Watering tips: 5 mistakes you might be making in when watering your garden

Alan Titchmarsh advises gardeners on watering their plants

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Water helps plants and flowers by transporting important nutrients through the roots. Nutrients are drawn from the soil and used by the plant, and without enough water in their cells, the plants droop down – so water essentially helps it stand up straight. Water also carries the dissolved sugar and other nutrients through the plant, so without the proper balance of water, the plant becomes malnourished, physically weak and unable to support its own weight. Different types require different quantities of water – but in general, there are some key mistakes you could be making.

Don’t over or under water

Whichever plants or flowers you’re looking after, make sure to do your research and find out how much water they like.

During hot weather it may be tempting to water enough to keep the soil damp, but this isn’t advised.

Shallow surface watering discourages deep root development and will still kill the plant in the end.

Instead, try ad find a routine that requires less watering but one that penetrates more deeply into the soil as this method encourages the roots to reach deeper for residual water even when the surface appears dry.

The standard rule of thumb is to give flowers and plants one inch of water per week, and about double this amount during the height of summer.

Water at the right time of day

Watering at the correct time of day will promote healthy growth and longer life in your plants.

The most efficient time to water flowers and plants outdoors is early in the morning or later in the evening.

The morning, before the heat of the day is at its peak, is ideal because the water has a greater chance of seeping down to the roots before evaporating.

The same goes for watering in the evening.

Correctly check moisture levels

Garden plants can suffer greatly when the soil dries out, but on the other side of the coin, they don’t like ‘wet feet’ either when their roots are sitting in water and not getting enough oxygen.

On a hot, windy day the soil’s surface may look dry while the ground underneath is sufficiently moist, so it’s essential to check properly before adding water.

Keep a wooden stick handy and inset it a few inches into the garden soil and pull it back out to check.

Moist soil will stick to the wood, but if it comes out completely clean then it’s time to water as the soil has dried out.

If you don’t have a wooden stick to hand, you can use your finger. Just stick your finger into the soil knuckle-depth and have a feel to see.

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Don’t forget about containers

Soil in container gardens and flowerpots dries out much more quickly than soil in flowerbeds or garden plots.

The smaller the container, the more frequently you need to water.

Soak the soil in containers in the morning, and, if it’s an especially hot day, soak them again in the afternoon.

If you’re not home or going on holiday, you can insert an automatic plant waterer that features a hollow spike and attaches to a standard plastic water bottle.

When the spike is inserted into the pot, water slowly seeps into the soil and trickles water into the plant at a steady pace.

Use a wand to water plants in a container

A watering wand is essential when dealing with plants in containers.

Using a wand will enable you to extend how far your arm reaches, therefore allowing you to direct water at soil level in overhead hanging plants and baskets.

The same can be used in short, ground-level flowerpots without having to stretch or stoop down.

You will also save water by using this as you’ll be directing only the quantity you need.

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