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Watering Do's and Don'ts

Save time and energy by dialling down the need to water your garden and avoid the usual pitfalls of watering wrongly and causing more harm than good.

DON'T assume your garden needs to be regularly watered just because it's hot. Frequent watering causes roots to grow up the surface meaning they miss the opportunity to put down deep roots and become better anchored and stronger plants. This is particularly true if you just run the hose over the garden quickly and wet the top few centimetres of soil.

DO water newly planted plants and young plants once a week and keep an eye on them during dry spells. There are a few reasons they need more water but the main one is to plump up the roots with hydration as they will have dried out in the pot and to mingle the pot compost with the garden soil to encourage those hydrated roots to explore and attach.

DON'T sprinkle water over plants during hot, sunny spells. The water droplets act like a magnifying glass and the sun will create scorch marks and this can kill the plant. Water in the evening as the sun goes down, if you need to water while the sun is beating down then water the soil, not the leaves.

how to water plants

DO water plants immediately when you see any sign of wilt. This will be obvious with drooping flower heads and leaves curling up. Ignore the usual advice to only water on hot days first thing in the morning or late in the evening. Just drench the soil around that plant immediately. Don't wait until the optimum time. Add extra water every hour until the wilt corrects.

save a wilting plant

DO group your plants according to water preference to avoid soaking plants who will resent having their feet wet. Plants such as Lavender adore the dry, arid, dusty soil of the South of France and will rarely if ever want to be watered. A rule of thumb is the more vibrant green the leaves are the more water they need. Leafy plants such as Helenium require far more water than their Mediterranean counterparts. The paler and more silvery the leaf the more suited to dryer conditions.

Summing up, do water new and young plants to help them establish deep root systems and any plant showing wilt, when you do break out the hosepipe, water the soil by properly drenching it, best done as the sun goes down. Don't bother watering anything that is doing fine without it, they have created deep roots to access the water table and wetting the topsoil will encourage them to root upwards which is undesirable. Voila. Now we just hope for a long hot dry summer.

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