Wise Watering Tips for the Hot Tennessee Summer

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watering tips

If you live and garden in Tennessee, we don’t have to tell you twice. Summer is a scorcher. Just as you can start to feel a little wilted and brown around the edges when the sun beats down, so, too, can your plants. Wise watering strategies can help keep your annuals and perennials thriving despite the heat. Follow these smart tips for watering when the mercury soars.

Be consistent

Just like people, plants like to know what’s coming. Giving them the same amount of water at approximately the same intervals (e.g., morning every other day) is better than oversoaking once and forgetting about them for three weeks.

Check the clock

Morning is a great time to water. It allows the plants to absorb the liquid before the water evaporates. Plus, you get the benefit of watering before you start sweating.

See more: Why Basil is Best For Summer Gardening

Go deep

When you do water, remember these plants are thirsty. After checking that the soil is indeed dry, soak it thoroughly. You don’t want water pooling on top, but you don’t want a little dribble that won’t make it to the deep roots, either. Just as you need a long drink of water in the July sun, so do your plants.

Use the rain, part 1

If you have certain low-lying areas of your garden where rain collects, don’t waste the elbow grease or soil trying to level them out. Instead, use the shallow areas and surrounding berms to build a rain garden. Perennials such as Joe Pye weed, turtlehead, bee balm and cornflower will thrive in those naturally wet conditions, and you’ll have to water less.

See more: Maintenance For Summer Gardening

Use the rain, part 2

Setting up a rain barrel at your gutter downspouts allows you to collect rainwater when it rolls off your roof and then you can use it, for free, later. Many municipalities and nonprofits, such as the Cumberland River Compact, sell low-cost rain barrels and offer advice on installation. A few cinder blocks and some tin snips are usually enough to get the barrel in place.

Keep your hands to yourself

While you can deadhead spent blooms and pick off any easy pests, it is best not to stress your plants by pruning or repotting in the high heat. Let your plants concentrate on drinking what they need and save the major surgery for fall. The same goes for fertilizing: lay off until the temperatures drop.

See more: Why You Should Plant Salvias in Your Summer Garden

watering tips

Water-Wise Plants

Water-Wise Plants

All that wise watering won’t make a ton of difference on wilted blooms that aren’t intended for this climate. Bates Nursery, a Nashville garden center, has three suggestions for heat- (and humidity-) tolerant plants that fare well when the thermometer moves into triple digits.

  1. If you’re fond of colored annuals that brighten containers, check out Wave petunias, which don’t have to be dead-headed.
  2. Lantana brings clusters of color to annual plantings and also attracts bees and butterflies to the garden.
  3. Autumn Joy sedum is the garden workhorse. It is drought resistant, needs little watering and comes back year after year. Hold off on deadheading and you’ll have some winter interest in the garden, too.

Margaret Littman is a freelance writer and a Master Gardener of Davidson County. For more free advice on gardening in Tennessee, check with the UT Extension office in your county.

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