WEATHER GUIDE: DRY WEATHER TIPS

 

Lack of rain has caused many plants and grasses to experience moderate to severe wilting. Extended dry periods in the spring and early summer are very common on Florida’s West Coast.

During dry periods it is essential that you make every drop of water count.

Here are a few steps you can take to help:

  • Only water in the early morning. Plants only use water when the sun is shining. When you water in the afternoon or evening much of the water you apply will be lost to evaporation and gravity pulling the water past the plants root zone over night. Additionally, watering close to sunrise reduces the chances of disease problems in your lawn.

  • Be sure that your sprinklers are providing uniform coverage. If your sprinklers are shooting a solid stream of water over a dry spot you must disrupt the water spray so that water gets to the entire arc of the sprinkler.

  • If you get a dry spot, also known as a “hot spot”, do not water the entire lawn to wet a small area. When you have a dry spot show up in your lawn, the best way to get it rewet is with a soaker hose, or a regular hose set to a slow drip, or hand watering the spot. When an isolated dry spot occurs in your yard the sand will very often go so dry it actually will repel water. Getting these spots rewet to break the surface tension is essential to get the grass rewet.

  • How do I know if I have a bug problem or is it just water stress? Water stress will always cause the grass blades to curl. By curling up the grass blade is reducing the amount of water it needs by exposing less surface area to the sun. When insects like Chinch Bugs are attacking the grass, the leaf blades will typically remain flat.
  • If the entire yard is drying out you will need to water your lawn several times to break the surface tension on the soil so water can penetrate the surface. For automatic systems, run all zones approximately 50% of their normal run-time then run the zones again at 100% of the usual time.

  • Contact the Southwest Florida Water Management District at www.WaterMatters.org for additional information.

Drastic Measures for Water Conservation During Drought

The following recommendations should be followed when drought is so severe and water use is so restricted that landscape plant survival is in question.
• Only irrigate plants when they start to wilt.
• Apply chemical wetting agents to soil so it will absorb water uniformly and prevent dry spots.
• For Bahia grass lawns, stop irrigating and allow grass to go dormant. Bahia grass will turn brown, but it recovers well when irrigation resumes.
• Prune plants severely to reduce leaf area.
• Remove weak plants.
• Thin dense beds of plants to reduce competition among plants.

For more information go to: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG026
Coping with Drought in the Landscape.Gary W. Knox. Environmental Horticulture Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date February 1, 1991. Revised March 5, 2002.
 

DRY SEASON-TOLERANT PLANTS

Using drought-tolerant plants is another way of conserving water in the home landscape. In areas where it is difficult to apply enough water, such as on sandy soil or terrain from which water drains rapidly, drought-tolerant plants offer an alternative. They are also a good choice in areas of the yard that cannot be reached with a hose.

Drought-Tolerant Plants for Sarasota/Manatee Counties

COMMON NAME

SCIENTIFIC NAME

COMMON NAME

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Trees
Eastern Red Cedar
Laurel Oak
Live Oak
Podocarpus .
Shumard Oak
Turkey Oak
Washington Palm
Shrubs
Japanese Privet
Juniper
Shining Sumac
Yaupon Holly
Mondo Grass
Weeping Lantana
Vines
Chinese Trumpet Creeper
English Ivy
Japanese Clematis
Trumpet Creeper
Trumpet Honeysuckle
Perennials
Blanket Flower
Yucca
Annuals

Trees
Juniperus virginiana
Quercus laurifolia
Quercus virginiana
Podocarpus spp.
Quercus shumardii
Quercus laevis
Washingtonia robusta
Shrubs
Ligustrum japonicum
Juniperus spp.
Rhus copallina
Ilex vomitoria
Ophiopogon japonicus
Lantana montevidensis
Vines
Campsis grandiflora
Hedera helix
Clematis dioscoreifolia
Campsis radicans
Lonicera sempervirens
Perennials
Gaillardia aristata
Yucca spp.
Annuals

Annual Phlox
Baby’s Breath
Black-yed Susan
Blue-eyed African Daisy
Calendula
California Poppy
Coreopsis
Cape Marigold
Chinese Forget-Me-Not
Cornflower
Cosmos
Gazania
Globe Amaranth
Mexican Sunflower
Moss Rose
Strawflower
Verbana
Succulents
Aloe .
Carrion Flower
Century Plant
Crown of Thorns
Hottentot Fig
Ice Plant

Phlox drummondii
Gypsophila spp.
Rudbeckia hirta
Arctotis stoechadifolia
Calendula officinalis
Eschscholzia californica
Coreopsis spp.
Dimorphotheca sinuata
Cynoglossum amabile
Centaurea cyanus
Cosmos bipinnatus
Gazania linearis
Gomphrena globosa
Tithonia rotundifolia
Portulaca grandiflora
Helichrysum bracteatum
Verbana hybrida
Succulents
Aloe spp.
Stapelia spp.
Agave americana
Euphorbia milii
Carpobrotus edulis
Mesembryanthemum crystallinum


For more information go to: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG217
Conserving Water in the Home Landscape. Robert J. Black. This document was originally published May 1993 as Fact Sheet WRC-11, a series of the Water Resources Council, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Reviewed/revised October 2003.

