When to start watering

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Sat, 05 Oct 2002 20:11:31 PDT
Dear All,

Several years ago I remember a discussion on the IBS forum about when to start watering winter growing bulbs. This is relevant to those of us in California who live in a Mediterranean climate that gets absolutely no rain at all during the summer. We last had rain where I live in May and there is none forecast yet. Southern California had had even less. As Lee Poulsen has pointed out not all Mediterranean climates are alike. Most get some water year round, but just the majority of it in the winter. I remember Lauw telling me in France he gets fall rain, then a break and then rain again. Only Chile also doesn't get rain in summer.

When this was discussed before Mike Mace told us that he thought a lot of things did better if he started watering in August. This would make sense if what you were growing came from areas that got late summer or early fall rainfall. By now all pots left to dry out are bone dry and the first attempts at watering the water goes right through the pot. Jim Duggan told us that he had experimented and found it made no difference and October was soon enough to start.

Remembering our early discussion from UK members about levels of light I wonder if how much light you will get in winter is a factor. In Southern California where they would be more light than in the Pacific Northwest perhaps you wouldn't need as long a growing period for things to thrive.

I have never had any luck getting fall blooming Crocus to survive in my garden and I wonder if this is because the rains come too late and it is too dry. One blooms in winter (C. kotschyanus) however.

When does everyone start to water? I usually start my South Africans before my natives and am not really sure when to start watering the plants from Chile. Some Mediterranean basin plants are growing well already so they have been watered. As I repot even some of my natives that are in dry soil have new roots, but we are always told to wait to water them until the weather is cool.

Those of you from colder climates who grow tender things in green houses, when do you start watering?

Mary Sue

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