Using Watering Wands

As the weather heats up, so does the need for watering. As a gardening professional, I can’t help looking at yards and plantings in area neighborhoods as I pass through. I find it amusing to see how different people approach gardening.

One thing that drives me crazy, however, is when I see someone who has created a beautiful flowerbed or vegetable garden watering it with a sprinkler or hand-held sprayer. Sometimes I feel like pulling over and explaining to the how bad this is for the plants. I know that it is only done out of ignorance. Somehow the idea of “refreshing” the plants by spraying them with water is very appealing to most people. Plus we’ve all seen those ads on TV that show the nice folks at some garden shop misting the flowers. While it creates a lovely visual effect, it is one of the worst possible things you can do to your plantings.

Remember, plants absorb moisture (along with needed nutrients) with their roots to replace moisture lost by the leaves through evaporation. When you wet the leaves, the plant won’t be able to evaporate moisture until the leaves dry. Worst of all, you are creating a perfect environment for fungal diseases to incubate and take hold when you wet the foliage during warm weather. Problems with vegetables that flower but but don’t get any fruit can often be traced to spray watering. The spray washes away the pollen that the bees need to distribute to other flowers. No pollen, no fruit.

There is no reason to “spray water” and many reasons not to. The only acceptable way to water is with a “watering wand” or soaker hose that waters the soil but won’t get the leaves wet. So if you want healthier plants, more flowers and fruit, stop spraying the plants and start watering the soil.