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  • Whether you believe in climate change or not, the weather patterns are becoming increasingly turbulent. Whether it be flooding or extremes in temperature. Here in the UK this week we are in the middle of a heatwave with scorching temperatures reaching 36 degrees! There's a lot of myths around how and when to water plants. So I thought it about time to debunk these gardening myths and help your plants survive the heatwave.

    Watering a garden can be a time consuming and sometimes thankless task. In a heatwave, it is essential to efficiently water your plants to stop them from wilting, getting stressed or dying due to exhaustion. Before you reach for the sprinkler and set your alarm for 5 am, you may want to read this guide to watering plants first!

    Myth 1: Watering in full sun will burn plants leaves

    The first myth to debunk is that watering plants during a heatwave will create droplets on leaves that turn into mini magnifying glasses. Scorching and burning the leaves. This on the most part is false. Plants survive quite happily in the wild with sun showers. They are not that delicate to frazzle during a shower followed by sun.

    Plants won’t get frazzled by wet leaves in the sun – they are far more resilient!

    Myth 2: You should only water either at dawn or dusk

    Another half myth perpetuated by the misconception that somehow plants roots will rise up and get scorched in the sun. Ideally, you want to water when plants are at their optimum condition to actively take up water. In the early morning and late evening plants are transpiring (using water) far slower) yes it is true you should try and water at these times.

    However, its a myth that you can only water at these times. If you need to water in the midday sun then you can. Of course, more of this water will evaporate and you will need far more for the plant to take it up given the sped of its transpiration is increased in full sun. It’s not technically true that watering in the middle of the day will harm plants.

    If a plant needs water and is wilting then water straight away – don’t wait until dusk or dawn!

    Myth 3: A fine mist will cool plants down

    Unless you’re working in a controlled greenhouse with a misting system this is pretty much useless. Covering plants and flower beds with a fine mist of water will simply evaporate. Yes, it may slow down transpiration in plants (the method of water being taken up by the roots, distributed around the plants then released via leaf stomata) but in an open environment is highly inefficient in a heatwave.

    A hose or watering can is fine; always water as close to the base as possible (A friend can help ensure the hose doesn’t crush other plants! #RHSTatton #Sunshinegarden

    Myth 4: Sprinklers are the most efficient method of watering plants

    Another falsity. Sprinklers are only efficient in terms of time spent standing manually watering. They are actually incredibly inefficient, especially in a heatwave. They water indiscriminately wetting leaves, paths and surrounding lawn areas.

    Sprinklers may save you time but are really inefficient at watering plants

    How to water plants properly

    Ok so we’ve debunked the myths but how should you water plants? This may sound incredibly obvious but there is a very clear correct efficient way vs the usual ‘let’s just soak anything’ method that most new gardeners use.

    The best way to water a plant in a heatwave and at any other time is to water as closely to the roots as possible. Giving the plant a thorough soaking. It’s better to water thoroughly once a week than a drizzle every day which just encourages shallow rooting in plants.

    I use a 5-second rule with a watering can or hose. Watering each plant at the base for at least 5 seconds. This means the plant has the best chance of taking up that water. Spraying the entire bed for a few minutes is largely a waste of time.

    Irrigation Tips

    • Water butts are a great way to collect and reuse rainwater
    • Greywater from washing up is perfectly harmless to plants
    • It’s better to keep plants well hydrated once a week than short bursts of water each day
    • Mulching around flower beds will help better protect against droughts and heatwaves -do this in early Spring and late Autumn with compost or well-rotted manure

    It may sound really obvious that I’m telling you how to water plants. However, if you consider the thousands of gardeners and preciousness of water resources then watering more efficiently not only benefits plants but the environment too!

    If you’ve found this guide helpful why not follow me on Youtube where I’ve got plenty of garden guide vlogs. You can also TweetFacebook or Instagram me with your questions or thoughts. Happy Gardening!

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