Salvail: Plants more greedy for water at times in their growing cycle

Start reducing the water in your irrigation systems in about mid-September not by duration but by frequency.

Living in the Okanagan, water is always on our minds. It is sometimes in short supply for people and sometimes in short supply for plants.

As gardeners, we need to understand the water relations that plants experience and also realize that the volume of water we use in our landscapes far outweighs the water we use for personal consumption.

One plan may be to reduce watering in our gardens when it’s not needed. So when is water not needed? Well, when plants are growing they use a lot of water, when plants are warm they use a lot of water, when deciduous plants have leaves they use a lot of water. When it is warm and windy plants use water.

So as the seasons cool down and plants go dormant they have less need for water.

And anyone who has attended my talks on the importance of oxygen to the root systems of plants will know that plants do not like being waterlogged.

So what are the water requirements of plants during the dormant period?

There are a few things to consider. Plants that hold their foliage during the winter (evergreens) have their leaves exposed to the desiccating winds. These plants, like any plants, do not like being water logging but during the winter, when temperatures come above the freezing point, they need to have some liquid water to take up.

When there is snow on the ground the thawing allows water to enter the soil providing the surface is not frozen solid.

Plants that live under the eaves of a house are in a tough spot and will often perish during the winter due to complete desiccation. So, when the temperatures are above freezing and the soil thaws it is important to get water to these plants, especially the evergreens.

Now other deciduous plants only need a moist condition that is not water logged to be healthy over winter.

Some so-called gardening experts may convince you to drown the plants in the fall when they really only need a good soak in about mid-October then left alone until spring (except the under eves plants). The best case scenario may look like this: We start reducing the water in our irrigation systems in about mid-September not by duration but by frequency. This means keep a good soak going when you water but don’t water as often. Depending on the weather, once or twice per week should suffice.

Once in October we reduce to one day per week for sure or even less if the fall rains are generous. By mid-October hopefully the ground is breathing and not overly saturated or we may have to withhold all water from here on out, but normally in this valley things are drying out.

Regardless of irrigation system function (unless your property is very large) using a trickling hose around your evergreens first then other trees and shrubs to give a final soak before winter would be suggested.

By November most plants are quite dormant and water need has dropped off. Now through the winter months we need only observe.

When we do get snow, moving some onto evergreens first especially any under eves is a priority.

Other plants will usually survive considerable drought due to the lack of leaves.

We have often mentioned to our listeners on The Garden Show to drain your hoses and store one in a garage for winter use if needed. Just remember that plants sitting in water over winter have as much or more of a chance of dying from drowning as dry plants have from dying of drought.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

District offers safety tips after cougar spotted near Lake Country school

The animal was seen on a walking trail near Peter Greer Elementary Saturday morning

Emergency crews rush youth to hospital after quadding accident in West Kelowna

West Kelowna Fire Rescue’s new off-road vehicle was used in the rescue

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan, Shuswap

Environment Canada is forecasting strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy downpours in parts of the Interior

WorkSafe BC conducted 70 inspections in the Okanagan amid B.C.’s reopening plan

WorkSafe BC has conducted 100 inspections at restaurants across the province since May 19

West Kelowna reopens beach volleyball, new pickleball courts

The City of West Kelowna is asking residents to maintain safe distancing

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Partial return to class for Central Okanagan students: COVID-19

School District 23 and the Board of Education have released a letter regarding returning to class

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Similkameen winery co-owned by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C.’s provincial health officer is part of the original ownership group of Clos du Soleil in Keremeos

Shuswap man reported missing by RCMP has been found unharmed

Salmon Arm resident apologizes for having caused anyone concern

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

Most Read