Feeding and watering your plants

Plants, like all other living things, need a stead supply of food and water to stay healthy.

 

What you'll need:

1. Watering can

2. Water retaining gel

3. All-purpose plant food

 

Watering can hung on fence

 

Understanding the Essential Plant Nutrients

It is important to ensure that there remain sufficient levels of the 3 key nutrients in your soil: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), often collectively referred to as NPK. Whilst all-purpose plant fertilisers contain all 3, it is useful and interesting to know what each of these nutrients achieves for your plants:

  • Nitrogen promotes new leaf growth; it is to plants what protein is to humans. Be careful thought as too much nitrogen will burn your plants
  • Phosphorus encourages development of the root system. As a component of cell membranes, plant DNA and energy systems, it is particularly important for early plant growth when there is a lot of cell division & expansion as stems, buds, shoots and roots form
  • Potassium (potash) enhances the size and increases the production of flowers and fruit. It also helps plants use water and resist drought, as well as increasing winter hardiness.
  • The ideal mix of NPK will depend on the particular plant in question, so check your purchase label for the specifics.

 

When to Water & Feed your Plants
You will definitely need to water your plants during long hot summer spells. Even if the soil seems to be moist on the surface, it may well be dry around the roots. Rain water on its own rarely fully replenishes soil moisture during the spring, summer and autumn, so ensuring new plants do not suffer from drought stress is particularly important.

The best time to water your plants is in early evening, shortly before or as the sun is setting. This will help to ensure that the sun does not just immediately evaporate the water, instead allowing it to soak deep into the soil to the roots of your precious plants. Watering plants during the middle of the day when the sun is strongest also puts plant foliage at risk of being scorched. Every time you water, do so several times, allowing time for the water to soak deeply into the soil on each occasion. It normally takes many more litres than you think to give plants a proper watering. By the time a plant is showing signs of drought stress it is too late because significant damage has normally already been done.

 

Watering a conifer

 

Whilst watering is not normally required during the winter months, feeding should be undertaken all year round. Feeding during the summer is essential to ensure correct nourishment for foliage growth and flow development, whilst feeding during the winter assists in further establishment of the root system.

 

Watering Methods
Use a watering can fitting with a fine spray. By dispersing the water and ensuring it doesn’t all land ‘lumpily’ in one place, this will minimise disturbance to the plant and root system, avoiding unnecessary damage.

Avoid using sprinkler systems in the middle of the day during very hot summer weather to prevent leaves from scorching. As mentioned above, whatever method of watering is chosen, it is best to do it in the evening when the sun is not so strong to reduce evaporation.

Soaking or trickle hoses are a useful means of giving out very small amounts of water to plants over an extended period of time. An alternative approach is to sink a pipe (a used plastic juice bottle with the bottom cut off works just as well) into the ground next to your plants. If you remember to top these up on a regular basis, they provide an effective means of getting water directly to the roots of your plants.

 

Watering sprinkler with wine

 

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