Summer is definitely here! The days are long and that sun is hot, especially for our newly installed plants. Hopefully, you have been good about watering your new plants during their first few weeks in the ground and it’s important that we don’t forget about them as summer turns hot and the pool calls our name. Our plants still need our attention so that our investment in them doesn’t go to waste. Here are some guidelines that will help you know what your new plantings might need.
Annuals: If you install annual color displays, these plants are usually fast growers and require more water than trees, shrubs, and perennials. Because annuals are short-lived, they don’t invest as much energy in developing roots. Instead, they work hard to produce those big, colorful blooms that we planted them for! If it hasn’t rained, these annuals could need to be watered every day in the heat of the summer. Don’t wait for them to wilt as it can be hard for them to fully recover. To determine if they need water, use your finger to feel if the top 2-3 inches of soil are dry or moist. If it’s dry, it’s time for some water! Annuals will never reach establishment as they only live for one season and are then removed from the landscape.
Perennials: Newly planted perennials will often appear to grow very little in their first year after installation. Unlike annuals, they have a longer life span and spend a great deal of energy developing their roots so that they’re well-equipped to endure drought, temperature extremes, and everything else nature might bring for the years to come. Watering perennials deeply and infrequently, 3-6 inches of water once or twice per week (depending on rainfall and temperature), encourages their roots to grow deeper and better prepares them for future droughts after establishment. We don’t want to spoon feed them too much! Perennials will become established in one year.
Trees and Shrubs: These woody plants follow the same pattern of slow, above-ground growth but establish their roots in their first year or two. Establishment can vary for these trees and shrubs, depending on how large they were at installation. The larger the plant, the longer it will take to establish. Some trees that are very large when installed may take three or more years to become fully established. The rule of thumb is one year of establishment per inch of trunk diameter at planting. Deep and infrequent waterings are ideal for trees, 3-6 inches of water once or twice per week, just like our perennials. Sometimes slow consistent watering systems are used such as gator bags for new trees. These are handy for street trees or other new plantings where a caring property owner is not around to spend time watering, but are not as ideal as deep and infrequent waterings.
Remember, plants become established in the landscape after a period of time, meaning they have developed root systems equipped to take care of themselves, so these guidelines are specifically for your new installations. We’ve also created a guide for how to water your plants the right way so check that out if you’re looking to water plants that aren’t newly installed!
Let us know in the comments if you found this information helpful and what else we can help you learn about all things watering and new plant care!