GARDENING: Time to water plants, already?

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

WATER! I can only think of one other time in May and early June that I wrote a column about the need to water plants. And here we are, needing to water our plants.

I usually don’t start writing about watering until late July and into August. By that time, many of our new plants are established and need a boost to keep the roots moist. Usually, a good soaking prevents problems.

This time of the year is a bit different. New plants such as annuals and perennials likely haven’t rooted into the soil and aren’t absorbing moisture from the surrounding soil. The soilless mix that they are growing in dries out much quicker than our clay soils.

I checked mine the other day and the soil wasn’t really in bad shape. It was somewhat moist down around two to three inches. However, the annuals and vegetables were still drying out. These plants just aren’t established at this point.

In addition, I planted some seeds in the vegetable garden (sunflower, zucchini, pumpkins and corn) and if I don’t keep the seedbed moist, they won’t germinate. Many of these are in the top inch or less and dry out quickly with the sun and the wind.

That’s another problem, the winds that we have had recently dry the plants out quickly and they aren’t established enough to draw in water from the ground. Sometimes they perk up at night when the sun goes down; you need to check to see if the root zone is moist.

Trees and shrubs planted this year and those planted last year, and even last spring should be checked for moisture levels in the root zone. I planted a few new trees and shrubs last fall and I have been keeping tabs on them.

Since these have a larger root zone, they don’t dry out as quickly as the smaller annuals and perennials. When I water them, I lay the hose down at the base of the trunk and turn it on to a trickle in order to soak the roots.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

From what I am hearing from the weather forecasters, there is no significant rain in sight for the next week or so. Pay attention to your plants!

In terms of the lawn, I was at my son’s house in the Beavercreek area and noticed that lawns in that area look a bit drier than ours. Some were already starting to water. We live in the northern part of Clark County.

We don’t tend to water the lawn. Too much of it for one thing. The other is that we are OK with it going dormant for a short period. Lawns can go without water for about three weeks. After that, they need at least an inch to saturate the crowns and keep them alive.

Back to that weather forecast, the one that I checked had no rain until June 10; after that it had rain predicted every day. I hope it’s pop-up showers and not raining all day every day! I would rather be too dry than too wet!

Pamela Corle-Bennett is the state master gardener volunteer coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. Contact her by email at

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