Watering in the Rain

Reading time 3 minutes


“I need to water the garden before it rains!”: I know this sounds ridiculous (it looks even sillier) but rushing to wet the garden before storm-clouds break is surprisingly necessary if you garden, as I do, in containers.

The fact is that rain is pretty ineffective when it comes to quenching generously packed pots. A dense canopy of foliage is perfectly designed to divert raindrops over the sides of the container and onto the ground, rather than down onto parched roots. Pots placed against a wall or under trees suffer the double whammy of occupying a rain shadow. Hence watering, whether it be with a can or hose, is an unavoidable chore, even during spells of cool or wet weather.



This week has been a case in point. It’s rained every day, occasionally heavily. At 3.30am on Wednesday morning I could be found in underpants, a padded jacket and ancient trainers rescuing my plants from the eye of Storm Aileen. Picture that if you’re brave enough. I was saturated; the plants evidently were not, for, by Thursday evening they were drier than the bottom of a birdcage, parched and wilting, even after another squally shower.

Now that the nights are drawing in I don’t see my garden in the daylight most days, which means watering in the dark. This is not an exact science and prone to making one’s feet wet, but water I must for the Rain Man alone will not sustain my garden through the autumn. TFG.



Categories: Container gardening, Foliage, Musings, Plants, Weather

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

Greetings Garden Lover! Welcome to my blog. Plants are my passion and this is my way of sharing that joyful emotion with the world. You'll find over 1000 posts here featuring everything from abutilons to zinnias. If you've enjoyed what you've read, please leave a comment and consider subscribing using the yellow 'Follow' button in the bottom, right-hand corner of your screen. You will receive an email every time I post something new.

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20 comments On "Watering in the Rain"

  1. I really like the top shot. Is this a photo you’ve taken of your own plant? Is it ok with you if I post this photo on my blog with credit to you and links back to your post and blog home. If so, would you please reply with any extra info you have about this particular aeonium. Thanks!

    1. Yes, it’s my own photograph of Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’. You are welcome to use it with an appropriate credit. I have around 10 of these lovely aeoniums – they are very easy to grow and propagate.

  2. I completely sympathize with your watering plight. I work as a gardener on an estate and watering is my least favorite chore. I often am seen watering even when it rains, and not just to get the pots but other areas of the garden that are subject to rain shadows. I find lots of people don’t really understand the difficulty of keeping a big diverse garden watered properly. You have to know what areas are subject to rain shadows by walls, trees, taller perennials. What areas have soil differences, slope differences or plants that require less or more water or areas that are subject to more sun or shade than other areas. You have to know the amount of water put out by the sprinkler and hose, the arc of the sprinkler and whether the water will be shed by the foliage above or around the area you want to water. Its all a very complicated business. Watering is a skill that must be learned.

    1. You’re right Dean, and it’s an important skill. More garden and house plants probably die from over or underwatering than from any other mistreatment. We talk about microclimates all the time, but there are also micro soil conditions. Almost no rain gets onto my raised beds now, and they’re so free draining that they guzzle water up like a sponge. I do enjoy watering though. It gives me the time to study plants at close quarters and a sense that I am really responding to their needs.

  3. Hi Dan,
    Picturing you in the dark in your odd get-up made me smile! How often I have sown veg seeds or picked tomatoes by head torch light myself! I also just wanted to say hi, and tell you how much I love reading your blog, actually the only one I follow…keep it up please. I’m Ylva at Madrona, by the way.

    1. Hi Ylva! Yes, I recognise you of course when your name pops up. Lovely to hear from you. I’ve only made it over once this year but a great hoard, including some mosses and persicarias. The catalpa and salvias I bought have done incredibly well. Will you visit Dixter for the Plant Fair? Thank you for the comment and making me your one and only blog! Dan ๐Ÿค“

  4. I stopped at that first photo because it is stunning. ๐Ÿ™‚ Then I had a good chuckle at your gardening attire. ๐Ÿ™‚ I thank you for making me stop and think about watering. I’ve always considered the plants under the trees as needing special care, but must admit I’ve never thought about containers possibly not getting the benefit from a good rain. We are currently in the midst of a week of rain from the various hurricanes. Enjoy fall gardening, Dan.

  5. Your story of being out in underpants during a storm to water your containers has made my wait at a pizza takeaway with partying 10 year olds in tow so much more bearable (picture that if you can ๐Ÿ˜‰).

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