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Watering tropical plants with drip irrigation

 
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phoenixtropicals
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Joined: 06 May 2008
Posts: 1178
Location: Mesa Arizona

PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:04 pm    Post subject: Watering tropical plants with drip irrigation Reply with quote

Following is a copy of an email thread I was involved in:

Hey this is B., you helped me get the guava earlier today.

I remember when we did the diagram those two spots you said would be good.. but was that when you thought the backyard was south facing? because its north facing.. I was thinking it might not get enough sun, espically in the winter when the house would block the sun most of the day,... what do you think about the west retaining brick wall (east facing) next to my banana and canna plants.. would that help it with frost? or do you still think next to the house would be the better option?

| --------- | here is a example of my backyard, with the ---'s being the back of my house and the |'s being the side brick walls... what do you think? would you still say the north east corner of the house? or the north west corner? (my bananas are up against the west wall)

Thanks!


Hmmm. Well, guavas don't need a huge amount of sun to flower. In fact I have a guava that is boxed in so that it only gets about 4 hours of direct sun a day and it still fruits. So, I think you should still go for the east side of the house.

So I planted the guava on the east side of the house like you said. so it gets early morning sun then at 1pm the sun hits the top of my house and starts to shade the planting area

Probably 4-5hours of direct sun, think that's good enough? I also placed the COTRG about 5 feet away from it on the same side (next to the house, instead of next to the brick retaining wall)

Also I was thinking of just having one 2GPH drip emitter on the guava and 1GPH on the cherry due to their size and the fact they probably wont need as much water because they only get sun until 1pm, with my mangos and the newly planted apple since they are dead center of my backyard and get full sun all day I have 2 x 2GPH emitters giving them 4GPH. Do you think thats a good idea, or would the guava need more than 2gph. (I typically water 2-3 hours twice a week in the midst of summer)


The planting areas sound good.

The watering frequency of twice a week sounds good for now. You'll want to do 3 times in summer and once per. week in winter. If you can't increase your watering frequency for fear of overwatering other plants on the same line you'll want to increase the rate at which water comes out on your high use plants. For example, if you can't go to 3 times a week in summer I'd double your rates on those particular plants.

As for the amount of water, let me do my math for your current rates.

Guava
2GPH x 3 hours = 6 gallon

CRG
1 GPH x 3 hours = 3 gallons

Mango and Apple
4 GPH x 3 hours = 12 gallons

Hmmmm. I'd go for at least twice the GPH for all plants here. I know that 12 gallons seems like a lot but its really not. Turn your garden hose on and you go can through 12 gallons in minutes. Imagine how much water it would take to flood a small basin around your plant in a half hour and you should be able to get an idea.

So to summarize:

now = 2 times per. week, double watering rate
summer = 3 times per. week, double watering rates OR 2 time per. week, quadruple watering rates

Keep in mind. Drip is best suited to low water use plants. When people put citrus and other higher water use plants on drip, they end up putting lots and lots of emitters under them.

Good luck.


My major issue is when the landscapers installed the backyard gravel and shrubs they installed everything on my existing zone (front yard plants and backyard plants now use one zone)

so do you think I should keep it at twice a week or three times a week?

and by doubling the rates do you mean doubling the time it runs? so for instance the mango's are getting 4GPH total with the two emitters, so by doubling it you mean run it 6 hours totaling 24 gallons? and since they are on the same zone this means my shrubs with their 1GPH will be getting 6 gallons every time they are watered.

or would you suggest just adding a higher GPH drip emitters on the trees which require higher watering rate? like my citrus, apple, mango, guava, and possibly bananas

heres a break down of the emitters in the backyard
Shrubs (rosemary, and torch glow bogunvillas) - 1GPH
Cherry Rio Grande - 1GPH
Plumeria (not sure if its even rooted yet) - 1GPH
Small Sago - 1GPH
Citrus - 4GPH (with my second smaller citrus tree at 3GPH)
Mango - 4GPH
Banana, and Giant Canna - 3GPH
Guava - 2GPH

Front yard is pretty minimal with a large native tree (not sure the type, the leaves smell peppery and really fragrant) on 4GPH, a pine tree on 2GPH and the rest are shrubs


Yes, I would recommend adding higher GPH emmiters so you don't overwater your other plants. By the way, bougainvillas and rosemary can live on almost no supplemental water at all. I water those two by hand only in summer when it doesn't rain for a month. I just give them a big soak with the garden hose, and once again only when its been like 105 for a month with no rain. They are very tough.

If you have something like lantana. Yes, they need more water in the summer.

Reading of this thread I noticed something else. You have the citrus and plumeria on the same zone with the high water use plants like guavas and bananas. Both citrus and plumeria like to dry out between waterings unlike the other tropicals. I think you should try to put those on a different zone. I only water citrus and plumerias once a week in summer. More frequent watering of those two will make them sick. If making a new zone is too much of a hassle, you could turn off the automated watering of them and water them by hand. You would only need to hand water the citrus about every 3-4 weeks in winter and once a week in summer. The plumeria watering frequency would be like the citrus in the summer and nothing for it in the winter when its dormant.

