Watering for Optimal Plant Success!
Water is the life-blood of plants. Without a steady supply of life-giving water, plants will die. However, it’s a fact that more container grown plants die from being over-watered than from being under-watered. These tips will help you determine when and how to water plants to keep them alive and thriving without wasting water.
Check plants daily to determine if they need a drink of water or not. Water only when the top inch of soil is dry, then water the plants deeply. Plants being grown in containers will need watered more often than in-ground plants, some will have to be watered twice a day in mid-summer. Look for signs of heat stress in the plants which will manifest as droopy leaves and stems. Water immediately if plant is showing signs of stress.
Plants are able to uptake water more easily in the morning than any other time of the day. As the sun rises, so does the plant’s water intake. If the moisture is readily available in the soil, the plant does not have to struggle to uptake a sufficient amount of water. Water as early in the morning as possible.
Water the soil, not the plant. Wetting the leaves will weaken the plant and make it susceptible to pests infestation and disease. Apply water to the soil and at the plant base. Certain types of container grown plants will benefit from having their humidity level increased via daily misting. Mist plants in the morning too, before the sun shines on them.
Mulch helps the soil retain moisture and keeps the soil cooler during the hot days of summer. Add a 2 inch layer of organic mulch on top of the soil after a thorough watering. Hay, shredded newspaper (black and white print only) and nut hulls are good examples of organic mulch.Help soil retain water better by mixing compost into potting soil prior to planting time. Two cups of compost per 5 gallon planting container will keep soil from compacting, keep it moist and enable roots to uptake water more easily. The compost will also help feed the plant.
The closer the water source, the more apt you are to provide the steady supply of moisture plants need. Keep water hose, watering can or rain barrel near the container garden so the plant’s thirst can be quenched quickly with minimal work.