How much water do plants need during an Irish summer?

Expert Tips from The Plant Collector for Healthy and Thriving Plants, whether it's lashing rain or sunny & dry.

We know that gardeners across Ireland are eager to make their outdoor spaces come alive with lush greenery and colourful blooms. However, with the unpredictable Irish weather, managing plant watering can be a bit of a challenge. Surprisingly, even during wet spells, plants can suffer from both underwatering and overwatering. But don't worry! As plant experts, we at The Plant Collector are here to guide you through the dos and don'ts of watering your plants during the summer, ensuring they stay healthy and vibrant for as long as possible.

1. Know Your Plants

Different plants have different watering and soil requirements, and it's essential to understand them to prevent underwatering or overwatering. Group your plants based on their needs, considering factors such as their natural habitat, light and soil type requirements.

Plants native to Mediterranean climates are used to receiving sunlight many hours a day and living in sandier, poorer soils which hold little water and nutrients. Lavender, Salvia and Rosemary are some examples of such plants, and therefore need to be planted in sunny spots and in free draining soil. They still need to be watered as often as other moisture loving plants, but water must be able to filter through and exit the soil quickly so their root systems aren’t sitting in water as they are more prone to rot.

Moisture-loving plants like Ferns and Hostas, also like free draining soil, but require to be planted in shadier spots where moisture can remain in the air for longer.

Plants such as Hydrangea or Viburnum, can live happily live in soil types that retain more water, like clay soils.

The key is as much in the soil type as in the watering frequency.

2. Check the Soil Moisture Regularly

Whether it's raining frequently or not, always check the moisture level of the soil before watering. Stick your finger about an inch into the soil or use a moisture meter to assess the moisture level accurately. Water if the soil feels dry to the touch. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so it's better to err on the side of caution.

During a hot summer spell, most plants (whether moisture loving or not) will need to be watered every day. As the autumn approaches. check the soil moisture consistently and water accordingly.

Plants in containers may require more frequent watering as they dry out faster. Pay extra attention to potted plants, especially during heatwaves.

Are your plants newly planted? If so, they will most certainly require frequent watering, as opposed to plants that are mature and long established.

3. If it’s raining, should I still water?

This heavily depends on the amount of rainfall. A light shower will wet the plant leaves, but will not penetrate deeply into the soil, so watering will most likely still be required. A heavy downpour may save you the watering effort for the day – but it would depend on how long it lasts. In summary, even if it rains, do check the moisture level in the soil.

4. Optimal Watering Times & frequency

Watering at the right time of day is crucial to ensure maximum absorption and reduce water loss due to evaporation, especially in hot weather. The best time to water your plants is early in the morning, and if this is not possible, then later in the evening when temperatures are cooler. Avoid watering during the hottest part of the day, as this can lead to water loss through evaporation, and the plants may struggle to absorb water effectively. During a heatwave, you may even need to water both in the morning and at night!

Watering frequency will heavily depend on weather, soil type, drainage capacity, and whether the plants are on the ground or in pots. Rather than setting an arbitrary schedule, checking the moisture in the soil is a good way to determine if watering is needed.

5. Proper Drainage is Key

As we mentioned above, appropriate drainage is essential for good plant health. Ensure your plant beds, pots, and containers have sufficient drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. This prevents waterlogged roots and helps maintain oxygen levels in the soil.

If your plants are on the ground, ensure they are planted in the appropriate soil type.

If you have plants in areas prone to waterlogging, consider raising the beds or using raised containers to improve drainage.

View our Outdoor pot collection.

6. Mulch for Moisture Retention

Mulching around your plants can significantly benefit them during the hot summer months. Apply a layer of Organic Mulch (such as straw or bark chips) around the base of the plants to retain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and inhibit weed growth. Mulch acts as a protective barrier and reduces water evaporation, ensuring your plants stay hydrated for longer.

7. Employ Watering Aids

To make watering more efficient and save water, consider using watering aids such as:

Soaker hoses: These allow for slow, deep watering, delivering water directly to the root zone.

Drip irrigation systems: Great for precision watering, they minimize water waste and ensure each plant gets the right amount of water (and they’ll save you lots of time and worry if you go on holidays!)

Rainwater harvesting: Collect rainwater in barrels during rainy spells and use it to water your plants during dry periods.

At The Plant Collector, we are passionate about helping you create and maintain a beautiful garden that brings joy and tranquillity to your life. Embrace these watering techniques and enjoy the rewards of a flourishing garden that will last all summer long. Happy gardening!

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Our Café with indoor & outdoor seating to enjoy local, specialist coffee, gourmet food and artisan treats surrounded by beautiful plants, vistas of our pond & local wildlife.

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