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Container Gardening: Crazy Summer Heat Watering

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jaimelemon

jaimelemon
St. Louis, MO
(Zone 6a)

July 25, 2012
7:32 PM

Post #9218832

I have read several recommendations here about deep watering each time. I am container growing several plants who don't like wet feet (namely my citrus and gardenia trees). Does anyone else find it beneficial to give them a sip at the base at the end of the day? It seems to perk everyone up, I just hope I'm not causing root rot and not knowing it.

I edited to add that I am using my moisture meter and the rest of the soil is at or over the suggested level and isn't in need of a drink yet.

This message was edited Jul 25, 2012 8:36 PM
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 25, 2012
9:17 PM

Post #9218941

Many plants will perk up in the evening all on their own when things cool off a bit and the sun is off of them (on a hot day, even if the soil has plenty of moisture in it, the roots sometimes can't take it up fast enough so plants will droop a bit during the heat of the day, but then when the sun's off of them the roots can catch up with the demands of the leaves again so they'll perk up). So the sip you're giving them is quite likely not what's causing them to perk up, and if you continue giving them more water when your moisture meter says the soil is at or above the suggested moisture level then you are risking root rot. Better to let things dry out a bit and then give them a thorough watering.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 25, 2012
9:22 PM

Post #9218944

I should also add that if your plants are regularly drooping on hot days even when the soil's still got plenty of moisture, you may find it beneficial to move the containers to somewhere that they get a little more shade during the heat of the day (or rig up a little shade for them if you can't move them). Keeping plants in a situation where they're drooping every day is just extra stress on the plant and isn't the best thing for them (there's still a lot of summer left!)

jaimelemon

jaimelemon
St. Louis, MO
(Zone 6a)

July 26, 2012
6:10 AM

Post #9219140

Thanks ecrane3!! The only one I have problems with drooping on was my newly arrived variegated Eureka lemon tree. Per the suggestion from the grower, I pruned the constantly drooping ends off and now I haven't seen any droopiness in over a week. I guess I was just trying to say that all my plants' leaves seem to stand at attention better in the evening, lol. I will cut back on the evening sips of water then. Thank you for the advice!

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

July 26, 2012
1:24 PM

Post #9219609

Watering to the point of beyond saturation, so at least 10-20% of the total volume of water applied exits the pot's drain is the best way to water, but the big IF, is, if your soil allows you to water in such a manner w/o risking that the soil will remain saturated too long and become an impairment to root function, or worse, start the root rot ball rolling. IOW, your soil dictates whether or not you CAN water properly.

If you can't water properly, you have to water in smaller sips so there is enough air in the root zone for roots to function normally. When you over-water, it eliminates the plants access to air, which inhibits the plant's ability to move water to the top, so wilting often results. Resist the urge to water if plants wilt while the soil is still damp - it will make things worse. Water when the soil feels dry at the drain hole or when a wooden skewer or chopstick inserted deep into the soil comes out cool/dry, but avoid cutting it too tight. You need to water if that's what it takes to ensure the soil won't dry completely before the next opportunity to water.

As noted, turgidity often returns toward evening when things cool down and respiration slows. The advice to offer the plant some shade, and especially to shade the pot is helpful, as high soil temperatures also inhibit root function, so you could have TWO things working against you if you over-water. A well-aerated and fast draining soil will go a long way toward easing the kind of issue described. The sticky thread at the top of this forum goes into considerable detail about soils for container gardening if you have interest. It's worth the time it takes to familiarize yourself with the content if you're not already familiar with the concept explained.

Al

Al

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