Did You Know?
More plants are killed by over-watering than any other cause!
Over-watering leads to root rot and other diseases; nutrients are flushed starving the plant.
Yellow leaves are the first sign of over-watering.
– On the other hand-
Under-watering is just as bad and is the second killer of all plants.
The first sign of under-watering is dried crispy leaf tips!
Most people don’t water thoroughly and when they do water, they water very frequently (watering every day). The plant never really gets the water it needs, so it always looks “sick”. The natural reaction is to add more water thinking that is the cure. Some just drown the plant every day without checking the soil to see if the plant is dry.
How Often Do I Water?
this is the most difficult question to answer. Not all plants are the same and neither is the weather or the conditions where the plant is located. So, here’s a few questions you should ask yourself before watering:
1. Is it cool or warm outside? plants need more frequent watering as the temperature increases, less with cooler weather.
2. Is it windy? hanging baskets, for instance, need more water if the wind is blowing the moisture out of them all day.
3. Where is the plant located? In the hot afternoon sun or in the morning sun? Plants located in the hot afternoon sun may need more water than plants located in morning sun.
4. What size container is the plant in? Is there space for the roots, or is it pot-bound? pot-bound plants cannot hold water like those in sufficiently sized containers and may need more frequent watering.
5. Is the plant in a pot or planted in the ground? plants in a pot need more frequent water than plants in the ground.
6. Has it rained this week? plants that are planted in the ground need less watering if there has been sufficient rain. Don’t necessarily rely on rain to water your potted plant, but definitely not hanging baskets! most hanging plants are usually hanging under an over-hang or are located under a roof of some type and don’t get water from the rain.
7. Is the plant in a house or outside exposed to the elements? Houseplants need water only once every 7 to 10 days (depending on the size pot)! Less in the winter months!
8. What size is the plant? Small plants in small containers may need water much more frequently than large plants.
Keeping those questions in mind, here’s some watering tips:
– Water your plants less frequently, but with a heavy application: this is better for your plants and saves water.
– Water your trees and shrubs with a hand-held hose so the water gets where it’s needed. Don’t rely on your sprinkler system -that works for grass, but not your trees and shrubs.
– For in-ground trees and shrubs apply water slowly to avoid run-off. Run off not only wastes water, but the roots aren’t getting any of the run-off.
– Water from the bottom, not the top. This ensures the water is getting to your plant and not blowing away in the wind. It also prevents many diseases caused by water sitting on leaves in damp conditions.
– Mulch your plants: mulching increases water penetration into the soil, prevents water loss in dry weather from evaporation, controls erosion, cuts down on weeds, and adds important nutrients to your soil. You can apply mulch to potted plants as well.
– Let most plant dry out between waterings.
– Watch your plants, most plants will tell you when they need water. For instance, hydrangeas, hibiscus, and impatiens will droop when they need water.
For In-Ground Plants: Water once or twice a week using the questions above as a guide for deciding whether more or less watering is needed. Water on a slow trickle for 30 to 45 minutes at a time.
For Potted Plants and Hanging Baskets: Water every other day or every 2 days as needed (remember, flowers like impatiens need more water than begonias do). Water thoroughly and deeply, but less frequently. If it is excessively hot and/or windy, you may have to water every day until the weather breaks. You should not water every day unless the very hot and/or windy conditions persist.
Water until water is flowing out the bottom of the pot and then continue for another minute or two. Dry soil in pots will not hold water- the water will run right through the pot making it appear that the plant has been watered when, in fact, the soil was so dry that moisture fell right through without moistening the soil. So, to make sure the container is sufficiently moistened, continue to let the water flow out the bottom of the pot for several minutes.
This type of thorough watering means that you have to water less frequently and ensures that the plant is really getting water. As always, keep your plants fertilized. All that water can starve your plants of nutrients.