 

DRY SEASON-PLANTS

Variables such as plant species, soil type, time of year and weather conditions determine when, and how much, plants should be watered. Consequently, it is difficult to offer specific watering procedures. However, the following guidelines should help to answer some important questions.

Irrigate only when plants need water. During the summer, established plants need no water for three to five days after a rainfall or water application that distributes at least three-fourths of an inch of water.

Many landscape plants demonstrate their need for water by wilting. If they continue to wilt during the evening, water them the following morning. Some herbaceous plants, such as impatiens and coleus, typically wilt during the heat of the day, even though the soil contains adequate moisture. These plants transpire (i.e., they lose water vapor from their leaves and stems) faster than their root systems can absorb water from the soil. There is no need to water these plants unless they remain wilted during the evening.

Some plants show no early symptoms of drought stress. If drought conditions continue, however, they may exhibit injury symptoms, such as browning of leaf margins or tips and/or leaf drop. Plants should be watered before the appearance of injury symptoms, because at this stage of drought stress they may become severely damaged or die.

Plants in sandy soils exposed to full sunlight may need water every three to five days. The same plants placed in some shade or in soils of finer texture may need water only once a week, perhaps less often.

When watering, soak the soil thoroughly. Frequent, light sprinklings waste water and do little to satisfy the water requirements of a plant growing in hot, dry soil. Plants watered in this way often develop shallow root systems, increasing their susceptibility to damage if watering is interrupted for a few days.

For most of Florida's sandy soils, one-half to three-fourths of an inch of water is sufficient to wet the root zone. Because not all soils and plants are alike, however, some adjustments in the amount of water applied may be necessary.

For more information go to: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG217
Conserving Water in the Home Landscape. Robert J. Black. This document was originally published May 1993 as Fact Sheet WRC-11, a series of the Water Resources Council, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Reviewed/revised October 2003.

DRY WEATHER PRACTICES

General Practices

Irrigation Priorities. Irrigate highly visible and intensively managed areas first. Drought sensitive plants should have high priority. Turf should have lower priority. Although turf is drought sensitive, it is cheaper to replace turf than trees and shrubs. Irrigate turf only after about 30% of your lawn begins to wilt. Wilting signs: footprints that remain in the grass long after being made, bluish-gray appearance, and large proportions of leaf blades that are folded half length-wise.

Irrigation Frequency. Irrigate deeply at long intervals rather than frequent, shallow watering. Deep watering improves drought resistance by promoting deeper, more extensive root systems. Depth of watering should be 6” to 12” for turf and bedding plants, and 12” for perennials, shrubs, and trees. One inch of irrigation wets a sandy soil to a depth of about 12”.

Time of Day. Water early in the morning. Less water loss occurs from evaporation and wind drift in the morning because of cooler temperatures and less wind.

Maintenance. Examine the irrigation system and repair leaks promptly.

Weed Control. Keep weeds under control; weeds steal water from plants.

Fertilization. Don't fertilize or, if you do, do so with a low nitrogen fertilizer. Fertilizer stimulates growth and increases water needs.

Pesticide Application. Avoid unnecessary applications that require ``watering in.''

Cutting Height. Raise the cutting height of turf. Although taller grass uses slightly more water than shorter grass, a higher cutting height promotes deeper rooting and maintains turf quality longer.

Mowing Frequency. Mow less frequently. Mowing stresses the grass plant by increasing respiration and reducing root growth. In addition, never remove more than one-third the length of the blade to prevent too much stress on grass.

Mower Blade. Use a sharp blade when mowing. A sharp mower blade produces a cleaner cut that heals more quickly and loses less water than cuts made by dull blades.

Management Practices for Bedding Plants, Shrubs and Trees

Mulch. Add mulch to beds to reduce evaporation and to moderate soil temperature, reducing stress on roots. Final depth of your mulch should be 3” to 4” after settling.

Irrigation Methods. If possible, don't use overhead sprinklers for shrub and flower beds; hand water, flood irrigate, or use trickle irrigation. Greater water loss can occur with overhead irrigation because of evaporation and wind drift.

Irrigation Frequency. Irrigate trees and shrubs after they start wilting. Drooping leaves and leaf color change are signs of wilting. Many trees and shrubs survive drought without irrigation, providing they are well-established and were irrigated prior to drought.

Shade. Move container plants to shaded areas so their water needs are reduced.

For more information go to: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG026
Coping with Drought in the Landscape.Gary W. Knox. Environmental Horticulture Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date February 1, 1991. Revised March 5, 2002.