How do you water when it is hot?

sammy zone 7 TulsaJuly 5, 2014

Do you measure your water around the roses? Do you put a device into the soil to see how deep the water goes, and how long it takes to get it there?

I tend to guess, and I water way too much. I also water areas where I do not want vegetation. I don't want a watering system for many reasons.

For those of you who measure, how deep into the soil should the water go? Once it gets really hot, I will water the roses daily, but often just by hand. I just think the rinse will help them - especially when we have days or weeks over 100 degrees.

I am interested in what you do.


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paparoseman(z8 WA. PO.)

Keep in mind that hot here in the Pacific Northwest is a different hot than what you are talking about. We MIGHT get 30 days over the entire summer that are 80 or above. In any case I have a hose with a sprayer head on it which I use so that I can have a mobile refiller for my watering can. I hand water all of my roses one at a time. Two gallons each during dry weather about three times a week. My soil is a mix of sand and a BUNCH of organics that I have added to build up the soil over time. Since this new garden that I am building up at the house that my wife owned well before she was married to me has a small municipal water department the water is QUITE a bit more expensive than I was used to where I was living and growing roses.

Therefore the efficient use of water is quite important to me.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 8:29AM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

I use plastic watering cans and milk jugs with a small hole punched in the side at the very bottom (very small). I adjust the hole size so a gallon milk jug will take about 20 mins to empty. I set these next to the plant and let them drip all the water out. This method is also very good for applying water soluble products to specific plants. Also allows you to multitask. :)

The device I used to see how deep the water went was a shovel.

I can't wait to get all mine on my drip system. While I enjoy doing it, watering by hand is far too time consuming for me.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 11:47AM
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comtessedelacouche (10b S.Australia: hotdryMedclimate)

With our hot, dry summers and having been through many years of drought and severe water restrictions, we've all become hugely water conscious here in South Oz, and gardening practices have evolved to meet the new realities. These days the general rule is to water more deeply, less often, and MULCH, MULCH, MULCH - at least 4-6 inches of anything organic (straw is popular, cheap and readily available round here). Also, as Paparoseman says, building up the structure of the soil with organic matter - for better moisture retention in sandy/gritty soils and for moisture penetration in hard baked clay - makes sense where water is scarce, or expensive. Deeper watering means there's really no need to keep topping up or 'rinsing' the roses daily; in fact frequent shallow watering encourages the roots to stay near the surface so long as they keep finding water there; and that just fosters continued dependence as they'll rapidly wilt if you don't constantly rewet that top 3-6-9 inches or whatever of soil. Instead, the aim is to encourage them to send their roots down as deep as possible, by periodically giving the soil one lovely long deep soak. Deeper down the soil is cooler and will stay moist of its own accord much longer than the surface layers. In my old garden, once they were established I mostly only watered my roses if they actually started to droop - maybe 3 or 4 times a year at most, if they were lucky! Then, I'd usually just leave the hose 'weeping' gently into the big wide trough around the base of the plant for several hours. I just kind of guessed too, by visualising the extent of the root area underground, as to when that whole area, and a bit beyond, was fully soaked, different for different sized plants of course. I don't think you get as much repeat bloom on roses under this sort of treatment, but mine were always perfectly healthy without any cossetting, and profuse in their main flushes of bloom. Old roses, as has been often said, are great survivors, sometimes even doing better when left to their own devices/survival strategies. Of course it depends on the specific species and varieties being suited to one's particular climate and micro-climate. And what your own local situation is re water restrictions, climate change, etc., what your personal requirements are for your garden, and what you can conveniently manage all have a bearing...lots of individual factors... Sorry about the overlong and paragraphless ramble, hope it's of some help/interest. :-)

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 2:31PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

My roses have a layer of mulch, but I have not renewed the mulch that needs to be in the beds yet, so they have a thinner layer.

I watered well last night, yet this morning when I was weeding and preparing to put down mulch, the dirt was a collections of hard "rocks" of soil. Obviously, I do not water as deeply as I thought.

I use an oscillating sprinkler, and leave it in one position for about 15 minutes. It is overwhelming to water about 120 roses by hand.

I think I need to begin using the smaller sprinklers and leave them in one place longer.

Even with mulch in place, the area dries out quickly, and our temps have not even reached 90 all day. (We may hit it, but much of the day is more comfortable). However, it gets very hot here, and that will begin soon. I never really have understood how much water should go into a rose hole or area, how long it should remain damp, and when to water again.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 4:38PM
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I use a series of weeper hoses, both the 5/8" diameter 25' fabric covered and 50' rubber-type material (Gilmour has vastly improved their latter product this year; the 1/2" diameter weepers have never worked well here). I water once a week (can stretch to 8 or 9 days), 1.5 hours (reduced to 1.25 hours in less-stressed areas or to cut back water use) for the 50' hose with the faucet turned on @ rate of 2 gallons per minute, half those times for the 25' hose. I have manual timers on all my faucets.

