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WATERING SHRUBS

Once your landscape planting has been completed, proper watering becomes the most important part of plant survival and appearance. Transplanting causes a certain amount of shock to a plant, due to the loss of roots, transportation and handling, and a change in growing conditions.

Large watering can

In order to help plants through their critical first year, it is important to understand a little about the soil in this area. While some regions contain sandy soils that drain very quickly, S.W. Pennsylvania soil is made up of a high percentage of clay (finer soil particles). Clay soil tends to drain very slowly, and this is especially true in new developments where bulldozers and heavy equipment have compacted the soil.

 

When you consider the combination of clay soil and the ample amount of rainfall we normally get, it seems as though watering shouldn't be necessary. While this is usually true of well established plants, transplants are very dependent on regular waterings. Plants grown in plastic containers have a fast-draining soil mix, and are put under additional stress when circling roots are sliced at planting time. Also, balled and burlapped (B&B) trees lose a large portion of their roots when they are dug at the nursery.
  

What is the best method for watering new plants?

Water plants thoroughly when natural rainfall is less than one inch per week. To check the weekly amount of rainfall, you can buy a rain gauge or use something as basic as a coffee can. Also, the Sunday newspaper lists the precipitation measured by the National Weather Service in Moon Township, but keep in mind that rainfall can vary greatly 10 or 20 miles to the north or south of your location.

How often should you water?

When watering becomes necessary, plants should be thoroughly soaked once a week. Apply water slowly and repeatedly to allow time for it to soak into the ground. (If the weather has been dry, and you are watering once a week, it is difficult to give plants too much water).

Exceptions to the rule

*Occasionally you'll plant trees in very hard compacted clay, usually in new neighborhoods or townhouse developments. In this case, we recommend that watering intervals be extended to once every two weeks for large trees, since these planting holes can act like "bathtubs" the way they hold water for long periods of time.
  

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Shrub watering summary
  • If there is less than one inch of rainfall per week, water plants thoroughly once a week*.
      
  • Apply water slowly and repeatedly to allow it to soak in.
      
  • Morning is the best time of day to water plants. When plant foliage remains wet overnight, it provides an ideal environment for fungus diseases.
      
  • Watch plants for wilting and other signs of water stress. (Misting the foliage with a fine spray helps revive wilted plants)
      
  • Remember: Plants need more water when they are actively growing (spring and summer), than when they are dormant (fall and winter).

   More shrub pages:

 

   

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