Garden watering SOS as drought conditions bite
11th July 2017
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The manager of a leading Shropshire specialist plants centre has advised gardeners to ensure that they water their plants enough during the current hot weather after being inundated with SOS calls.

Tim Robinson, manager of Love Plants, based alongside caravan and motorhome dealership Salop Leisure’s Shrewsbury headquarters, says he has lost count of the reports he and his team have had about plants showing sign of water deprivation.


Tim Robinson watering the roses at Love Plants.

“Following a particularly dry spring and now the hot summer weather, plants are having to contend with near drought conditions as the water table is so low,” he said. “So many people are losing plants simply because they are not watering them enough. Even mature plants with deep roots are showing signs of stress.

“People assume they are losing plants through disease when in fact it’s due to drought. I would estimate that half of all the plant problems we are dealing with are drought related and it’s not only the hot weather that can dehydrate plants. Wind is also a threat.”

He has produced a six-tip watering plan to help gardeners protect their plants.

  1. Enrich the quality and moisture of your soil by mulching the surface around plants and digging in organic material. Add water retaining granules to pots and containers.
  2. Water your plants in the early morning or in the evening when it’s cooler and there is less water loss through the leaves. Water could be lost within 15 minutes in hot weather, especially in containers.
  3. Look for early signs of stress in plants before it’s too late. Once a leaf becomes crisp around the edge you will probably lose it but the plant will recover if it’s watered in time. Roses, particularly, need lots of water for buds to bloom and fruit trees will flower but sometimes will not bear fruit because they are short of water. With big shrubs that are suffering drought damage, you will need to prune it back to the green wood and ensure that they are watered well.
  4. Know your soil. Heavy clay soil will hold moisture well but in summer it can dry, crack and separate from roots. If you have sandy soil, the water will leach straight through. Knowing the moisture content of your soil is important and one way of testing this is to dig down a spade’s depth, where you should find a sign of moisture. The Royal Horticultural Society’s recommended watering guide is 5.2 gallons per 10 square foot of garden.
  5. With south-facing gardens, you may struggle to keep it watered properly, so it’s important to choose plants that can withstand dry conditions. As a general rule, silver leafed plants, which have tiny hairs, are better because they reflect the sun and retain moisture. Lavender, brachyglottis and sedums are examples.
  6. Use the right watering method. The most effective way to water is by using a watering can or hose pipe, but you need to get as much around the base of the plants as possible. If you have larger areas, you can use automatic irrigation. Sprinklers may work for lawns but are less effective for foliage. Saving and recycling water is important, so invest in a water butt and try and use bath and sink water as household soaps and detergents will not harm plants. However, do not re-use water that contains bleach.
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