‘Will burn the plants’: How to water your plants properly in a heatwave – ‘best practise’

Gardening expert shares tips for growing windowsill crops

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According to experts at Phostrogen®, every plant is comprised of 80 percent water, and the only means of drawing up water and nutrients from the soil is through the roots, meaning proper watering is essential in ensuring they survive. Plants can often suffer during hot weather, and making sure they get enough water is vital. However, the gardening experts have also warned gardeners not to overwater their plants during a heatwave which is a common error made by many.

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The experts explained: “The frequency of watering that’s needed depends on several different factors, such as soil type, weather, season and the type of plants you’re tending to.

“The type of soil in your garden is an important factor in how often you should water your plants.

“Depending on the texture of your soil and whether it is compacted or not, it will have a greater or lesser ability to hold water, which seeps down to the roots.”

There are four main types of soil, and gardeners must know which type they have before deciding on how often to water their plants.

For those with sandy soil, the experts recommended watering it often but a little at a time.

This is because it cannot hold a lot of water.

They added: “Generally speaking, if it is more clay-like, you can freely water with large quantities of water, but less often.

“The ideal soil for watering is silty-clay soil, with a lumpy texture similar to coffee grounds. If your garden doesn’t naturally have this type of soil, you can encourage this texture by regularly adding in some compost and turning it over at the surface with a garden fork from time to time. 

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“It is said that turning over is the equivalent to two watering sessions, but it’s a lot simpler and requires much less effort! 

“Of course, different plants prefer different types of soil and different levels of watering, so it’s all about finding the right plant for the right place in your garden.”

The weather also plays a big factor in how much your plants need watering.

If it is warmer, plants need watering more often.

Phostrogen® added: “To track it accurately and prevent overwatering, install a rain gauge in a clear area of your garden. This simple tool is cheap but very useful.

“Generally speaking, one millimetre of rain represents one litre of water per metre square, so you can measure how much water your plants have already received each day. You may often be surprised when taking water readings from your gauge – heavy rainfall lasting a few minutes often brings less saturation than a fine drizzle that lasts for several hours. 

“Of course, water more regularly during summer months and hot spells. 

“In spring and autumn, water early in the morning, but in the summer, it can be best to wait until the evening as watering during full sun will burn the plants.”

Watering in the hottest part of the day can also lead to lost moisture due to faster evaporation.

When you water, it is vital to ensure all the layers of soil in the root zone are wet.

Gardeners should avoid watering the leaves or flowers as this can damage them.

The experts said: “When it comes to watering, always favour rain water over tap. If possible, install a water butt in your garden to collect the rain – plants much prefer rain water as it isn’t as cold or chlorinated, and it is also much better for the environment.

“Watering the roots and base is best practice, either with a good old watering can, drop system at the base of plants, or a sunken irrigation system for larger areas. Avoid sprinkling or spraying as this uses more water and can encourage the onset of diseases.

“Think about where your plants are positioned. South facing plants are likely to need more water as the direct sun will dry out soil quickly, and remember that some plants and vegetables prefer more water than others. 

“For example, tomatoes and roses are thirsty and require lots of watering, whereas plants such as lavender and poppies and vegetables like asparagus do not – every plant is different.”

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