Water plants — water properly and save water cleverly

Learn how best to water your plants. With the right knowledge about watering plants, you will be able to experience magical window boxes, green lawns and lush fruit and vegetable beds even at high temperatures, and save water at the same time.

Basic tips for correct watering

All plants need water. The water requirement essentially depends on the type of plant , the temperature , the location , the radiation and the soil conditions . Planted in the ground, plants tolerate dry periods better than in a planter. Therefore, watering plants is different depending on the situation.

The following tips are essential for watering plants:

1. Watering the right time of day for planting
2. Watering plants at the roots
3. Watering plants penetratingly
4. Watering plants when soil is loose
5. Watering plants when soil has mulch
6. Watering plants with rainwater

Water the right time of day to plant

It is best if you water your plants in the garden early in the morning . This means that the soil can absorb the water well and there is less evaporation than when watering in the blazing midday sun. On hot days, water droplets on leaves can cause burns (burning glass effect like through a magnifying glass). Alternatively, it is possible to water in the evening. It is important here that the leaf dries off before night , especially in plants that are susceptible to fungus (larkspur or roses) .

Water plants at the roots

It is important that you water the plants and not just wet the leaves . If the water is given on the surface, the evaporation is huge and the development of fungal diseases is promoted. When planting, give the water directly to the roots and as little as possible over the leaves. Proper watering saves water and avoids diseases.

Water plants thoroughly

Water your plants vigorously at intervals , this is better than daily watering with small amounts of water. In concrete terms, watering means penetrating: it is better to give a little more every second or third day than just a little every day. Due to the vigorous watering, the water seeps into deeper layers of the earth and is therefore available to the plant roots for a longer period of time. If only little water is administered, evaporation is higher and the water administered is only available to the plants to a limited extent.

Trivia: Whenever possible, plants should develop roots deep underground in order to be able to draw water and nutrients from deeper layers of the soil. Only with vigorous watering are the roots stimulated to go deep. By moistening the soil (daily watering with small amounts), the plants are spoiled, only develop superficial roots and wither faster in the heat. Thus, proper watering has a significant impact on root formation and drought tolerance.

Water plants when the soil is loose

A loose soil can absorb and store water better. It is therefore advisable that you hoe regularly , because a loose soil evaporates less water than a muddy surface. Chopping destroys the capillaries and reduces evaporation. Proper tillage is therefore an essential contribution to saving water when watering plants. In addition, you should cover the beds with mulch to minimize evaporation.

Water plants when soil is covered with mulch

Mulch material for peas to protect against evaporation

With a permanent cover (mulch), the water is better held in the soil . Evaporation is reduced and the water storage capacity is increased by improving the soil structure. Coarse organic material such as a thin layer of lawn clippings, rhubarb leaves, straw or crop residues such as lettuce leaves or cabbage is ideal for mulching. Make sure that the mulch layer is only applied very thinly around the plants to avoid mold growth. Due to the organic material, the plants only need smaller amounts of water.

Water plants with rainwater

If possible, you should water your plants with rainwater . With a rain barrel you save valuable drinking water and provide your plants with the best care. The free water is ideal as it contains no minerals and thus has little effect on the pH of the soil . An underground cistern is ideal, where the rainwater can be collected in large quantities and pumped with a pump if necessary. Alternatively, you can collect the rainwater in a bin, barrel or tank. Make sure the container is closed to prevent animals from entering, to prevent leaf fall and to reduce evaporation.

Water plants in summer

Especially in summer, plants in the garden or on the balcony need water regularly. Watering the garden is a challenge, especially when it is very hot and there are long periods of drought. Many flowers, vegetables and other plants are stressed by prolonged high temperatures, and some species also suffer from intense sunlight. With the right knowledge, you can help your plants survive the heat and holiday season well. Find out below how best to get your plants through the summer.

5 tips to avoid damage from summer heat

  1. Shade delicate flowers during the strong midday heat . This applies to houseplants and delicate flowers (e.g. ball hydrangea or Japanese maple) in the garden.
  2. If possible, use window boxes or pots with water storage or saucers.
  3. Never water directly over the leaf during the day , drops of water can burn the leaves. The best time of day to water is early in the morning.
  4. Pay attention to a maximum soil volume . Plants in small pots quickly suffer damage. Plants planted in the ground need even soil moisture, especially during germination and immediately after planting. In dry conditions, seeds germinate unevenly or not at all.
  5. Sufficiently fertilized plants are more stress-tolerant to high temperatures.

