A rainy summer has at least one benefit if you're a gardener – less work watering your plants. Or so we thought. Rainy weather, within reason, is typically good news for gardens, but it turns out that gardeners are missing an opportunity to help their plants really thrive by leaving the watering to mother nature.
Speaking about watering plants on Gardener's World (opens in new tab), expert gardener Kevin Smith has urged garden owners, especially those with container gardens, to still water their plants after it rains. Here's why.
Why you should still water your plants after it rains
Kevin focused his tip in particular on container gardens, stressing how important it is to take good care of container plants, or they just will 'not look very nice'. And 'the most important thing to keep on top of' if you want to maintain a beautiful container garden 'is watering.' The cornerstone of most container gardening ideas is lots of terracotta pots – essentially, pots made from clay. Plants dry out in this potted environment much quicker than if they are planted in the ground. But there is more to it than that, as Kevin explains.
Essentially, the plants themselves, when they are in containers, block the rain from reaching the soil. 'All of this leafy foliage covers the compost surface meaning that no rain really reaches anything at all,' Kevin said. And the bigger, more mature the plant, the more this will be the case.
So, 'don’t be fooled by rain! If you think it’s rained and you don’t need to water a container, you’re probably wrong.' Continue watering as you would normally, and always do a finger test to check if the soil is saturated. The top of the soil may look moist, but if you stick an index finger in the pot and it comes out mostly dry, it's definitely time to water.
You don't need to get the garden hose out for the container plants – a watering can is all you need. Kevin's top tip when watering with a watering can is to 'make sure you direct the flow of the water straight at the compost. You don’t want to sprinkle the leaves as this doesn’t really do any good.' Water thoroughly at the root of the plant, and you're good to go.
Anna writes about real estate, interior design, and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications in the US and the UK. Before embarking on her writing career, Anna taught English at university level and is the author of a book called London Writing of the 1930s. She currently splits her time between London and the Midwest US. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.
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