How and when to water plants is always an issue, and one of the most common basic questions about Thuja Green Giant, and almost every other garden plant as well. It is said that in Japan an apprentice gardener had to work for 7 years before being allowed to water plants, so if you find it a tough issue, no wonder!
Thuja Green Giant is certainly a sturdy and reliable evergreen, but it too needs the right amounts of water, at the right times, so let’s take a look at the issues around watering properly, to have the greatest success.
Watering Before Planting
Good planting is the key to success with almost all plants, and Thuja Green Giant is no exception. When it comes to watering, there are two key things to keep in mind, and to do. The first ‘rule’ is never to plant a dry tree. If the root ball inside the pot is dry, the roots exposed to the air when you take off the pot will quickly dry, and they can die. As well, a dry root-ball can repel water, so it is easy for it to still be dry after you have planted – something that should definitely be avoided.
The best way to make sure these problems don’t happen is to water your plants, in their pots, thoroughly the evening before you are planning to plant them. Just give each pot a thorough soaking, allowing plenty of water to flow through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. If the plant is very dry, even that may not be enough, as a dry root-ball will shrink away from the pot, allowing water to flow through without wetting the soil much at all. If you think your plants are very dry, then take a large bucket, fill it ¾ with water, and place the plant and pot into the bucket. It may float for a while, but don’t worry, soon it will sink and become thoroughly wet. After 15 minutes to half an hour, lift it out, allowing the water to flow back into the bucket, and then place it on the ground to finish draining. Repeat as necessary until all your plants are properly wetted. Good job!
Watering During Planting
Now you have good moist root-balls, you are ready to plant. Here too, some people make the mistake of waiting to water until they are all finished. Then a quick splash with a hose is all that happens. No, there is a better way. You want to have the water deep in the soil, around the root-ball, to attract those roots outwards. So when you have put back about 2/3 thirds of the soil, firm it down around the roots, and then fill the hole to the top with water. Wait for that to drain away, and then put back the rest of the soil. You really don’t need to water again, unless the soil you are planting into is very dry. So no muddy puddles, just a neat finish to your planting, and plenty of water where it is needed.
Watering After Planting
Follow-up watering is vital for the successful establishment of your new Thuja Green Giant, and there are several factors to consider.
- Time of year – if you are planting in spring, the warm weather and rapid growth of your plants means regular watering is needed. Once a week should do it. If you plant in summer, make that twice a week. If you plant in fall or winter, you may not need to water at all, although if you don’t see much rain, soaking every couple of weeks is worthwhile.
- Type of soil – if you have sandy soil it will not hold much water, and it will dry fast (you probably already have experienced this!). You should increase the frequency of watering new plants accordingly. For example, newly planted trees in sandy soil in summer may need water every second day for the first couple of weeks, and then twice weekly for the first month. At the other end, don’t be fooled by clay soil. Although it looks sticky and wet, it becomes effectively dry to plants quicker than a loam soil does. Clay will bake hard and crack, which you don’t want, so keep to a good watering schedule with it.
- Weather conditions – this one is just common sense. If you have unusually hot weather, you need to water more frequently.
So here is what to do: Water once a week for the first two months – allowing extra or less based on the points just raised. Then reduce that to every two weeks for the rest of the first growing season. In the second season, water whenever the soil looks dry for the top few inches. Don’t be tricked by thunderstorms and sudden downpours of rain, as these often only wet the top inch, and most of the water simply runs away into the drains.
How to Water
Now you know when to do it, here is how. Water should always be applied slowly, so although standing with a hosepipe spraying water can feel like a ‘good deed’, it is not very effective. Much better is to place a trickling hose a few inches from the base of your plants, and let it run for a while. The water will spread outwards, but more importantly, downwards, and everything will be well-soaked. Not only is this better for your plants, but you use less water too, as hand-sprays lose a surprising amount of water to evaporation, especially on a hot, dry day. When it comes to watering, slow and steady always wins out.
If you have a hedge, this method can take some time, so invest in a length of leaky pipe. This low-cost piping sheds water all along its length, and it can be coiled around and along a row of plants and left in place. Simply connect it to a hosepipe and turn it on for as long as it takes for the whole area to look wet. Once you have an idea how long it takes for your particular situation, you can install a simple timer on the tap, and it will do the job once a week without you having to do anything at all – what could be simpler?