Fact: Plants can protect themselves from heat to a certain extent by means of special mechanisms. This includes transpiration at locations with sufficient water availability . Similar to human sweating, transpiration cools the leaves and flowers . However, if there is too little water in the soil, the plant can no longer protect itself and unsightly burns occur. Therefore, the most important care measure for all plants in summer is an adequate water supply. Transpiration takes place during the day at high temperatures and if excessive can lead to wilting.

Water potted plants and balcony plants properly in summer

Tub plants in small pots sometimes have to be watered daily in summer . It is important that you always have a saucer under every potted plant . This water reserve significantly reduces the watering intervals and the plant gets through the summer day well supplied. In periods of heavy rain, the coaster can be removed so that waterlogging never occurs. Pay attention to the color when choosing a pot. Basically, light-colored pots are better because black pots and boxes heat up faster and the plants may suffer root damage. In addition, solitary plants develop better when they are in large planters . If necessary, potted plants can also be repotted in summer. By theLarger volumes of soil store more water , increasing the watering intervals. Freshly repotted potted plants are first watered from above, so the plant quickly establishes itself and forms new roots. In summer you can water from below, this has the advantage that the soil only absorbs as much water as it can actually store and excess water is avoided.

Depending on the location and plant species, balcony plants usually need daily watering in summer . The water requirement varies depending on the species. Freshly planted balcony plants need little water in the first few weeks. Use your finger to check whether watering is necessary . With lush planting, two waterings per day may be necessary in midsummer. Place a watering can with water next to the plants so you can act quickly if necessary. Or you can make maintenance easier with water storage boxes or special drip and spray systems. These can also be switched automatically in connection with an irrigation computer. The irrigation systems can be combined in many ways and also bridge the vacation.
Gardener’s tip: In extremely hot phases, it can be helpful if you protect the balcony boxes from strong sunlight with a parasol or an awning. Because despite sufficient water supplies, plants in pots and boxes are at risk of burns due to the small volume of soil.

Water shrubs and perennials properly in summer

On soil with a high humus content, rooted shrubs and perennial species are usually easy to care for and watering the garden is only necessary when there is no rainfall . Light sandy soils store less moisture and you generally have to plan more time for maintenance in the garden. Shrubs in containers require more attention than specimens planted in the ground.

Important tips for watering perennials and shrubs

  • Apply water directly to the root area, never over the leaves. In this way, the irrigation water reaches the plant directly. Lawn sprinklers are not ideal for watering trees and shrubs, as too much water gets on the leaves and evaporates. Watering with a garden hose or a watering can is better.
  • 5 to 20 liters of water may be necessary for each tree. The need depends on the species, size, temperature and soil conditions. Water the shrubs with large amounts of water at intervals and not with small amounts every day. In this way, the water penetrates into deeper layers and ideally supplies the trees and shrubs.
  • Cover the soil around shrubs and perennials with mulch to reduce evaporation.
  • Shrubs and perennials on light sandy soil and in the first year after planting require intensive care in dry summers. Daily watering may be necessary here. But it is also true here that it is better to water with 10 liters every 2 days than with 5 liters every day.

Gardener’s tip: Flat-rooted plants suffer from drought more quickly. These include, for example, all Thuja species, bamboo and Buddleja. It is optimal if you install an irrigation system directly at the planting with light sandy soil. With a garden irrigation you make the work much easier.

Watering vegetables in summer

Most types of vegetables develop optimally when there is sufficient heat in the garden and on the balcony. Well rooted vegetables in the bed will tolerate a few days without watering. Consistent soil moisture is important for the growth of beans, peas and cucumbers, the fruit size of tomatoes, peppers and aubergines and the development of the heads of all types of cabbage. Fluctuations in moisture result in reduced build-up and size. In general, it is also better to water extensively twice a week instead of a little every day .

