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Water Your Plants

watering your plants

We went through a cycle where it seemed to be raining all the time, the wettest twelve-month period ever for our area, if I recall correctly. The continually wet soil resulted in the death of some plants in low-lying areas. The University of Maryland Extension notes that there were many established white oaks lost this year, attributed to root death in water-logged soil. Then Ma Nature slammed on the brakes in mid-summer, and September is going down as a possible record breaker for lack of rain.

We are often dry in August and September. Some years we get a good soaking rain as the remnants of a hurricane or tropical storm move from the Gulf Coast over our area, but that has not happened this year. There was a bit of rain on Monday, with about a quarter inch on the Mall in DC, and less as you went north. Any rain is helpful but it’s literally just a drop in the bucket of what we need.

You can see it in the landscape. Many trees are dropping their leaves earlier than normal. Leaves are hanging listlessly, their vibrant green gone as they develop gray tones or turn golden or brown prematurely. This is not good for your plants. Our cool-season lawns (the ones that stay green in the winter, like most folks have) are adapted to periods of drought and they turn brown.

This is normal, and when rains return they should green up. But your trees, shrubs and perennials really do need water. Especially vulnerable are those plants that were planted this year, and established evergreens. Established plants may not show damage until next spring, when winter kill damage becomes evident, brought on by root death and desiccation of branches due to drought now.

So, we recommend you give your plants a good, thorough watering. Here is a link to an article we published in the past on Proper Watering Techniques.

Larry Hurley, Retired Behnke’s Horticulturist

Larry Hurley, perennials specialist for Behnke Nurseries (now retired), started with Behnke’s in1984. Larry enjoys travel, food and photography. He and his wife Carolyn have visited Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Brazil, South Korea and much of Europe. Their home is on a shady lot where a lot of perennials have met their Maker over the years.

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