Plant, water, mulch and enjoy are the key words for the Oklahoma garden in June!

We are two months into the 2018 growing season and have four to five months left to enjoy our plantings before a hard freeze ends the season.  With temperatures in the nineties and even flirting with triple digits it is hard to imagine a killing freeze in our future but we know it will come.  While we can still be planting trees, shrubs, color annuals and warm season vegetables our priority in the June, July and August heat is to water and take care of the plants we have planted.  We have plenty of light and heat to help our plants grow and so water becomes the main limiting factor to plant success through the summer months.  The main question on watering, folks want to know, is whether to water once a week or twice a week or how often to water.  The answer is never that simple.  Watering needs vary dramatically based on your type of soil, depth of soil, type of plants, how much sun or shade they receive, the size of the plants, whether they are new plantings or established plantings.  Correct watering actually requires you to practice good observation skills, to think and to exercise judgment.  It may well be the most important gardening function and often makes the difference in how successful your garden and plants perform.

New plantings always need more water than established plants that have a bigger root system and are rooted deeper into the ground. Plants in sunny areas or setting on or along concrete or asphalt sidewalks or driveways will need more water than plants at the middle of a flower bed or vegetable garden.  Plants in sandy or well drained soils will need more water than plants in loamy or clay soils that stay moist longer.  Lots of organic matter in your containers or flowerbeds like sphagnum peat moss or different kinds of compost will help hold water and reduce surface evaporation and watering.   A good deep soaking style of watering whether by hand or using drip irrigation will get moisture deeper in the ground and will allow you to go longer between watering applications than short bursts of overhead watering by hand or a sprinkler system.

Mulching the top of your flowerbeds and container gardens will  cut your watering by about half.  A two or three inch layer of hulls (cottonseed, pecan, cocoa), pine straw or the many kinds of bark mulches will reduce surface evaporation of water, keep the root zone of your plants cooler and happier and dramatically reduce weed pressure.  When used with drip irrigation, mulching and drip can often reduce water use by up to seventy-five percent while keeping your plants growing and getting more consistent growth.

Most all plants do better if you can keep the moisture on at even level.  They don’t like to stand in water where they can’t get oxygen to the roots or to get so dry they are wilting, especially the stress of repeat wilting.  Make sure to keep an eye on your plantings and water as needed to keep your plants healthy and growing.

Beautiful crape myrtles blooming in yards and parks across our state is a sure sign that long and warmer summer days have arrived.  Crape myrtles make a spectacular show in red, pink, white, lavender and many variations of these colors. You can plant container grown crape myrtle all through the summer as long as you are prepared to water them.  We often get the idea to add crape myrtle to our yards when we see their amazing summer display of flowers.  Spring and fall are the easiest time to get them established but with proper care crape myrtles can safely be planted now. Another advantage of summer planting, as long as you are prepared to water, is the chance to select the color of flower you want to see for years to come in your yard.  Beside many colors there are many varieties that go from dwarf plants that only grow a few feet tall to small tree varieties that will grow to twenty even thirty feet tall over time.

Plant, water, mulch and enjoy are the key words for the Oklahoma garden in June.  Don’t look at watering as a task but as a chance to meditate and enjoy your garden as you watch your plants grow and evolve.

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