When the well is dry, we know the worth of water. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
This is my test year. I have not watered my established gardens or plants which have been in my yard more than 3 years. I have mainly focused on watering the plants I installed this year. We’ll see what happens. Water is necessary for the critical plant process called photosynthesis. Without water, plants have less energy to grow, flower, seed, etc. On top of that, we had an early spring with 85 degree temps. in March, record high temps in June, plus many dry, windy days. Because of out crazy weather, I am noticing my native plants are blooming for shorter periods, are shorter in height and are blooming much,much earlier. My hazelnuts already have nuts and my asters are blooming in June! I have seen Big Bluestem blooming in mid-June in other gardens! Tour my garden during the Wild Ones Greater DuPage Yard tour and Picnic on July 22, and learn from the drought like I am. It should be interesting!
Check you soil with your finger at the first sign of wilt, and water newly installed plants deeply (soil should be moist 2″ deep) if the soil is dry. Chances are the rate of plant transpiration is faster than the rate of water absorption due to the hot, dry weather. Add wind to the picture, and water is evaporating even faster.
- Water early mornings preferably.
- If you installed plants the past few years, they may need some water during this severe weather period because their root systems aren’t as deep as native plants that have been in the ground many years. They may also need a little more watering if they are near established plants, such as tree and shrubs.
- Make sure all downspouts and sump-pumps are directed into gardens or rain barrels, insteading of run-of down a storm drain. Treat water as a precious resource, especially now.
- I heard a talk in which a person recycled de-humidifier, A/C or extra shower water in a bucket, for plants. I haven’t tried this yet, but might be a source for extra water, especially during this drought.
- Allow established native perennials and lawns to go dormant. Cut back dormant perennials leaves if desired if they start to look a little ratty. I remember I planted the native Blue Lobelia in my Rain garden in 2004, and we had a drought in 2005. I thought I lost them, but during the moist years of 2011, 2010, 2009 they actually re-appeared. Amazing!
- Leave clean water out for wildlife. Change often.
- Allow wildlife to seek shelter or cover in the shade, with minimal disturbance to keep cool. Add rocks or log piles for even more shelter or cover. See my blog article: Dead Wood and Rocks for more information.
- Mulch around trees and shrubs with leaves, your compost, or locally recycled wood chips, taking care not to cover stems or bark with mulch.
- Stay cool and hydrated yourself. It’s easy to get heat exhaustion in this kind of weather. Remember our pets don’t sweat as efficiently as humans, so don’t keep them outside for long periods.
- Set up additional rain barrels to capture what little rainfall we have.
- If your plants are being de-foliated by Japanese Beetles this summer, bump the beetles off the plants into soapy water as soon as they first appear in your garden (early morning is best because they are more lethargic). Plants are stressed so they are more susceptible to disease and pests. Your native plants will recover and beneficials will keep them in check, so don’t worry.
- Pray for rain or do the rain dance, and for cooler temperatures !