THE STAR – It might not feel like you can “waste” water that you give to your plants, but there are more efficient and less efficient ways to water them. Watering plants on hot days can also harm them if you do it wrong. Here’s what you need to know.
Watering your plants regularly, particularly during the hot summer months, is essential, not just for those on your balcony but for flower beds and vegetable patches as well.
If you are one of those people tired of lugging watering cans around, however, you will be delighted to hear that most of us tend to water our plants too often.
Knowing how to do it right doesn’t only benefit your plants, it also helps to minimize waste of water, a resource that’s only going to become more scarce as global warming proceeds.
As a general rule, instead of watering your tomatoes, rose bushes and geraniums a little every day, you should water them more heavily occasionally.
Plants adapt to the frequency with which they receive water, with weeds, for example, growing roots closer to the surface when they aren’t watered thoroughly enough, to reach the splashes that fail to saturate the soil.
However, that makes them more vulnerable to drought – meaning they become even more dependent on you watering them every day.
The UK Lawn Care Association therefore recommends watering your lawn just once a week, “providing it is done so deeply and to saturation”.
According to the British experts – who should know what they are talking about, after all they are from the motherland of well-kept lawns – a good saturation level is 2.5 centimetres of water, which you can measure by placing a jar beneath your sprinkler and checking the water level inside.
If you water your plants during the day, there’s a risk that the leaves will get burned. In addition, most of the moisture will just evaporate in the heat before the roots of your plants get a chance to take it in.
On a hot summer day, you shouldn’t water early in the evening either, however, because the soil is still heated up from the day.
According to Germany’s Federal Environment Agency, it’s best to water your plants early in the morning. If you’re not a morning person, your best option might be to get an automatic sprinkler, that you can set to the desired time, or similar irrigation tools for pots and flower
When watering your plants, make sure to target the roots, because wet leaves and blossoms are more vulnerable to mildew which thrives on moisture.
Some plants, like tomatoes and kohlrabi, are sensitive to irrigation from above, with the fruit tending to burst open.
It therefore makes sense to place them under a canopy in a rainy summer. Watering at the roots also helps to reduce water waste, as the moisture immediately ends up where it’s needed. The German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) suggests burying a small flowerpot near the roots: when you pour in the water, it will function like a funnel, guiding the water to where it’s most needed.