How Does Your Garden Grow?

Louise Grabell

It’s hot and getting hotter as the month of June progresses. Your irrigation system will keep everything alive. But you must attend to anything growing in a container. With a shovel and a bit of ingenuity, you can install extra “spaghetti” tubes to reach your containers and get them on the watering system. It doesn’t matter how long the tubing is, once the irrigation is running, water will reach every container you put on the line. Provided you’ve got the pipework sorted and have implemented your ball valves effectively (see here for more information), you can expect to see some exciting results from your irrigation system. Container-grown citrus should be on your irrigation system, as well as any other dwarf plants or shrubs.

Container-grown cactus is a different story. Mother Nature can take care of these plants most of the time if their containers are large enough and if they are exposed to falling rain. Many of you have decorated your patios with container-grown cactus (and succulents) and have placed these containers underneath your patio roofs. This means that the only water they get is the water you give them! In this case, cactus in pots will need a thorough monthly watering and bi-weekly watering during the upcoming extreme heat. Potted succulents will need weekly watering. It is also important to remember that any plant that is potted will need fertilizing since the only nourishment available to them is in the soil you originally put in the pot. As time passes, the original nutrients are used up.

You can tell when potted cacti are dehydrated because, like our own skin, when it’s dry, they shrivel. Any cactus with accordion pleats like barrel cacti or saguaros will show signs of deepening pleats when there is not enough water. You may even see this shrinkage in the cacti around your landscape, especially if they are new plantings. Since cacti are not normally on your irrigation system, feel free to hand water those cacti showing drought stress-just like those cacti in containers. Mother Nature will take care of mature cacti in your landscape in a few weeks.

Since I am focused on watering/irrigation, let me give you some advice. I have discovered very strange watering schedules around the houses in SaddleBrooke, particularly for citrus trees. Citrus like to have a really good, deep watering and then they like time to dry out. At this time of year, your citrus trees should be deeply watered two to three hours on the drip system once every seven to ten days. Unfortunately, most of us do not have separate valves for our citrus trees and other shrubs are on the same line. In this case, still do a deep watering and see if once every seven days works for all plants on the same valve. It’s just a matter of keeping your eyes on your landscape. Monsoon rains will shortly add water!

Your Master Gardeners invite you to visit their new website: for all up to date information and events for our community. Garden questions? You can reach our very own Garden Helpline by calling Pat at 407-6459.

Remember, nothing brings more tranquility to the heart than a beautiful garden.