Yard and Garden: Watering Plants in the Garden and Landscape

Plants of all kinds need careful watering during Iowa's drought

July 24, 2020, 4:00 pm | Richard Jauron

AMES, Iowa -- Rainfall in portions of Iowa have been well below normal over the last three months. Plants will need to be watered in dry areas to ensure a bountiful vegetable or fruit crop or an attractive landscape. Two important aspects of watering are frequency and timing.
According to Richard Jauron, horticulture specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, most flowers, vegetables and fruits perform best when they receive 1 to 1½ inches of water per week (from either rain or irrigation). A deep watering once a week should be adequate for vegetable, flower and fruit gardens in dry weather.
Plants growing in containers should be checked daily in summer to determine if they need to be watered. If uncertain about the need to water, poke your finger into the potting mix. Water the container when the potting mix is dry at the 1-inch depth. Plants in small containers may require daily watering in hot, windy weather. When watering plants in containers, continue to apply water until water begins to flow out the drainage holes in the bottom of the container.
Do not allow the potting mix to dry out completely. Potting mixes shrink and pull away from the sides of the containers when completely dry. Dry potting mixes are difficult to moisten, as water tends to flow between the potting mix and container and then out the bottom of the container (while the potting mix remains dry). Containers that have been allowed to dry out completely should be placed in a tub of water for 20 to 30 minutes to remoisten the potting mix.
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