Keeping Plants Hydrated in the Summer Heat

Jun 16, 2017

Mother Nature can be pretty inconsistent when it comes to watering the yard or garden, but it's not hard to make up the difference. However, some watering techniques yield better results than others. Iowa State Extension Program Specialist Linda Naeve suggests watering plants in the early morning.

She says, "5-9 a.m. is probably optimum because the wind isn't blowing much, so you can direct the water where you want it to go. It's cooler, less evaporation, so the water is getting to the point where you want it in the soil. And the plants will probably dry off by midday, so you will have fewer disease problems. We don't like to see a lot of midday watering because it's not going to the directed point. The wind may be blowing, we get a lot of evaporation in midday," says Naeve.

She says that the evening is the worst time of day to water plants.

"The evening might be my least preferred time for watering. Not only is there wind that that may not direct the sprinkler where it should go, but we are wetting the foliage if we apply overhead watering through the water wand or through a sprinkler. And by wetting the foliage, that plant may not dry out, it might be an area where you don't get good air movement and the plant stays wet through evening hours, and that really promotes the spread of diseases."

Naeve says the best approach is to install a drip irrigation system that will deliver a slow, steady supply of water near the roots of the plants. The average garden needs between half-an-inch and an inch-and-a-half of water every week.  

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Naeve about the best ways to water plants in this summer weather. Iowa State University Extension horticulturist Richard Jauron also joins the conversation to answer questions from listeners.