It may be September but it’s been so dry that your plants will definitely need some water.
Water in the mornings, if you can, as this is when the sun comes up and plants will start to use water. The foliage and soil surface is also likely to stay drier for longer than evening watering, discouraging slugs, snails and mildew diseases. Plants start to transpire in sunlight, drawing water from the soil, through their roots, up their stems and out through tiny pores on their leaves called stomata. Evening watering is also fine, as the cooler conditions mean less water is lost to evaporation.
Guide for watering plants
There is no simple rule of thumb for watering as each plant has different needs – for example, a container plant in hot sunny weather may need watering daily, whereas a mature shrub might only need a drink in extreme drought.
Signs that your plants may need more frequent watering
- Less than expected growth of foliage, or production of fruit or flowers
- Leaves or stems that look dull or lost their shine, sometimes darker or paler than normal
- Change in position of leaves, they may angle downwards or start to curl
- Wilting (take care though as this can also indicate overwatering!)
- Pots become lighter in weight
- Pots blowing over in the wind
- Symptoms of powdery mildew
If the surface of the soil or compost is dry, that does not necessarily mean that the plant needs water. Water is needed at the root tips, so surface moisture is not always a good indicator. If using the touch test, push your finger down into the compost or soil to at least knuckle depth to see if it is damp, rather than just feeling the surface.
Watering more thoroughly, but less frequently helps get the water down to the deeper root tips. It is better to water the garden before drought really sets in, to keep the soil moisture levels even and avoid the soil being continuously dry. But, equally important, the soil doesn’t have to be really wet all the time because plants roots need air as well as water to grow well.