Abnormal dryness impacting gardeners

Laura Stine, owner of Laura Stine Gardens says to dig into the soil around plants to test for dryness.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Many parts of Northeast Indiana are experiencing abnormal dryness, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

The Allen County Purdue Extension horticulture educator Ricky Kemery said if plants aren’t watered properly, they’ll suffer or badly or die. He said that watering plants during dry seasons is like a mystery for many people.

“When I was at Purdue University, I worked in the greenhouses and horticulture gardens and the biggest challenge was to teach people how to water,” he said.

He said often people don’t give their plants enough water and sometimes even overcompensate by giving them too much water. He said he likes to dig around the plant and find out how long it takes for water to moisten the soil at the root of the plant.

“For a lawn, you have to dig down about three inches and you water as long as it takes to get the soil moist at three inches and you don’t water again until it dries out,” he said.

Kemery said if the area’s abnormal dryness continues into August, then things could really get bad for plants. For now he rates his concern as a five or six out of 10 and doesn’t want it to get any worse.

Laura Stine, the owner of Laura Stine Gardens, said her plants have been drying up faster than usual. She said watering is critical and emphasizes that to her clients.

“There’s nothing you’re going to do with your plants – the fertilizing, the pruning – none of that is as critical right now as the watering is,” she said. “That’s what’s going to keep your plants alive.”

She explained that it’s important to give plants proper soaking. She likes to turn her hose to about a quarter of the force and lay it by the base of the plant until it’s properly soaked. For larger plants like shrubs and trees, this can take up to 10 minutes.

Another tip Stine gave was to stick to growing plants that are native to Northeast Indiana. They don’t dry up as fast because they’re use to the area’s climate.


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