Top plant watering tips
With the summer upon us, ensuring that your plants are properly watered and hydrated is more important than ever. During the hottest period of the year, forgetting to water the plants or watering them incorrectly can result in your plants drying up and dying, leaving you with a garden full of discoloured and dead plants – something you surely want to avoid! Although it’s sometimes possible to revitalise a badly damaged plant, the best solution is to care for your plants attentively so that you never have to face this eventuality. One of the biggest concerns of gardening enthusiasts is whether or not they are watering their plants correctly, so don’t feel alone if this includes you! Here are some of the ways you can ensure your plants live healthily and flourish, giving you a beautiful garden to admire on a hot summer’s day.
1) Check the soil
Before deciding to water your plants, it’s essential to manually check the moisture levels of the soil. Don’t fret – you don’t need a top-end gadget to do this. Simply perform the squeeze test, as pictured here, to determine whether your soil is too dry, just right or too wet. If the soil crumbles in your hand, it’s too dry. If it is moist and easily malleable then it is too wet. But if the soil holds together in your hand but you’re still able to form it into a loose ball, then the moisture levels are just right.
2) Morning is best
Plant roots tend to absorb the most water during the morning, especially before the day reaches it’s peak temperature during the middle of the afternoon. Giving your plants a sufficient watering before the hottest point in the day enables them to stay hydrated during the heat. If watering in the morning is not possible, the afternoon is the second best option, but generally you should try to avoid watering in the evening as this can result in the occurrence of fungal diseases. Use common sense however – if your plants are dry during the evening then don’t hesitate to give them some water.
3) Feed the roots
Aim to pour water as closely to the surface of the soil as possible in order to feed the roots – don’t apply water to the leaves! Not only can wet leaves increase the chances of your plants getting burnt during the summer sun, but it can also increase the chances of fungal diseases. When applying water to the soil, try to ensure that the soil is nice and damp, but not completely waterlogged. Ironically, if there is too much water in the soil then the plant roots will struggle to absorb it!
4) Know thy plant!
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to water deep and infrequently but never allow your plants to dry up too much. That being said, different plants have different watering requirements. For example, cacti have evolved to survive in arid environments and can store water for long periods of time, meaning you can water them a lot less frequently than typical foliage. Your garden store representative should be able to advise you on how regularly you should water the specific type of plants you are choosing to grow.
Mulching is a great way to prevent the spread of weeds in your garden, but it’s also an effective method for reducing soil evaporation – keeping your plants hydrated for longer. Spreading a layer of fine grass cuttings (or other materials such as small rocks) over your soil with a spade during the spring will help to ensure your plant beds don’t dry out too rapidly when the scorching summer hits. Mulching during the winter is also viable in order to protect your plant roots from the cold and frost.
(Photo by Michaela Kobyakov)