Watering in extreme heat can be tricky.  One minute your plants look great and the next minute they’re drooping.  Going from one extreme to the other is very stressful on plants and could lead to their demise.  Let’s look at some hot weather watering strategies that will keep your plants happy.

First we need to distinguish between plants grown in the ground and those in containers.  Always think of the environment a plant is growing in when you’re thinking of their care, any care.

For those plants grown in the ground there are some considerations we need to think about.  First what type of plants are they?   Second, are they newly planted or established? 

Annuals and vegetables are going to require more water.  One thing to keep in mind is that just because a plant is wilting doesn’t necessarily mean it needs water.  An over-watered plant will also wilt because of a compromised root system.  Wilting can also just be a natural reaction from the plant when it loses water faster than it can take it up.  What we need to strive for is to mimic rain.  It doesn’t rain a little every day; it rains about ½-1inch of water once a week.  The goal is to water deeply and less often.  I recommend applying ½-¾ inch of water every 3 to 4 days on annuals.  This should be plenty.

 Vegetables are a little different.  Leafy vegetables don’t require as much as those that fruit.  Water leafy ones like you would annuals.  Fruiting plants (tomatoes, peppers, etc.) require more water and should be watered every 2-3 days.  They simply use more water because of the fruit.

Perennials on the other hand actually like it a little bit on the drier side.  Newly planted ones should receive that ½ to 1 inch of water once a week and maybe every 5 to 6 days in really hot weather.  Established perennials should be fine unless we really get into a long drought.  Water them every 1-2 weeks with 1 inch of water depending on heat and length of drought.

Roses, trees and shrubs can be treated the same.  Newly planted ones should be watered every 4-5 days whether there is heat and drought or not.  If it does rain, count it as one watering.  They need that moisture to establish correctly.  When watering apply 5-10 gallons, yes gallons, of water to roses and 20-30 gallons for trees and shrubs.  This is best done with a hose on a slow trickle.  Typically 5 minutes on each side of a rose and 20-30 minutes on each side of a tree and shrub.  Established plants only require water every 2-3 weeks if we experience drought, not heat.  Big leafed shrubs may wilt during really hot weather but don’t jump the gun with the water.  Like I said above, it may just be that it can’t take the water up quickly enough.

Now, what about container plants?  Early in the season, when plants are young and its cooler, a container may only need watering every 2-3 days.  As the heat increases and the plants get bigger, watering increases. I water daily in normal summer heat and sometimes twice a day in really hot times.  Again, I also check the soil and weight of my pots first to avoid over-watering. 

Get to know your plants and their environment before you start watering during the heat.  Check the soil first for signs of moisture and then use the guidelines above if needed.  Proper watering ensures healthy plants. 

Happy Gardening!