Important tips for watering vegetables

  • Young vegetable plants need careful care until they have formed enough new roots. You should therefore not carry out new plantings before a longer absence.
  • Only water tomato plants directly at the roots. Wet leaves increase the risk of fungal diseases.
  • Drought in fennel leads to woody bulbs. Therefore, a constant water supply is necessary when cultivating fennel.
  • Water depending on the plant species. Basically, vegetables can be divided into flat-rooted, medium-deep-rooted and deep-rooted. Shallow-rooted plants need to be watered more often than the other two groups.

shallow roots

0 to 20 cm root depth

Lettuce, spinach, onions, leeks, corn, celery, radishes

medium deep rooter

20 to 40 cm root depth

Peas, beans, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, cabbage

deep rooter

40 to 60 cm root depth

Parsnip, beetroot, tomato, squash, melon, asparagus Gardening tip : Loosen the soil around the vegetable plants regularly. This will prevent moisture from escaping from the soil through capillary action. Covering with organic material such as lawn clippings or large rhubarb leaves also helps. The soil stays moist longer and soil life is activated as a result.

Watering the lawn in summer — proper watering of the green area

Regular watering is essential for a lush green lawn . The frequency and duration of the necessary watering essentially depend on the precipitation, the type of soil and the location. Irrigation every 2 to 3 days may be necessary on light sandy soils. With a high humus content and a shady place, watering once a week can be sufficient. The lawn needs more water under trees and large shrubs. Therefore, one possibility can also be that you only water the dry areas in the lawn and not the entire area. Furthermore, a flower meadow is the environmentally friendly alternative to a lawn.This natural type of green space requires hardly any water and is a valuable source of food for many insects and butterflies.

Gardening tip: Check the soil moisture regularly, because often only the surface of the soil is moistened when watering the lawn. Thorough watering is necessary for healthy lawn grasses. This means that you should not have dry soil at a depth of 10 cm. As a rule of thumb: 10 to 15 liters of water per square meter should be given per irrigation cycle. You can control the amount of water with an empty glass.

Buy garden irrigation

Save water in the garden

Xeriscaping with flowering perennials as an alternative to lawns

Water is a scarce commodity and expensive at the same time. Therefore, saving water in the garden is necessary and sensible in every respect. Drinking water does not necessarily have to be used to water plants . Therefore, rainwater collection is the first option when it comes to saving water . Lush perennial beds, colorful summer flowers and a rich vegetable harvest don’t have to remain a dream. We will show you how to reduce water consumption and use rainwater. Below you can find out everything you need to know about watering properly and saving water in the garden.

Saving water in the garden starts with the garden design

The water requirement of a garden essentially depends on the plants used, the soil conditions and the management method. In a water-saving landscape design (xeriscaping) , only plants are used whose water requirements are common in the region. In concrete terms, the planting of exotic plants with a high water requirement is avoided . This type of garden design is particularly useful for large-scale discounts. By using perennial species that are drought tolerant, water use can be greatly reduced. In water-saving landscaping, perennials are often combined with wild trees, replacing lawns or borders with annual bedding plants.

Summary: The plants are selected based on the site conditions, which means that heat-tolerant species such as grasses, spurge, coneflowers or lavender are planted in sunny, warm places.

Improve soil conditions and save water

Light sandy soils can only store little water and rainwater or irrigation water quickly seeps into deep layers (inaccessible to plant roots). The aim is therefore to increase the water storage capacity of permeable soils . The accumulation of humus allows the soil to store water better . Therefore, mulching on sandy soil is the best way to improve the soil and thus minimize water loss. Immediately after planting, you should spread a thin layer of mulch (lawn clippings, coarse plant parts or compost) on well-drained soil. The soil conditions are sustainably improved by the mulch and evaporation is significantly reduced.

Summary: Covering the surface with mulch material keeps the water in the soil and the humus content increases.

Using rainwater as an environmentally friendly way to save water

The rain can easily be collected via roofs and rain gutters. When collecting rainwater, make sure that the bin has a secure cover in households with small children or animals . You should also empty the rain barrels regularly to prevent mosquito larvae from settling there. If the rainwater sits in the sun for too long without a new inflow, an odor can develop. The water can still be used to water perennials or shrubs. By collecting the rainwater, you can save large amounts of precious drinking water. Installing a cistern is even more efficient.

Save water by watering properly

Proper watering means:

  1. Never water in the blazing midday heat (ideally watering is done early in the morning, here evaporation is less and the water is absorbed directly by the plants).
  2. If possible, give water directly to the roots and not just superficially over the leaf.
  3. Penetrating watering at longer intervals is more efficient than watering small amounts every day.
  4. Moisture meters help to find out if you are unsure whether watering is necessary or whether the moisture requirement is optimal.
  5. With drip irrigation, the moisture gets directly to the plants and not in the air or on the leaf.
  6. By using a tree watering bag, individual trees can be watered as needed, these are easy to use and, as a water-saving option, a must for every house tree.
  7. Saucers under potted plants prevent water loss when watering and serve as a reservoir.

