Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Hot Weather Watering Part 2: don't waste water on plants that don't need it.

Earlier this week I started a short series on Watering in Hot Weather: the other pages being...

1: General Principles.
2: Don't waste water on plants that don't need it
3: Pots
4: Resuscitation

Today is Part 2: don't waste water on plants that don't need it.

Not all plants need to be watered!

Look at your beds and borders, and see which ones are showing signs of stress - wilting leaves, yellowing leaves, leaves falling off, and general droopiness. Focus on those one: don't waster water doing a generic "spray everything in sight" policy: one day soon there is going to be a hosepipe ban again, but if we are all sensible and use a little less, that dreaded day can be put off for as long as possible.

Some plants are more susceptible than others: Rudbeckia (Coneflower), for example, wilt at the least sign of drought. As does Lysimachia punctata:

This is what they normally look like, one of my favourite purple-foliage plants (I have been known to shear off the top couple of inches to prevent them from flowering: some people like the bright acid yellow flowers against the dark purple, but personally I can live without them), here forming a river of purple in amongst other planting.

But oh dear, this is what a similar planting is looking like today - right.

Not happy!

Luckily, this is one plant which can recover from drought: I gave it a good watering (and gave the garden owner a polite and tactful talking-to about neglecting their watering despite specific instructions), and if we are both lucky, it will recover: if not, I'll chop off all this foliage, right down to the ground, and wait a week or two for it to throw up a whole new batch of shoots, which they usuallly do.

Campanula (Bellflower) are rather water-sensitive: and Astrantia do exactly the same as the Lysimachia:; they pull a fainting fit, wilt and die, but if cut right back and watered well, they will usually get their act together and re-sprout.

Hydrangea are another plant which you might not consider to be water-sensitive, but they are - very much so. A hot day can see them with their leaves drooping in a pathetic manner, begging for water. Luckily, they will mostly pop up again once they receive a good soaking.

Summer bedding, being short-lived and shallow-rooted, is definitely going to need special attention, and personally I always give roses a good soaking, as they need water in order to produce new shoots, and new shoots means new buds, which means more flowers. So it's well worth giving the rose border some attention.

What about plants which don't need the extra watering?

For a start, ignore the lawn! To keep a lawn green and lush in this sort of weather will require an hour with the sprinkler, and that is just such a waste of expensive tap water: let it go brown and crispy! Unless it is freshly laid turf (in which case, get that sprinkler out and spray, spray, spray!), let it die off: it will recover in an amazing way within a few days of the rains returning.

And they will return, trust me!

Meanwhile, turn your back on the lawn: and Mediterranean plants such as Lavender,  most herbs, anything with silver foliage and/or hairy, furry, mealy foliage - all of these simply don't need watering every day.

So don't waste water on them: give them a drenching maybe once a week, if it continues hot like this, but not every day.

Likewise, established trees and shrubs should not need any help with watering: they have good deep roots, and the soil - thanks to the endless rain of "spring" this year - has a good water bank.

Having said that, anything at all in a pot is going to need special help, so that's the subject for tomorrow's article.

If you missed any of the other articles in this series, you can either go back through the archive list, or jump:

1: General Principles.
2: Don't waste water on plants that don't need it (this one)
3: Pots
4: Resuscitation

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