The Q&A Archives: Watering Plants

Question: I have recently moved into a house with a number of flower beds with a variety of plant life (most of which I do not recognize). I have never gardened before and therefore do not know the basics about how often and how much watering I should be doing. Is there a "rule of thumb" (ie. every 2 days for 10 minutes) that is a safe estimate for a variety of plants, some with more shade than others? Thanks for any help that you can provide. Also, can you recommend a good garden book for Southern California?

Answer: Watering requirements vary from plant to plant, and watering frequency really depends upon your soil type, and the weather. For a good rule of thumb, plan to provide one-inch of water per week to small trees, lawns, and ornamental shrubs. One-inch per week should be adequate for most vegetable and flower gardens, as well. Try watering deeply once or twice a week rather than applying frequent, shallow sprinkling. Applying small doses of water will make the plants roots stay up in the top layer of soil where they'll be dependent upon daily waterings. If you thoroughly wet the root zones of your plants, the roots will travel deeper into the soil and be able to survive hot, dry weather. An absolute 'must' for any gardener's library is the Sunset Western Garden Book, Sunset Publishing Corp., Menlo Park, CA. ISBN# 0-376-03851-9

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