Thinking even more, having a plumeria in the ground in Maricopa might be too much of a hassle. They are very frost sensitive. I think you should just go for having it as a potted plant. You can just overwinter it in the garage or house that way.


hmm yeah thats a good idea, I might just pull the plumeria then and pot it up.. as for the citrus you dont think it will get along fine if i just up the GPH emitters to double the rate then water twice a week as planned?

Twice a week is lots for a citrus. It might live but it won't be healthy. Mature leaves on a healthy citrus should be fairly dark green leaves. Frequent watering will make a tree pale, stunt its growth etc.
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GermanStar



Joined: 17 Jun 2010
Posts: 117
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ

PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, really good info.

I just planted a fire bush (Hamelia patens) about a week ago. Nice 5-gallon plants at Home Depot for $12. Any idea how long before I'm able to reduce watering from every day? I know it's not a good time of year to place such a thirsty plant in the ground, but I couldn't resist. Also, should I water before it starts wilting, as a response to wilting, or does it really matter? We're going for maximum downward root growth here in short order, right? Goodness, we got well over half an inch of rain last night, and by 1:00 PM today, it's wilting again. I was really surprised.
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phoenixtropicals
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Location: Mesa Arizona

PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not familiar with firebush, but most plants do better with water every other day rather than every day. When you water every day you turn the soil into muck which is hard on most plants. Since you just planted it during a hot time of the year, I recommend giving it some shade until it gets its roots established. Usually placing a lawn chare right next to it on its southwest side will do it. As time goes on you can move the chair further away until it is in full sun. Put some big rocks or bricks on the legs of the chair so it doesn't get blown around in the wind.
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GermanStar



Joined: 17 Jun 2010
Posts: 117
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ

PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm surprised you're not familiar -- seems right up your ally. Beautiful drought-resistant tropical. From reading more online, it seems the flower wilting thing I'm experiencing isn't that unusual, particularly considering it isn't established yet. The general consensus is 'better wilted than over-watered'. I'll just live with the wilt and water every other day and see how it goes. I like your shade idea, but I have no practical means of executing. Hopefully, roots will establish within a few short weeks.

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GermanStar



Joined: 17 Jun 2010
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Location: Fountain Hills, AZ

PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hooray for monsoon season! Between sporadic cloud cover, some humidity and my Fire Bush settling in and laying down some roots, it's now gone 2 whole days without water, and it isn't wilted! I water 1.5 hours Mon & Thurs, so all it has to do is manage one more day to be on its own on the drip system.
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phoenixtropicals
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes. Its a real relief when it starts raining and cools down some. A lot of people complain about the humidity, but I don't mind it as much as the 115 degree temps, even though its 104 with humidity its still cooler. The plants like the humid stuff more too.
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GermanStar



Joined: 17 Jun 2010
Posts: 117
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ

PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, my poor Fire Bush was trying to come back from repeated animal attacks, and was doing pretty well, when I awoke yesterday to discover it had been nearly completely defoliated by a rabbit or wood rat again. I'm so discouraged and disgusted by the adversity involved in maintaining a nice yard here. Sad

I'm giving up on the Fire Bush, it has one decent branch left, but I'll have this every year, since frost tends to burn 'em to the ground to start over in Spring. IOW, it will likely never grow tall enough to escape the animals that attack it, though it certainly would in Florida, where it's evergreen.

I think I'll stop by Big Box later this week, and replace it with a Pomegranate. They have a few 5-gallon plants about 3-4' tall. By next summer it should be well out of harm's way, don't you think? The spot is about 5-6' behind a San Pedro cactus, so I wont mind the winter dormancy.
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phoenixtropicals
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I forget were you live. We don't have the rodent problems here in Mesa.
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GermanStar



Joined: 17 Jun 2010
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Location: Fountain Hills, AZ

PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in the part of Fountain Hills that requires residents to maintain 1/3 of our property as natural desert. That part of my property abuts my yard, and lies about 5' from the Fire Bush. The separation of landscaped yard/natural desert is provided by a wrought iron pool fence, so wood rats have easy access, and rabbits, which might be terrified to enter my yard proper (two big dogs and all the smells that go with 'em), have no qualms about entering the periphery where the Fire Bush resides. It's really a shame, I swear, it's about the most beautiful plant I've ever seen. The pic I posted above isn't just a seasonal flower shot -- they look at least that good all the time.

Probably not the best time to plant a Pomegranate, what do you think, will it help to get it settled in before winter dormancy?
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phoenixtropicals
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not an expert on pomegranites, but I think this would be a good time of year to plant it. Its one of the best times of year to plant just about anything, granted the temps. don't go to 111 again.
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GermanStar



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Location: Fountain Hills, AZ

PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hooray! Pomegranates (I have two different varieties) not only survived our harsh winter (yes, I have declared an end to sub-freezing temps this year), they started leafing out about a week ago. That's just barely deciduous, 10 months on, 2 months off seems a pretty fair deal.
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