out. You will find that a great deal of plant material will still dry out when watered daily. How does this happen and how can you control this from happening?

Simply put, deep root growth is a good horticultural technique that helps plant material stand up to summer heat and lack of water. After new plant material has established roots, you need to encourage deep root growth by training the plant material months before the hot weather arrives. Begin this process by deeply watering plant material fewer days throughout the year for longer periods of time. This allows for the water to penetrate down deep into the soil. Watering every 2-4 days allows the soil to start drying at the surface and signals the roots to grow downward in search of moisture.

When plant material is watered daily, the roots will grow shallow because the water is readily available at the surface. Shallow rooted plant material will dry out quicker in the heat of summer than deeply rooted plant material.

Training your roots to grow deep is a process and the roots cannot be trained over night or in a limited time. You cannot just start to cut back on watering. You will need to slowly train the roots so they grow down for water. Remember that water penetration is determined by the soil type so know your soil type and/or check it for absorption. If your soil doesn’t absorb well, instead of watering for longer periods of time you can break up the time up into 2-3 intervals to allow for absorption. For example, if you water for 30 minutes in an area and the soil isn’t absorbing well, break it up to 3 cycles of 10 minutes each.

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