It is not very often we get to say the word heatwave in Ireland. While the glorious weather has been welcome, some of our plants might be starting to struggle with the heat. In this post, I will share my tips on how to water your plants in Summer, and most importantly, an Irish heatwave.
If you are like me, and you got into gardening during the pandemic, you won’t want to undo all your hard work in the garden because of watering incorrectly.
Whilst rainwater is best for plants. There will be many times when we need to step in and get the watering can out.
How to water outdoor plants in an Irish heatwave?
Soaking is better than sprinkling
The first plants to show signs of dehydration in my garden are ones in clay pots. Yes, those pretty terracotta pots dry out the quickest. So, my trick is to fill a large bucket of water and plunge the clay pots into it.
I allow all the trapped air to be released and the soil to absorb the water. Plunging my pots into water containers uses less water compared to a garden hose.
Watering early during the day, before the sun reaches its peak, will ensure that the water reaches the roots of the plant. This way, the water will not evaporate before it gets a chance to reach its roots.
When using a watering can try to use it with a spray nozzle, as it will be easier to pour the water on the soil and avoid hitting the leaves.
Using a sprinkler or hose for watering the plants during a heatwave is not recommended as it could induce a shortage of water ( and the last thing we want is to contribute to a water shortage).
Now, I have seen fancy irrigation systems advertised in garden centres. I am not a hardcore gardener, and I can manage my garden with my watering can. However, if you have a large garden, or if you travel often, then consider investing in a watering system that will keep your plants happy, and conserve water.
What is the best time to water your plants in a heatwave?
During a heatwave or on a hot summer day, the best time to water your plants is during the early morning or in the early evening.
If you are watering your plants in the morning, do it before sunrise or immediately after the sun rises. Watering your plants at these timings allows your plants to absorb more water because less water is evaporated.
At the moment, I have been watering my plants around 7 am. I love popping the kettle and having a cup of tea as I water the garden. It’s like having a mindful moment before I tackle the day.
Watering during the early evening is also a good option as it gives the plants enough time to absorb water before night comes in. Try to avoid watering late at night as excess or standing water can cause rotting or fungus.
How to protect your garden in a heatwave?
During the increasingly hot weather, there are some simple measures that you can follow as they will help your garden to continue growing.
- Apply mulch
Mulch is a layer of material that is applied to the soil as it helps with the health of the soil and increasing fertility of the soil. By applying mulch directly around the plants, you can protect them from sun exposure and maintain cooler soil conditions.
Mulch will keep in moisture in your garden borders. Recently, I removed the weeds from my border and laid fresh manure and mulch. You can see more in this YouTube video.
- Use shade
Another common way to protect your garden is to use a cloth for shade as it provides some protection from direct sunlight. You can find different shades in garden centres to suit your space. However, do not cover the plants entirely and leave aside open for the plants to breathe.
If you have shady spots in your garden, why not move any struggling plants in pots to this area to give them a breather from the scorching sun.
- Use tall plants
A heatwave can be the hardest on the younger plants as they are directly exposed. To ensure that all of the plants are well-protected, you can plant taller plants that provide shade to the smaller ones. This way, the mature plants will retain more of the sunlight.
- Water throughout the season
Don’t wait until the soil is completely dry out, have a good watering habit.
Watering the plants throughout the year strengthens the roots, makes the plants healthy and protects them from heatwaves.
Watering all year round will ensure that the roots are deeper and have access to more nutrients and water.
How often should I water my plants in a heatwave?
A heatwave can quickly dry the surface and the plants in your garden, which means that frequent watering is necessary to keep the plants healthy.
During the hot weather, you need to provide the plants with extra watering to ensure they don’t dry out.
Water the plants at least three times a week, and the early morning is the best time to make a significant difference. Try to give all your plants an equal amount of water. It is a common rule that you should water one inch deep every time you water.
Some plants require more water than others, especially Hydrangeas and Verbena and Sunflowers. I like to check on these first and give them an extra drench.
I like to check the soil and see how dry it is. I find clay pots dry out the quickest, so I check them first and plunge them in a bucket of water.
Also, don’t forget to check on your hanging baskets, as just like the clay pots, they can dry out quickly too.
Soggy soil is a no, and moist soil is best!
Can you water plants at night?
Watering in the evening is better, as watering plants at night can expose them to fungus and rot. If watering at right, direct the water to the soil and not the leaf of the plant.
Is it bad to water outdoor plants in your garden daily?
Most of the plants in your garden do not require you to water them daily. Many experts say that watering plants daily will cause them more harm than good.
If you are thinking that watering them daily will cause them to grow quickly and benefit them, then you might be wrong. Feed your plants once a week to help your plants grow bigger and stronger.
Watering plants daily can cause the growth of fungus, rotting of the roots and can also attract different insects.
Check the leaves on your plants for dark spots, mould and signs of overwatering.
Is there a hosepipe ban in Ireland in 2021?
Although Irish Water has urged us to conserve water, there is currently no hosepipe ban in Ireland. You can check for water restrictions and updates on the Irish Water website here.
How to water plants if there is a hosepipe ban?
If you are facing a hosepipe ban, then one of the most convenient ways is to reuse water from washing fruits and vegetables. Using soapy water won’t harm your plants. You can use the water only on those plants which are inedible.
Try to collect rainwater
Rainwater is best for plants. Have you noticed how the garden comes alive after a rainy day? Where possible try to use water buts to collect rainwater.
Now, I am short on garden space, but finding ways to collect rainwater is on my to-do list. I have seen people connect gadgets to their house drainpipes to collect the rainwater, and I want to investigate further. If you have something like this, then please share it in the comments section below.
I would love to hear your watering tips. Please comment below and share your knowledge for keeping your plants happy during Summer. Thanks for reading, Catherine.