Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fall Watering

After a too-wet spring, we're now in a too-dry period in our neighborhood. (I say "in our neighborhood" because other neighborhoods have had rain that we did not get in the last month.) Although the temperatures have cooled a bit, it's easy for plants to get too dry, especially if they were planted in the spring. 

Take this poor dogwood that I spotted while walking the dog this morning. I noticed a few days ago that it was looking limp, and this is what is looked like this morning--a severe case of drought stress. I wonder whether this poor guy is going to make it, even if the owner starts watering it.

Seeing how quickly this tree deteriorated reminded me to check my own recently-planted trees for signs of drought stress. While I didn't plant any trees this spring, I did plant one last fall, and it takes more than one year for trees to develop a good root system. Although I don't water them quite as much in the second year, I consider them to be "newly-planted" trees until they have been in the ground for at least two full years.

This is what my own kousa dogwood looked like when I checked it this morning. These brown spots on the leaves are probably a combination of drought stress and leaf scorch. Shortly after we planted this tree, the next door neighbor took out a large maple tree, which resulted in a period of afternoon sun. The extra heat and sun means that this dogwood needs more water than it otherwise would. I put out a dripping hose and gave it a long, slow watering.

Last fall I planted a red Japanese maple in this same general area of the garden. It is in a somewhat shadier location so sun scald is not as much of a problem. I've kept an eye on it during the dry spells and it is faring well. You can see a little drought stress on the very tips of the leaves. It got a good soaking today, too.

The weatherman is calling for a chance of rain early next week, but if your garden is like mine, some plants, even some already-established plants, are thirsty. And don't let those cooler temperatures in the forecast lull you into thinking that coolness equals moisture. As long as it is dry, watering continues to be important for some plants, even into fall.

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