I use weeper hoses instead of drip because they allow me to tuck odd plants (I have lots of manias and lots of odd plants) into the spaces between roses without having to install paraphernalia for every last plant -- all I have to do is "plant along the water line", if it's a plant that needs irrigation.

My measuring device is whatever bamboo stake is at hand. I push it into the ground after watering to see how far it will go in (won't penetrate drier/harder soil). Watering this way I can usually expect to push the stake in at least 1' deep, minimum acceptable would be around 8", the goal being deep watering.

Whether this is correct, theoretically I don't know -- practically it seems to work okay -- roses repeat fairly well even this year, though I am being stingy due to the drought so the roses in the harsher places are not repeating as much. It does get hot here. I use mulch both to conserve moisture and hide the weeper hoses.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 5:20PM
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catsrose(VA 6)

Technically, I'm on drip, but I'm redoing several lines, so right now, I'm watering by hand (450+ roses). Deep watering once or twice a week is better than frequent watering as it forces the roots down (where it is also cooler in summer/warmer i winter and builds greater stability). Rule of thumb, 1" of water penetrates 4" of soil. Obviously, sand is more and clay less. Sprinkler are the most inefficient watering in the world. Over 50% is lost to evaporation, not to mention not hitting the target. Put a bowl next to one of your roses and see how long it takes to accumulated 3 inches of water.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 6:50PM
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seil zone 6b MI

Hot in Michigan is between 90 and 100. We don't often get more than a few days over 100 in the summer and that's usually in August. And when it's hot here it's sticky! Our humidities are always very high. 50% humidity is positively arid for us. We normally run in the 70 to 80% humidity range and can go MUCH higher. You would think that with all that humidity you wouldn't have to water as much but you'd be wrong. The soil dries out fast anyway. I water about every third day in normal temps, 70s to mid 80s, every other day as the thermometer climbs higher into the 80s and when it gets into the 90s+ I water every day. And I do spray the roses down. When it gets that hot I know I like a nice cool shower so why wouldn't the roses. Sometimes I think I can hear them sigh in relief, lol!

I do have one of those water meters. It's about 8 inches long and you stick it in the ground and there's a meter on the top that has different moisture levels marked on it but I don't rely solely on that. I think it really works best on the pots rather than the ground roses. I also use the tin can method. I have empty tuna fish cans in certain parts of the beds so I can gauge what about an inch of watering is. It is not a fool proof method. It's a guesstimate at best. But in the end, when in doubt, I water! I don't rely on the weather for it because they can tell me day after day to expect showers and we never see a drop. So I water. I also have a "canary" rose, Graham Thomas, that will often tell me when the bed is dry. He wilts quickly when he's thirsty.

I have to water all the pots by hand with the hose but I have soaker hoses in the beds. I have found that when it's very hot the soakers don't do enough so I end up watering the beds with either a sprinkler or by hand too. Watering is my full time summer occupation, lol.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 7:37PM
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We learned in my Master Gardener class that bushes, including roses, should be watered to a depth of two feet and trees to a depth of three feet. Don't know if that is only applicable to my climate only, but doubt it.

Soil probes are good tools to have to check depth of watering.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 10:48PM
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bart_2010(8/9 Italy)

I didn't get to read all the posts yet, but comtessedelacouche's system seems to be closest to mine . I never water established roses,only rarely the new implants (say, once every thre-four weeks, tops). I don't have access to running water in my garden, so I am forced to be miserly,since i have to depend on what I can harvest and what I can bring in.I am working hard on my soil and my mulching; I hope to obtain a garden that is pretty independent and very strong, able to thrive without any cosseting. One of the main reasons I love and grow roses is that , at bottom, they are tough and do not need a whole lot of water. I get a fantastic spring flush; anything else I consider a bonus. This year, they are still flowering, thanks to the fact that we got some rain,but during the worst heat of summer,why force them to bloom? says I....bart

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 5:05AM
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Once it gets really hot, I will water the roses daily, but often just by hand.

The worst thing you can do in hot weather is water frequently, and water in small amounts. It forces the roots to stay near the surface, where they are susceptible to drying.

SOAK them thoroughly, checking with a moisture meter to make sure you got the water at least 6 inches down. Mulch heavily. Water again when the soil is drying out an inch below the surface. Soaker hose or bubblers are great, because they can be under the mulch.

