There's been a sudden increase in temperature outside recently, and we're looking at some very warm weather over the next few days. This means it is vital our plants our looked after and watered correctly! No underwatering/overwatering, and avoid any fertilising.
That being said, here's a few tips for looking after your plants in this summer heat:
1. Do not overwater
As soon as it turns very warm, we all get a bit panicky and think we need to water our plants a lot every day to ensure they get enough throughout the dry spell. Believe it or not, however, it is possible to overwater even when it is hot.
When you water too frequently, the plants will end up sitting in warm, stagnant water each day, which can lead to dangerous root rot. This means it is very important you keep an eye on the soil dampness and ensure you water at the correct time of day (read below to find out more on this).
2. Measure the soil dryness before watering
When we take a first look at the plant's topsoil, and it appears dry, our immediate reaction is to water. However, this can sometimes be a big mistake if the soil is not tested properly.
The best way to be specific about the amount of water your plants require, is by using your finger to test the dryness of the soil, around 2-4 inches below soil level around the plants. It is good to note that some species will always require less or more water than others (do some research or ask a professional if you're unsure), but in general, if the soil is dry to a depth of 5 inches or more, then your plants are dehydrated.
If the soil seems dry from about 3 inches or so down, then they will need a good watering.
Continue to test the soil before watering most areas, particularly pot grown plants and root-root-prone plants, to ensure your plants are getting the correct levels of water throughout this heat.
3. Sunlight and water can lead to scorching leaves
Remember, water droplets on leaves in direct sunlight will often lead to leaf burn. In order to avoid this, you will need to ensure the plants are watered at the base, where possible. This way, the water will soak directly through the soil and down to the roots, avoiding any direct contact with the foliage.
It's also important to ensure you do not go overboard with the watering, as you do not want to cause root rot (as mentioned above), particularly when watering directly into the soil.
4. Water at the correct time of day
To put it simply, watering first thing in morning, before any harsh heat hits, will ensure your plants have time to soak up as much water as possible before it can evaporate in the heat.
You can also water last thing in the evening, but must be cautious with the amount you are watering as you do not want to leave the roots soaking in too much water overnight - with very warm weather, you should be ok with watering in the evening, as the plants will be very thirsty by the end of the hot day! Just don't overwater.
5. Water potted plants more frequently
As vital as it is to ensure your hedging plants, borders, and shrubs are kept well-watered, pot grown plants are just as important (if not more)! The reason being, pots have a very well-draining system meaning that water can easily be lost through drainage and evaporation in the heat. It's important to note that most potted plants require different levels of water, and it will depend on the drainage system.
A good way to ensure the plants are getting enough water is by making a regular watering schedule and testing the soil prior to watering (as mentioned above). Again, only water first thing in morning, or if need be, last thing in the evening.
With very warm temperatures, it may be that your plants will need to be watered every day consistently.
With that all being said, we wish you all the very best in looking after your plants during this summer heat!