Gardening in a Drought

Gardening, Home & Family
on May 21, 2014
Dry red clay soil texture, natural floor background

During times of drought, it can be difficult to ensure that plants get the water they need to survive, much less thrive. The key to keeping your garden looking its best is knowing the different roles that roots and leaves play in the absorption and release of water.

RootsAlmost all of the water that a plant needs is absorbed through its roots. Loose, friable soil and consistent moisture are vital to a good root system. One way to obtain this in your garden is to dig down with a garden fork to break up hard-packed soil. Mix organic matter such as compost, shredded leaves and peat moss into the soil to create more pore spaces for air and moisture. Cover the soil surface with mulch to reduce evaporation and to help maintain consistent moisture. In planters, use a light, soil-less mix containing peat, vermiculite and perlite. Enrich the mix with 25 to 30 percent compost to help retain moisture and provide slow-release nutrients.

LeavesWater that a plant absorbs through its roots is released through microscopic pores in its leaves called stomates. This circulation of water through the plant is called transpiration. It governs the flow of nutrients and also helps a plant cool itself in hot weather. Though you don't want to impede transpiration, you can reduce water loss by shielding plants from hot, windy conditions.

By giving plants water when and where they really need it, you'll save water and keep your garden and container plants looking happy and healthy all season long.

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