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Garden Guru:Watering flowers and plants in hot weather

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Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- Garden Guru Emilio "Elmo" Telles

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- Garden Guru Emilio "Elmo" Telles

Occasionally, when the temps hit the high ones, my customers will ask why I am watering at Armstrong nursery when it is kind of hot and during the middle of the day. They quote various stories/articles about NOT to water at that time of day.

Well, here’s the deal. In a retail nursery the smaller containers(6-pack color, 4-inch pots and 1-gallon containers dry out quicker than plants that are in home gardens. For those at home gardens, I suggest our best selling items are a premium potting soil (for containers) and a premium compost ( for the ground), which are made to hold moisture in while still allowing adequate drainage. Believe me proper soil maintenance is the key for less watering even during the heat.

Back to the question about watering during the heat of the day. It is one of those–“Damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t” situations. At home, I’ve watered during the heat and the plants say “thank you” by perking up.

Still, the ideal time to water is in the mornings, which allows the soil to be moist during the day. If you water at night, the non-beneficial bacteria and fungus that hit the foliage and soils of your plants will love you because of the humidity, water transpiration, and warm night time temps will help spread those problems.

Granted, you might not have the time to water early nor have the convenience of sprinklers. So if you must “roll the dice” and water in the evening when you get home after work, do it as soon as possible.

Here’s the funny part.

I’ve “suggested” to (I don’t use the word “told!”) my wife, just because you feel hot, doesn’t mean the plants are hot as well.

The best thing is to water deep so you know the roots are soaked. If you are watering plants in pots and containers, make sure the water is draining so you know the roots are moist. Also, don’t “shower” the plants. That is a waste of water.

On the other hand, new plantings MIGHT require a second watering later in the day, but use your fingers to feel if the soil is still moist, if so, they should be fine until the next morning.

I think I covered everything, but any questions are welcome.


Emilio “Elmo” Telles is a garden expert at Armstrong Garden Centers 5816 San Fernando Road, Glendale  91202.

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