‘Worst mistake’ gardeners can make during a heatwave – can result in ‘death of a plant’07/15/2022
Gardeners' World: Monty Don gives advice on watering plants
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Temperatures are set to rocket up past 30 degrees this week, meaning much attention will be turning to gardens. However, while they might love a spot of sunshine, gardening in hot weather should be undertaken carefully. The wrong move could make the difference between preserving and protecting gardens and destroying them. While there will be those that immediately think of bathing in a paddling pool and BBQs the vast majority of gardeners will be concerned for their plants. Hot weather gardening mistakes can trip many gardeners up, throwing up questions such as when should you water plants in hot weather and is it safe to do any planting?
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So here are a few expert top tips on the mistakes to avoid, and what to do instead to keep outdoor spaces looking exceptional despite the heat.
Presenter and QVC gardening expert Mark Lane explained that watering plants during the day is one of the “worst mistakes” any gardener can make, especially during hot weather.
He said: “One of the worst mistakes you can make is to water your plants at the wrong time.
“The best time is early in the morning when the outdoor temperature is cooler, between 5:00 and 9:00 am, resulting in less water lost to evaporation.”
The expert added that “early morning is preferable to late evening watering” as the plant can “dry off quickly which helps protect against the development of fungal diseases”.
Mark warned: “Watering at night can result in water pooling on the soil’s surface, around the roots and on foliage which can lead to fungal growth, rot, insects and even the death of a plant.”
As well as when, gardeners will be wondering about how much to water a garden in hot weather, however, less is definitely more during a heatwave.
Overwatering is a common mistake to make when the mercury starts to soar.
Henry Bartlam, founder of Dig, advised: “Don’t give your plants a daily light sprinkling of water.
“Better to give them a good soak every couple of days (especially in warmer weather) than a quick splash every day.
“There is no precise science to this, but if the soil looks nice and damp, and doesn’t dry out quickly, you’ve probably done a good job.
“Be careful not to overwater and saturate the soil though – not only could this eventually damage the plants, but also wastes valuable water.”
The gardening pro explained that the general rule of thumb is that if you touch the soil and it feels damp, you can probably leave it a day or two, but probably not a week.
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While not a huge blunder, planting up during a heatwave is best avoided to give new plants the best chance of survival.
Henry explained: “It’s not ideal to be planting things when it’s so hot – especially if they are small, tender plants.
“But you can still do so if you ensure the soil is well prepared and moist and that you avoid planting when the sun is at its strongest.
“The most important thing to do as soon as you have planted up is to give everything a good water.”
The temperature of your soil might be the last thing on gardeners’ thought to cover when considering garden shade during a heatwave, however if the temperature rises too much it can impede on the plants ability to take on water and nutrients.
Sean Lade, director of Easy Garden Irrigation pointed out: “It is important to shield your soil from the sun where possible.
“The best way to do this is to spread a layer of mulch over your soil to shield it from the sun.”
This will help keep it cooler and prevent moisture from evaporating.
He added: “Roughly a two inch layer is best and this will ensure that your plants will be happy throughout the hot weather.”
A brown lawn might have gardeners running for their hose, however, the experts assure gardeners not to panic if they see their lawn turning brown on a hot day, as it should return to normal when the temperature drops if the lawn is well established.
Jonathan Hill, Sales Director, Rolawn explained: “Trying to keep your lawn green during longer spells of hot, dry weather can be an unnecessary waste of time, effort and water.
“During a heatwave your lawn might dull in colour or turn brown and become dormant, but don’t worry, if the turf is good quality it should recover quickly when rain falls, as it inevitably will.”
Summer is the best time to tackle weeds, and there’s no better time than in a heatwave when everything else should be left alone and weeds will be thriving.
Sean said: “The fight against weeds is real. During the summer season is when weeds proliferate, so it is crucial that you do not give up the good fight to keep them at bay.
“Otherwise, you’ll be overrun with weeds before you know it.”
The expert explained that the “easiest” way to remove them is by hand.
He said: “Pull them up with their roots and weeds are easiest to pull when they are young and small and have less chance of spreading seeds.
“You will more than likely need to use a hoe to pull up established weeds completely, so it may be worth investing in one if you haven’t already.”
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