It is hot, and as Summer progresses it is only going to get hotter. During this period it is very important to make sure you're watering your plants properly. Good watering habits will also help make the most of every precious drop.
Test the soil with your finger. Poke down a few inches near the stem to check the root zone. You can also use a soil moisture meter. Even if the surface seems dry, there may still be moisture below. If not, get the hose!
Watering in the morning is best. This will allow the water to soak in before it evaporates from heat and dry wind, allows the leaves time to dry out if they get splashed, and plants will have the moisture to draw from during the heat of the day. Late afternoon is second best, just be sure the foliage will dry out before night-time. Avoid watering in the heat of the day because water will evaporate much faster and any overspray on the leaves can cause them to burn.
Water at the base of the plant with a watering wand, long-neck watering can. Avoid getting the leaves, fruits, or vegetables wet to help prevent diseases that thrive on moisture, such as powdery mildew.
Wind dries out plants quickly from moisture lost through the foliage—the larger the leaves, the more moisture lost (think squash, cucumber, coral bells, etc.). Protect plants with barriers, such as a structure made with insect netting or shade cloth, or locate them out of wind-prone areas.
Fruits and vegetables need consistent water to produce well. Don't let them go completely dry before watering them again because this can cause problems like blossom end rot or cracked tomatoes. Learn more about caring for tomatoes on our blog.
Containers dry out much faster than the ground and will need more frequent watering, especially if they are placed in full sun or exposed to wind.
Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch, such as bark, pine needles, or shredded leaves. This will help hold moisture in the soil.
If water puddles on top of the soil, apply a small amount to soften the surface. Come back a few minutes later and add more to make sure it soaks in thoroughly.
Brown leaf edges and/or yellow leaves can signal over-watering. Make sure you're checking before adding more.
Plants benefit much more from a slow and deep watering than a quick splash. Make sure you’re watering deep enough to reach the root ball.
If summer vacation is going to keep you away for more than a day or two, setting up an automatic timer will be well worth the effort. Henleaze Garden Shop sell these, come and check out our Hozelock section. Also consider using self watering pots for your container plants to cut down on daily watering chores.
Recycle plastic bottles as a deep watering system. Poke holes in the bottle and bury next to plants with the top opening exposed. Add water to the bottle through the top and the water will leach out deeper into the soil.
Unglazed clay pots are more porous than glazed or plastic pots and allow water to evaporate faster. This may be good during wetter times of the year by allowing the soil to drain better and not get soggy, but keep an extra eye on them during drought or hotter weather.