Drought conditions mean extra care for lawns and gardens

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 | 5:27 p.m. CDT; updated 11:18 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 17, 2012

COLUMBIA – The plants in many of Columbia's yards are thirsty. Here are some tips to possibly save some of your outdoor plants.

“Basically, water a lot,” said Bart Piotter, owner of E.C. Piotter & Sons Nursery. This advice seems be intuitive, but Piotterpointed out that some people forget about certain plants, mainly evergreens. While deciduous plants will show signs of wilting, evergreens will not show any signs until it is too late. Pine needles and other evergreen leaves do not show signs of stress until they start to turn yellow and fall off.

Many assume that due to their waxy coverings, evergreens will survive without watering them, but they need water too. Piotter urged owners to be proactive and not neglect their evergreens.

Other tips gathered online included:

  • Potted plants are typically the most vulnerable. Watering daily and keeping a tray of water underneath the plant so that it can soak up more water is advised. Also moving the plant to the shade to prevent drying out can help potted plants survive the heat.
  • Mulch is recommended to help soil retain moisture and keep soil temperatures lower. Mulch is available for free from sites maintained by Columbia Public Works Department
  • It is recommended not to fertilize when plants are dry. Dry plants will soak up fertilizer more quickly, resulting in fertilizer burn.
  • Water as early in the day as possible to prevent evaporation and ensure plants are well-watered before the hottest part of the day. When possible, use drip irrigation to get water directly to the soil instead of on the sidewalk.
  • It is also recommended to not transplant plants during hot weather. 

 Sources used: Gardening: Caring for plants in a heatwave, Help Your Plants Survive Summer Heat

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