It is mid-July, time to catch up on some little things before they slip through the cracks. First and foremost, I want to talk about you and your health. Sure, gardening is fun. It is great to be out of doors weeding and hoeing and even enjoying the flowers. But it is hot. Don’t overdo the exercise and drink water, a lot of it.
After you have seen to yourself, look at your potted plants. Different varieties, plants in different size pots and those with different amounts of foliage will require different amounts of water. The soil in the pot will make a difference, too. When it comes to keeping plants moist, watering all of them the same amount of water at the same time each day, rain or shine, is a recipe for disaster. When you have a plant in a 6-inch pot know what the soil is. With a sandy mix the water will run through quickly when water is applied; some will stick to the granules of sand and to the rootlets. But these plants need more water and they need it more frequently. A heavier soil, one with more loam will retain water and need to be cared for less frequently. And remember that potting in a heavily clay soil could be courting disaster. These soil particles are tiny and hang on to the water for a long time, but when they dry too much they grow very close to each other, making it hard for the rootlets to get to the water.
The amount of foliage is also important, too. Look at an 8’ pot with a couple of large leaved Canna plants or some ferns. Either will have a tremendous leaf surface and the underside of each leaf is covered with tiny pores, we call them stomata, that constantly give off water. Now look at a in the same size pot. The leaves are leathery and more compact and have few stomata to give off water. They will certainly give off and will need far less water than the ferns or Canna plants.
On very hot days, water will evaporate at a greater rate because the pots will get warm and the water will “boil away.” We see this problem a lot with cemetery plantings. Those cement and granite urns heat up all day long and hold the heat late into the evening. The roots die; it is almost like being cooked. So, I guess that what I am trying to say is that like buying clothing, when it comes to watering plants, one size does not fit all. I have some 60 pots of various sizes and varieties of flowers sitting in either sun or shade. I find that the best way to water them properly is to walk through, hose in hand,
and heft each of those pots that are not too heavy to lift and water the lighter ones and leave the rest until the next night. And, when you do water, water thoroughly. Remember that if you start to apply water and it nearly instantly begins running out of the drain hole, chances are that it is so dry that the soil ball has pulled away from the pot sides. It is now necessary to be patient. Water for half a minute and move on to other plants and come back to the dry one. Do it several times until you are sure that the soil ball is thoroughly wet. Yes, proper watering of flowers and vegetables in pots is an everyday chore.
And before I leave the topic of water, we need to talk about hoses and nozzles. Just the other day I sent one of our new ladies into my garden to water plants. When I went out to check on her she had fitted the hose with a spray nozzle and was watering with enough pressure to strip the paint off the house. She was tearing up soil and damaging leaves. Gentle is the term. A water breaker is perfect. A mist setting will not give enough water or take forever to get the job done.