Congratulations! You’ve planted some new shrubs, trees, or bushes.
The first year of a plant’s life is the most important to its growth and development. It’s true what you’ve heard: new plants need more water at the beginning of their life than they will once their root systems are established and they’re fully adjusted to their environment. But how much water do new plants need? And when can you back off watering them so much?
Read on to get some tips on how to best care for new plants and set them up for a long, healthy life.
Several factors should be considered when figuring out how much water plants need:
- Soil: What kind of soil do you have in your yard? What is the texture of the soil? Clay-like soil tends to hold moisture better than sand and silt, so consider the soil as you figure out how much water your new plants will need.
- Climate and weather: What is the weather like in your area? Are you in an arid or a humid region? Does it tend to be windy? If your area is dry and windy, you may need to water your plants more because they will lose water and nutrients to the wind and thirsty dirt.
- The plants themselves: What kinds of new shrubs, trees, or bushes did you plant? Are the plants best suited for your soil and climate? If so, then they may need less water–and less attention–than an exotic species that isn’t indigenous to your area. Observe the leaves of the plant. The larger the leaves, typically the better they are established, and the stronger they are. Delicate new growth indicates the need for more water to survive.
Once you’ve considered these factors, here are some easy tips for how much water to apply to your new plants.
- Brand new plants: No matter what kind of plant it is–tree, shrub, or bush–water it as soon as you put it in the ground. Once the water is absorbed, go ahead and give it another drink of water, moistening the soil and giving it enough water to “sip” on for a little while. Water new plants daily for the first week, and then two or three times per week for the first year of their life.
- Shrubs: Typically shrubs come in bucket or other similar container. Newly planted shrubs need approximately ⅓ of the volume of the container’s worth of water at first, and then a bit more as the root system spreads. You can keep the container it came in to measure the water or at least get a close estimation of how much water the shrub will need.
- Trees: Trees need about 1½ gallon of water per inch of stem width. If the new tree’s width is two inches, you would give it three gallons of water each time you water it.
Finally, a good question is “when can I stop watering them so much?” We’re glad you asked! You will typically want to water your young plants two or three times a week through spring, summer, and fall of their first year. When the ground starts to harden and freeze, you’re safe to back off watering for winter. With the advent of spring, don’t forget to continue to nurture your plants.
Even though they survived the winter, they’ll still need regular watering for the next few years of their life–though certainly not as much as they did at the beginning. You can typically water two- and three-year-old plants once or twice a week in optimal conditions, but more if your soil is inhospitable or you live in a dry, arid region. Once plants are three years old, they’re probably well enough established to survive with only occasional waterings. If you notice they’re not thriving, what should you do? You guessed it! Provide them with a little extra water, just in case.
What watering tips do you follow to keep your plants healthy? Comment with your ideas below!
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