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.
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
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
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.
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
- Remember: Plants
need more water when they are actively growing (spring and summer), than when they are
dormant (fall and winter).