Outdoor plants take a beating during extreme conditions such as drought. How do you keep plants flourishing, despite the weather? Here are some survival tips on how to care for plants during a drought.
Drought tolerant plant selection
If you live in an area that tends to have long hot and dry summers, choose plants that tolerate drought well. Succulents and cacti, resilient in extreme heat, require little to no watering. Investigate plants that are native to your area. For your lawn, plant grasses with a deep root system that holds up well under drought conditions. Look into planting zoysia, St. Augustine, or many types of Bermuda grass.
Watering too frequently will dramatically increase your water bill and can damage your plants. Irrigation systems set to timers make watering simple and conserve 20 percent to 40 percent over a hose or sprinkler. Did you know plants can acclimate to less water? Reduce the amount gradually over several weeks, and watch for signs of wilting. Watering between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. yields the best absorption.
Soil Improvement during a drought
Loamy soil has different watering needs than sandy or clay-like soil. Each also drains water at different rates, affecting absorption. Composting regularly aids in nutrient distribution, making watering more effective. During a drought, layer three to four inches of fresh mulch on top of containers and in-ground beds. This allows the soil to retain water longer and also protects the roots from feeling the effects of extreme heat.
Managing plant care on vacation
Set irrigation systems to water your yard while you are away. Bring more sensitive plants indoors, and hire a friend or neighbor to water indoor and outdoor plants as necessary.
Alternate methods of watering
Use harvesting systems and rain barrels to store water during periods of high rain. This can supplement your supply, giving you a water source independent of your city’s reservoir during a drought. Have a well system? Harvesting also takes demand off your well, leaving it free to furnish water for your house.
In many locations, laws restrict water usage to specific days or times. Know what your local regulations allow to avoid fines. Want to harvest water? Some locations offer rebates for using harvesting systems, giving you money back. Check into tax exemptions as well.
Related – Home Irrigation System Basics