Plants need water to survive, that is a fact. But sometimes watering your garden can feel more like an art than a science. There are lots of tricks that green thumbs use to make sure they are irrigating enough and at the right times. Are the tricks good information or just myths? Don’t be fooled, some of these tricks are just irrigation myths!
Myth 1- Don’t water mid-day because your plants will scorch
Every kid knows that you can focus light through a lens to burn whatever is under the glass. But unlike holding a glass in the afternoon sun, water drops will not cause the leaves they are sitting on to burn. If this were true, every afternoon rainstorm would lead to crop failure. Even though you don’t have to worry about scorched leaves, it is better to water in the morning to reduce evaporation and use drip irrigation to avoid wet leaves becoming mildewed or diseased.
Myth 2- Drought tolerant and native plants don’t need irrigation
All plants need water to survive. Native plants and drought-tolerant plants can usually survive with natural rainfall, once they are established. However, they should be given regular watering during their first one or two years while their root system develops. Dry landscaping may also need some extra water during unusually dry or hot times.
Myth 3 – Your garden needs one inch of water per week
One inch of water seems like a good rule of thumb, but apart from being an impractical way to measure your water use, it is not usually accurate. Your garden will need more water when it’s hot and less when it’s rainy; more when it’s tomatoes and less when it’s rosemary; more when it’s sandy and less when it’s loamy. The best way to know how much water your garden needs is to use a moisture meter or your fingertip, and test the soil at a depth of one to two inches. Don’t go by how the surface looks! Also, infrequent deep soaks with a drying period are better than daily shallow watering. Deep watering will encourage a more extensive root system.
Myth 4 – Adding gravel at the bottom of containers improves drainage
It’s true that gravel drains quickly. However, adding it to the bottom of your potted plants can have the opposite effect. Because the gravel does not absorb water as the soil does, it creates a pool of standing water at the bottom of your pot. Instead of gravel, fill your containers with quality potting soil that is rich in organic matter, and try Smart Pots for excellent drainage and airflow.
Myth 5 – Wilted plants means time to water
The heat of summer is in full swing and you notice some plants are wilting. Time to grab the watering can, right? Well not always. Some plants may wilt to help conserve water. Common plants that wilt are large-leaved plants such as squash and melons. This is a result of a process called transpiration, which will cause a loss of leaf rigidity. Not to worry, this means less surface area and less water loss. The plants will perk up once it cools off at night. Good soil, drip irrigation, and thick mulching are the best solutions for reducing water use, improving drainage, and keeping your garden healthy and happy. So give your plants a good drink, and grow organic for life!