How to look after plants in hot weather

This is a guide we never thought we’d have to write – how to help British plants get through a drought! Normal conditions for UK gardens include muddy, waterlogged and soggy, but this summer’s soaring temperatures have meant we’ve got the opposite problem for once. Water can be at a premium, so we’ve put together some tips on how to make the most of using less water and keep your plants healthy and happy.

Credit: Pixabay

Water irregularly

This might seem a bit of an odd one, but giving plants small amounts of water on a regular basis means they come to ‘expect’ it and they don’t need to put down deep roots. Watering less frequently but giving more water at a time is more beneficial, as it will encourage them to put down deeper roots and makes them less susceptible to drought. Young plants are more likely to be able to adapt to this routine than established plants.

Look out for sunburn

This is particularly important if you’re growing vegetables. Keep young veggies out of the sun by using shade cloth, rigging up a tarpaulin to provide some cover or pulling the leaves of the parent plant over them. After watering, you can also spread a thick layer of organic mulch (5cm or so) onto flower beds to stop the moisture evaporating.

Be careful not to water in the middle of the day or strong sunlight may scorch petals or leaves. Credit: Pixabay

Pick your time

It’s best to water either first thing in the morning or last thing at night, when the sun has moved away from flowerbeds. Spraying water onto plants in the middle of the day is not only a bit pointless, as the water evaporates before it can do much good, it can also damage leaves. The water droplets act like little magnifying glasses and can cause the leaves to burn. Before you water at all, touch the soil and see if it feels damp. If it does, you can probably put off watering for another day or so.

Show your lawn some tough love

If you have a well-established lawn, don’t worry if it turns brown. It will quickly perk up again once we have some rain, so battling to keep it looking green and lush can be a waste of time and water. If you’re still mowing, then don’t cut the grass too short or it may get scorched.

Be savvy with water

Your rain water butt may not be much in use at the moment, but if you can try and save household water for plants. Wash up in a bowl rather than in the sink, and tip the used water into a watering can afterwards. You can also recycle bath water and the water used for scrubbing vegetables in the same way.

Take pot luck

Moving potted plants into the shade mean they’ll be able to retain water more efficiently. You can buy ‘drip waterers’ which consist of a reservoir bulb at the top of a hollow stalk. You can fill these and fix them into pots for a narrow but steady supply of water. You can buy ‘moisture beads’ which, dug into the soil, absorb water and gradually release it back into the pot to keep it moist. Covering the top of the pot with a layer of gravel will help to slow down evaporation.

Credit: Pixabay

And do remember that once you’ve done all your hard work of looking after the garden, you are allowed to crack out a deckchair and sit down in it for a bit – preferably with a cold drink!

All images (c) Pixabay 2022




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