Rinsing them off daily is fine, but the added humidity might help the mildew more than the rises.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 5:30AM
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ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

I can see where watering deeply every 3-4 days or even more might work in clay soil, but in my decomposed granite the soil doesn't seem to hold the water and after one or at the most two really hot days the roses look severely stressed, and so does almost every other plant. An irrigation system would be best but we don't have that yet and therefore I water every day to two days, depending on the heat. I use a trowel to see whether the water has just wet the mulch or is actually going deeper.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 4:56PM
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I agree about the kind of soil making a huge difference in watering frequency needs. My brother lives in Florida on sandy soil. In some parts of the year rains almost every day, but they still sometimes need to water. Clay will hold water but sand will not. Gritty soils are even worse. The water runs right through it.

Adding compost helps. It makes good air spaces in a clay soil and holds onto water in a sandy soil. Compost is like an old-fashioned patent medicine. It's good for what ails you!


    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 8:39PM
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paparoseman(z8 WA. PO.)

At my previous garden I actually added clumping cat litter to the holes that the roses were planted in because the soil was quite sandy. I added it as a amendment and mixed it with the other additives so that it would not be concentrated enough to CLUMP in the holes. The clay held water VERY good and when I had to dig up a few roses their roots were thoroughly wrapped around any areas where the litter was.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 9:33PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

I have purchased some soaker hoses.

I have not secured them yet. I know I want them under the mulch. Do you also put them under the soil?

When the hose crosses the path from one bed to another, can you bury it? Or do you place it under some rocks?

Do you run the hose just on one side of the rose?

These sound like dumb questions, but I remember why I stopped using these hoses. They twist and turn, and are quite hard to handle. Mine had a blue disc in the end that had a hole in it. I did not have sense enough to remove it, so I got off to a bad start.

Thanks for all the suggestions.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 10:11PM
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AquaEyes 7a New Jersey

I don't have as large a collection (or planted area) as many of you, and living in the Mid-Atlantic means lots of rain -- but it has been getting into the 90s with high humidity these last few weeks. My landlord didn't turn on the spigot for the hose out back until just a week ago (June 30), which meant that if anything needed to be watered between rains, I did it by filling a bucket in the house and carrying it out.

Interestingly, the only things that needed a little help were the new perennials I planted just this year. Well....and also most of the seeds I sowed didn't make it with the hose not turned on (I sowed them too late in Spring), but I'm not counting that. None of the roses (save the ones in pots) needed water yet, pushing growth and blooming just fine on rain alone. But they're all planted VERY deeply.

When I was putting the beds together, I planted the 1- or 2-gal roses directly into the native unamended soil (which looks more like red clay-like subsoil that turns rock-hard if dry for too long, and dries out quickly), after weeds/grass were smothered to death by sheets of cardboard laid out. Spread out over that cardboard were all the tree trimmings (leaves and twigs) thin enough to snip into tiny bits with pruners, with a few thicker branches scattered around as well to help weigh down the cardboard. Then about six inches of composted mulch went over all that last Autumn, with composted manure mixed in this Spring.

Even when we went almost a month between significant rains, only the top inch of the mulch/manure ever dried out completely. And keep in mind that this top inch is about six inches above ground-level -- essentially, this is like a raised bed for the perennials, or a heavily-mulched bed for the roses. I think I might get away with only one deep watering a month next year, when the perennials are established. But, again, keep in mind my location -- we get between about 4 and 5 inches of precipitation each month throughout the year, our driest month being February. I wouldn't suggest this for So-Cal.



If you flip through the pictures in the threads linked below, you'll get an idea of the layers of soil and amendments going on. Note that the "soil level" you see at the base of the roses is actually the top of about 6" of composted mulch and manure sitting on top of the native soil, and thus also on top of the soil-line where the roses were planted.

To see bed progression Summer 2013:

Then came the mulch October 2013:

Late April 2014:

May/June 2014:

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 11:54PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

Sammy. For our veggie garden I run the drip line and before the soaker hose through segments of PVC water pipe remnants that I dug a shallow trench under walk ways making sure not to pinch the lines. No worries about heavy stuff or any one tripping.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 1:08AM
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nikthegreek(9b/10a E of Athens)

When one uses a drip system, water disperses in the shape of an upright cone under each emitter. The more permeable the soil is, the narrower and deeper is that cone. Ergo, the more permeable the soil is, the more (but smaller) emitters one needs to install. Also, the more permeable the soil is, the slower one needs to water (i.e. the emitters should be smaller and run for longer). A soaker hose is often a better solution than emitters in very permeable soil.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 1:57AM
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