Practical tip: rain gauges in the garden indicate the amount of precipitation. With the help of the amount of precipitation, conclusions can be drawn about the water requirements of the plants. If there is little rainfall, it can be helpful to water immediately after it rains. In this way you use the moisture that is already on the ground due to precipitation and save water.

Technical ways to save water and water plants

Automatic irrigation systems help with needs-based irrigation. Plants on the balcony and in the garden are reliably supplied with water and dry damage is a thing of the past. By using technical possibilities, you can save water when watering plants and make your work easier.

There are different systems that make casting easier for you:

  • Lawn watering using permanent sprinkler systems: The installation is underground, pop-up sprinklers guarantee even watering of the lawn.
  • Micro-Drip-Systems supply hedges, balcony and terrace plants as well as kitchen gardens and raised beds reliably and according to need. Drippers or spray nozzles distribute the irrigation water evenly directly to the plants. The micro-drip systems allow you to save water and make your work easier. Due to the slow watering, evaporation is very low and there is rarely excess water.
  • Irrigation cones offer a simple and reliable solution to bridging the heat of the day. To do this, clay cones are stuck into the ground, an ordinary water bottle is filled with water and screwed on: the cheap and quick solution for individual pots, balcony boxes or vegetable plants in sunny locations and high water requirements.
  • Irrigation computers can be interposed for automatic time control of sprinklers and micro-drip systems. After a time limit, the water flow is controlled as desired and you can relax and enjoy your free time. When it rains, the soil moisture sensor is used and the time-controlled watering is interrupted. In our garden centers, the employees in the technical garden will advise you and find the right automatic watering system for your garden and balcony. The well-known rain barrel is also available here.

Our tip: The Iriso drip system is ideal for holidays. The uncomplicated watering system reliably supplies potted plants in the house and garden over a period of 30 days. The adjustable dripper fits bottles or other water containers. If you want to minimize the watering effort, we recommend installing an automatic watering system. Our service team will be happy to help and advise you on professional garden irrigation.

Saving water through proper care — 6 facts

  1. Be sure to plant potted plants in large pots if possible . A sufficiently large volume of soil reduces the frequency of watering. If there is enough potting soil, the irrigation water in the pot can be stored better than if the root ball consists mostly of roots.
  2. In principle, it is better to plant perennials or shrubs in spring or late autumn . The perennial species grow quickly and are more tolerant of dry periods in summer. Summer plantings require more water. Therefore, the planting date is also a way to save water.
  3. A layer of mulch around perennials and shrubs helps conserve water. The organic layer reduces evaporation and therefore less irrigation water is required.
  4. When growing vegetables , intercropping is one way to get good yields with less water . The mixed culture ensures continuous soil coverage in the vegetable patch. This will reduce evaporation and you will need to water the plants less.
  5. The soil should dry out a bit between each watering. As a result, the roots are better developed, go deeper and less water is required in the long term. This applies to all plant species.
  6. Pay attention to the balanced fertilization of your plants . If the nitrogen supply is too high, the water requirement increases and you have to water the plants more frequently. Especially in late summer and autumn, potassium-rich fertilization helps against winter damage caused by frost and drought.

    Water plants in winter

    Even in winter, water is necessary for many plants. Deciduous trees planted in the ground are dormant and do not need to be watered . Watering is important for evergreen plants such as cherry laurel, bamboo or rhododendron . The foliage of the evergreens evaporates, especially in intense winter sun, and without sufficient moisture in the soil, drought damage can quickly occur . Read more about this in our blog post ‘Cherry laurel — brown leaves after winter, now what?’

    Balcony plantings with Christmas roses, partridge berries, winter heather, ivy and conifers occasionally need some care in winter. It is therefore important from time to time that you water these plants during the winter .

    Bulbs of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other spring flowers planted in the ground are undemanding and only need a little water on light soil and in very dry winters.

    Depending on the type and room temperature, potted plants in winter quarters need water. It is important that the soil in the pot is still moist, but never completely dries out and there is never standing water. The top layer of soil in the pot should dry out a bit before the next watering, but never so that the soil detaches from the edge of the pot. With potted plants, avoid water in the saucer, excess water should be poured off immediately.

    This is how we water the plants in our tree nursery when it is very dry

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