‘No simple rule of thumb’ The best time to water plants in hot weather to help them thrive

Gardening: How to create a watering tool for your plants

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Plants can suffer in the heat, with the roots and soil drying out more quickly in the humid weather. Watering your garden and houseplants more often may seem like the obvious solution to keep them thriving, but when is the best time to give them a much-needed drink? Here’s everything you need to know about watering plants in the hot weather, including the best time of day to do it.

When to water plants in hot weather

Too much or too little of anything can be bad for your plants, especially when it comes to watering.

Watering plants in the summer should be done more frequently than other seasons, as garden plants and indoor varieties grow more vigorously.

The morning is the ‘best time’ to do this as the weather tends to be cooler earlier in the day and helps the plant to cope with the warmest parts of the afternoon.

Why is the morning the best time of day to water plants?

Watering plants in the morning is also more effective because the water is less likely to evaporate in the hot air.

By doing it early in the day, the plant has plenty of time to absorb the water right to its roots and is well protected from drying out too much throughout the day.

Giving garden or houseplants a drink first thing in the morning can help to prevent disease too, especially damp-related problems like fungal growth.

While it may mean you have to get up that little bit earlier, your plants will be much healthier if you allow time for the roots, leaves, stems and flowers to absorb the water and dry out before the humid afternoon arrives.

How often should plants be watered in hot weather?

The morning is the safest time to water all plants in the hot weather, but you may need to adjust the frequency to suit each type growing in your home or garden.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said: “There is no simple rule of thumb for watering as each plant has different needs – for example, a container plant in hot sunny weather may need watering daily, whereas a mature shrub might only need a drink in extreme drought.”

Container plants

Container plants may need watering every day during extremely hot weather because they lose more water than plants with their roots in the ground.

Use the finger test to determine the moisture content in the soil and work out whether you need to water the pots.

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Border plants

In a border, the roots are free to grow wherever they are able to find water.

This allows them to draw moisture from a much larger volume of soil than if the roots are confined in a pot.

For this reason, you should be able to water border plants less frequently, though this will depend on whether they are annual or perennial.

The best time to water perennial plants is once or twice a week, slowly and deeply so that the water does not run off before it has time to soak into the soil.

Annuals have very shallow root systems and will suffer when the top inches of soil dry out, so you must water them frequently – as much as twice per day during a heatwave.

What are the signs your plants need more water?

If you’re worried about your plants drying out in the hot weather, there are a few signs you can look out for to determine whether they’re in need of a drink.

According to the RHS, some of the key indicators that your plants need more frequent watering include:

  • Slowed or reduced growth – in the foliage, or production of fruit or flowers
  • Dull, dark or pale leaves and stems
  • Change in position of leaves – angle downwards, start to curl
  • Pots feel lighter in weight
  • Pots blow over easily in the wind
  • Powdery mildew – (a powdery fungi reside visible on the leaves of diseased plants)

Touching the soil to feel for moisture is the easiest way to tell if your plant is getting too much or too little water, though the RHS warned that a dry soil surface doesn’t always mean the plant needs a drink.

It said: “Water is needed at the root tips, so surface moisture is not always a good indicator.

“If using the touch test, push your finger down into the compost or soil to at least knuckle depth to see if it is damp, rather than just feeling the surface.”

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