The Q&A Archives: Planting Dwarf Bottlebrush

Question: I'm concerned about the correct watering techniques for a newly planted 5 gallon size dwarf bottlebrush grown in Monrovia's nursery.

Answer: Always water slowly, deeply and infrequently. If you remember nothing else, this method will help your plants thrive. Desert soil and water both contain salts, which can accumulate in the root zone over time. This salt buildup forms where the water stops penetrating. If you ?sprinkle? plants lightly and frequently, salts will build up in the top layers of soil and damage or kill your plant. Deep watering?or leaching?prevents this by flushing the salts past the root zone.

Roots also need oxygen to survive and soil that is continually wet doesn?t provide it. Use a soil probe (any long, pointed piece of metal or wood to poke into the soil) to check how far water has penetrated. The probe moves easily through moist soil, but stops when it hits hard dry soil. For mature trees, water should reach about 3 feet deep; for shrubs 2 feet; for small plants 1 foot. There are numerous variables involved for watering schedules, such as type of soil, how fast or slow it drains, sun and wind exposure at your site, temperature, age and condition of the plants and much more. Use the information above to determine how moist the soil is before automatically applying more water. As a tree grows, its new roots tips, where nutrients are being absorbed, spread out laterally. If you are watering only within a few-foot area at the base of the tree, it's not really being watered effectively. Expand your watering zone out PAST the tree's canopy. As the tree grows, continue expanding that water zone. If you have an irrigation system, you need to move the emitters out. If you use a hose, just drag it out further.

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