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New Rules For Watering This Summer

To water or not to water in summer is usually quite easy to determine. If we have a dry spring and summer, we have to water. If we have continual rain, we don’t. That’s not the case this summer. We had an extraordinary amount of rain in the spring – several inches above normal. In July, the rain tapered off as the temperature rose. What lies ahead, though, is anybody’s guess.

Established plants do not need watering right now. There is sufficient moisture in the ground. Until recently, some planting beds were downright soggy. Consequently, we don’t have to be as vigilant about making sure our landscapes get at least an inch of water a week, either from rain or irrigation. However, that could change as the summer progresses.

If we continue to “enjoy” Florida weather with its daily showers as we did earlier in the summer, we may never have to water this season. Of course, the weather could turn almost instantly to drought conditions and dry up the soil very quickly. In that case, it’s back to watering.

My recommendation is to let common sense and your plants tell you when they need water. If we do not have rain for a couple of weeks, check your soil. Either put your finger into the soil or use the moisture meter that you use for your house plants to check the amount of moisture in the soil. If leaves begin to wilt and grass begins to burn, that means the plants need water. It is best not to let them go that long, however. Stressed plants are easy targets for insects and diseases.

Containerized plants that live outside are the exception. There is no place for water to accumulate like there is in a planting bed. Excess water just runs out the drain hole. Unless it rains every day or two, you should check your containerized plants to see if the potting mix is dry. If so, it’s time to water.

I suggest using a moisture meter to check your outdoor containerized plants every day or two. While most in-ground plants will be fine without rain or irrigation for a week or two, containerized plants will still need water every day or every other day.

Remember, water is a plant’s lifeblood.

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