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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Watering tropical plants during droughts

Here is a photo taken today of my pink velvet banana (Musa velutina). If you look at the picture of it in a previous banana post, you can see the growth rate has been phenomenal! However, all good growing seasons must come to an end, and soon the temperature of the soil should drop low enough to slow the growth down (many years it would have already). I'll show you in a future post how to "winterize" the plant after the first frost browns the leaves.

Most of the eastern United States is experiencing a terrible drought (it's been over 30 days since appreciable rain fall at my house). During these times it's important to water tropicals regularly! While most semitropical and tropical plants can handle a few days without water, longer spells will kill them.

Plants with large tropical leaves such as bananas create large evaporation surfaces, making watering at least twice a week mandatory during droughts. You don't have to run a sprinkler on them for hours, just hold a hose around the base of the plant for a few minutes to thoroughly wet the soil several inches deep. The mulch around the plant will help retain the moisture.

One method I use for determining if I'm watering enough is to check under the much 48 hours after watering: if there's still moisture in the soil, I'm watering enough!

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