Don't give up! Do give water to the weak and the edible
It is hard to keep from crying when the landscape turns crisp
around us and no amount of water is enough to replace what the
plants lose to blistering heat.
So, choose your targets and water wisely.
Do all you can to keep it moist if:
- It's an important tree or shrub that had to replace
much of its foliage this spring after suffering frost
damage (many Japanese maples and mulberries, and a
good number of unluckily situated ginkgoes, katsuras and others).
It already dipped into its reserves to create the replacement
leaves. Now, if it's crown is thin, it's not producing starch in
its customary amount. Let it remain dry and you may see significant
dieback next spring.
- It's a vegetable setting fruit or forming
tubers now. They may be miniscule but that produce is
susceptible to blossom end rot (tomato), fruit drop (apple, peach,
nut crops, etc.) stunting (potatoes), etc.
- It's a plant stressed by other factors, such
as your favorite rose exposed to exhaust vents, or chemical spray
drift when lawn care companies visit. (What in the world are
lawn companies doing, to be continuing with fertilizers and
pesticides on dormant lawns and around vulnerable
Many ways to deliver water
You don't have to water the whole yard or a big area.
Pour a bucket of water slowly over the plant's root zone
Let a hose drip there for an hour or two.
Cover the soil with mulch, if it's bare.
Set a full but leaky bucket or jug firmly onto the
What's Coming Up 151 for details.)
Up-end long necked bottles filled with water to seep into the
root zone. (More in Growing
On the other hand,
don't waste time on terminal cases
If it's in permanent wilt and won't "come to" no matter how much
or when you water, lay it to rest. When plants are severely
stressed, all manner of pathogens and pests home in on the
weaklings' distress signals. Don't make matters worse for the
survivors by allowing a build up of infected or infested
Hydrangea's had it
Right: This plant has had it.
When it has been too often left dry and hot, cool moisture loving
Hydrangea develops a chronic wilt that is likely the root rotting disease called armillaria. When this
happens no amount of water can bring it around. The owner
reportsthe plant has been wilting regularly since before summer
went dry, so it was a goner from the get-go.
Below, right: It probably didn't help the plant when, several
weeks ago, chemicals meant for the lawn drfited onto the leaf.
White residue remains to tell the tale.
Plants should never be
sprayed with pesticides when it is very hot and dry, as most such
solutions have an oil base that can burn foliage under those