A newly planted tree six feet tall may need two or three years to develop a good root system in the new location. The larger the tree, the longer it takes. One of the most important things that can be done for it is to water it at least every 10 days during hot, dry summer weather. Neglect in doing it is responsible for more losses than any other cause, according to specialists.
When the tree is planted, a saucer should be prepared around it to hold the water (essentially this is a shallow ditch around the tree). A properly constructed saucer filled with wood chips or some other granular material not only makes watering easy but also conserves soil moisture by preventing runoff and surface evaporation.
In the suburban or home garden, transplanted trees should receive at least 3 inches of water in the saucer every 10 days if there has been inadequate rain. For trees in the inner city, struggling against inadequate soil volume and the reflected heat from pavement end building walls, watering on a weekly basis is desirable.
When watering is done hose in hand and there is no saucer, it is unlikely that enough will be applied. It would take two of three hours to do a good job and not many gardeners realize it or have the patience to do it.
Trees need an incredible amount of water during the warm months. From 80 to 95 percent of the moisture passes through the tree and is lost by evaporation from the leaves. A young apple tree loses approximately 380 gallons of water during an average growing season of 188 days. Some trees in the South may lose 50 to 100 gallons of water in a single day. Large shade trees may lose 1,000 gallons of water during the season, according to research.
Plants growing outdoors in tubs, window boxes, pots and other containers also need regular watering during hot, dry weather. If they don't get it, they will wilt and die. If they get too much, or drainage is poor, they may be seriously damaged.
Soil in containers will dry out faster than the soil in the garden. The soil surface and the sides of the container are all exposed and subject to quich drying.
The smaller the container, the more frequent the need for water (and fertilizer). A petunia should have at least a 6-inch pot, a regular tomato a 5-gallon container and a rose bush a 12-inch tub. A bushel basket is an acceptable substitute for the tomato and rose.
During hot weather the soil dries out rapidly, and the foliage loses water faster than the roots can replace it. High humidity tends to reduce wilting, and humidity can be increased by sprinkling the foliage with water frequently.
If wilting is rapid and acute, it may cause immediate death of the plant. se of wooden tubs for containers and tree bark for mulching can reduce the need for watering and also reduce wilting.