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How to Water and Refresh Your Potted Plants Over the Summer

As we move into the full swing of summer, temperatures climb and container gardens often need a little extra care to stay looking fresh. Watering is key for container garden care, and when and how you water make a difference.

For potted displays that have been going since spring, now’s a good time to do a bit of editing. Pull out annuals that are past their prime and replace them with foliage plants or perennials to give containers an instant boost.

These 10 tips will help keep your container gardens looking lush, full and healthy throughout the hottest period of the year.

1. Get Your Watering Schedule Down

Potted plants dry out more quickly than those in the ground, so it’s important to keep a consistent watering schedule. How often to water potted plants depends on a number of factors: your climate, the size of the pot, the type of plants and whether the pot is in sun or shade.

As a general rule of thumb, water when the top few inches of soil feel dry — typically about twice a week in summer. The best time to water plants is in the coolest time of day — early in the morning or in the evening — to prevent water loss through evaporation.

Heat wave tip: What if you’ve come home to a completely shriveled plant? Don’t worry — we’ve all been there, and it can happen in a blink of an eye during a heat wave. Soak the soil with water and keep your fingers crossed. Many wilt-prone summer annuals, like lobelia and calibrachoa, will spring right back after a deep soak.

2. Use Plant Trays

The saucers that go under potted plants do more than just protect your deck from water stains. They also act as a backup water reservoir for thirsty plants. Water pooled in the saucer can be soaked up by plants in need of a drink.

You can fill planter saucers with water to give plants a moisture buffer. Just make sure the plants aren’t sitting in water for extended periods of time.

3. Add Drip Irrigation

Hooking up potted plants or window boxes to a drip irrigation system set on a timer is the easiest way to make sure your plants don’t dry out. Use the smallest drip tubing for containers (one-eighth of an inch) and make sure each container has two to five emitters, depending on container size. Hook up the line to a smart timer on the hose bib, and you’re all set for the season.