Home Gardening techniques What’s the best way to water plants in summer?

What’s the best way to water plants in summer?

Shallow rooting is disastrous
Shallow rooting is disastrous in a heatwave

How these simple techniques can help your garden survive heat and drought

Should your plants be watered when it’s hottest or when it’s cooler in the evening? Stuart Thompson, senior lecturer in Plant Biochemistry at the University of Westminster has these words of wisdom…

“Plants can go through several times their own weight in water on a sunny day. Therefore, to keep them happy, you will need to water them a lot.

“Plants planted in the soil in the garden will benefit most if they are well watered in the morning or evening when the water will be able to permeate down into the soil allowing the plants’ deep roots to absorb it when it is needed.

“Avoid watering in full sun if you can because the water will evaporate before it can properly wet the soil and reach the roots.

Newly potted on Aloe vera and Echeveria
Newly potted on Aloe vera and Echeveria

Scorching leaves

“The common belief that water drops can act like magnifying glasses and scorch leaves if they are wet seems to be incorrect.

“The only exception is perhaps leaves with hairs that could hold the drops far enough away from the leaf for rays to be focused on the leaf surface.

“However, potted plants won’t have a large reservoir of water and may use it all very quickly.

“It would be wise to move them into the shade if you can. Otherwise, you may have to water them several times during the day.

Pan-fried Sempervivum
Pan-fried Sempervivum

Water temperature

“Some people believe that warm water is better for plants and it may have benefits in cooler weather, but unless the water coming out of your taps is very cold (cold enough to be uncomfortable for you to put your hand into it), water from the cold water tap will be fine in this weather.

“Plants have systems to reduce their water loss, which are very effective in species from arid environments where light is intense, such as succulents and yuccas, and so these will need less care.

“Pay more attention to shade plants and those from cooler or damper areas which will be less well adapted to hot weather.

“Breeding to improve fruit quality in some horticultural crops, such as tomatoes and peppers, has made their water preserving mechanisms work less well and so these may also dry out quickly.”

For more information on the university, visit www.westminster.ac.uk.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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