The garden watering mistake you’re probably making when giving your plants a drink

Gardeners' World: Monty Don gives advice on watering plants

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We all know it’s important to water plants regularly, but are you watering your plants properly? There is a correct technique to watering plants, and doing it wrong can even harm your floral friends. Are you making this common garden watering mistake?

Do you drench your plants in water from the top, leaving their leaves dripping wet? If so, it’s time to rethink your watering technique.

Plants drink water and absorb its nutrients through their roots, which live in the soil. Moisture in the soil, compost or pot is key to your plant’s health and hydration.

Think of it like drinking a glass of water. If you were to pour a glass of water over the top of your head, you might be able to catch a few drops as they trickle down your face, but it wouldn’t quench your thirst. In the same way, watering plants at the root is the best way of giving them a proper drink.

If the leaves or foliage are being soaked, this can even encourage fungal problems as well as the water evaporating in the sunlight, leaving your plant parched.

How to water your plants properly

When you water your plants, be sure to water the soil and the roots thoroughly. Using a watering can might help you to target the correct part of the plant.

Giving the bottom of your plant a proper soak, less frequently, is much better than giving the plant a sprinkle once a day.

The aim with watering your plants is consistency. Keeping the level of moisture in the soil topped up, avoiding drought or overwatering, is ideal.

This thorough method of watering encourages strong and deep root growth, which is exactly what you (and your plants) want.

When should I water my plants?

Another common mistake gardeners make is watering their plants at the wrong times of day.

If you water in the middle of the day, you risk immediately losing all of that water to evaporation.

Aim to water your plants in the cool of the early morning, or in the evening.

The best time of day to water your plants is early in the morning, as when the sun goes up the plants will need to use that water.

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How often should I water my plants?

There’s no one rule for how often you should water your plants. This depends on the species and size of the plant, as well as the weather conditions.

Here are some factors to consider, when getting into the rhythm of watering your garden.

The size, species and age of your plant: Generally, the larger a plant is, the more water it uses up, and the more water it will need. Fruit and flowers also need more nutrients, which means more water.


The soil: Different types of soil retain different amounts of water. Clay soil holds more water than sandy soil, for example. Supplementing soil with organic matter, like compost, will improve its ability to hold water.

Pots: Plants in pots will need more frequent watering as by contrast to those growing in the ground, their roots can’t move to more moist areas. Check your potted plants for rootbound, as this will stop them from absorbing water.

Season: If it’s an arid, hot, summer, your plants will need watering more often than when it’s been a rainy few weeks. Plants use more water in hot, sunny and windy months.

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