, Newburyport, MA

June 26, 2013

Plants getting enough water?

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — The hot and humid weather has arrived, and with it comes the challenge of making sure that all of the plants in the garden are receiving enough water to help them survive.

It is always a good idea to water your plants in the morning. Between 6 and 7 a.m. is the ideal time to water. In the morning hours, plants are naturally taking up water to help the plants grow. If you water later in the day, much of the water can evaporate before the water has a chance to get into the soil. If you have a sprinkler system that comes on at, say 3 a.m., your plants will be getting the water they need, but you also then run the risk of having the foliage stay wet. When foliage stays wet during the relatively cool early morning hours, the incidence of fungus diseases raises rapidly. If you can reset the sprinklers to come on at 6 or 7 a.m., your plants will be less likely to develop fungus diseases.

In hot, sunny weather, you will find that you need to water some plants multiple times per day. Plants that are in containers are naturally prone to drying out if they are in sunny locations. This holds very true the later we get into the growing season. As the plants grow, their root systems fill the containers. As a result, there is less space in the soil to just hold extra water. On the hot days, keep an eye on your hanging baskets. They can easily dry out if they are in the sun.

Perennial beds and shrubs will benefit from an application of mulch. The mulch helps hold in moisture and also helps keep the roots cooler. The mulch is spread on top of the soil, but it is never put up against the stem or trunk of the plant. If the mulch is against the stem or trunk of the plant, the moisture in the mulch will eventually rot away the bark of the plant and cause the plant to die.

Insects have been everywhere during the past few weeks. Take some time to check your plants for signs of insect damage, and treat your plants with the proper insecticide. If you spot an insect infestation early on, you have a much better chance of getting it under control before it does major damage to your plants.

With warm days and relatively cooler nights, dew will settle on the leaves of your plants. Evening thundershowers also help keep those leaves wet after sunset. Wet leaves during the evening and nighttime hours are a major factor in plants developing fungus diseases. If you see signs of fungus diseases developing on your plants, you should immediately treat them with an appropriate fungicide. As is the case with insects, early treatment of fungus diseases will prevent major damage to your plants.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.


Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.