Watering Tips To Keep Your Plants Healthy & Thriving
Balancing plant water needs is like having a healthy diet. Everything should be consumed in moderation. Provide your plants with enough water for good health, but don't flood them with it.
The best way to know how water behaves in your soil is to dig a test hole one to two feet deep and fill with water. If it drains away in an hour or two you have excellent drainage. If it drains overnight, you have adequate drainage. If it stands any longer, you have poor drainage.
Set a rain gauge in an open area of your garden to learn how much water your garden receives in a week. After each rainfall, check the depth of the rain inside.
Water In The Morning
Watering in the mornings gives plants a chance absorb the moisture before the hot sun or strong winds evaporate the water. It also allows the leaves to dry before evening. Frequent wet foliage during the night can lead to fungal diseases.
Water Only When Needed
Water timers are a great invention, but you should not automatically water your lawn and garden without checking the moisture. Too much water can be just as damaging to plants as too little water. Before watering, check your garden's soil moisture with your finger. Push it into the ground around your plants. You want the top 2 or 3 inches of the soil to be dry, and the soil below that to be moist.
If the soil clings to your fingers and feels moist to touch, don't water. If, soil falls loosely off your fingers and is dry to the touch, then water.
The best way to water is to apply it at a rate that the soil will absorb without runoff. By watering deeply the first season, you'll help your plants to grow deep root systems. Newly planted plants may need to be watered more often for the first few weeks. Check on them daily, but only water if needed.
Trees And Shrubs
Watering is the most common issue with new trees and shrubs. New plants typically need a lot of water for the first year or two as they establish. *Water requirements will vary depending on plant type, weather conditions, time of year and soil structure.
- Imagine thoroughly soaking the entire root ball when watering, as well as the soil around and below it. The goal is to soak below the root system to encourage deep rooting. Water slowly to reduce runoff. This is best achieved with a soaker hose, or garden hose left on trickle. Hand watering is not sufficient.
- As a guideline, a slow trickle for 10 minutes for every gallon size container. For example, a plant that comes from a 1-gallon size container should be slowly watered for 10 minutes, 3 gallons - 30 minutes, etc.
- Do not water every day, which can suffocate roots. Give your new plant a good soaking every couple of days, letting the soil dry out in between waterings. Watering frequencies may vary from week to week depending on weather conditions.
- Do not rely on rain. Use a rain gauge to properly monitor rainfall. A slow steady rain with an inch or more within a week period is required to be sufficient.
- Morning watering will help to prevent diseases and evaporation of moisture. Continue watering regularly throughout the first year. You should check the plant’s watering needs for at least the first two growing seasons.
- If we have a rainy spring, it is even more critical that you monitor watering later in the season.
- Do not let plants go into winter dry. One good last soaking before the ground freezes is beneficial, particularly on evergreens.
In hot weather containers may need to be watered every day sometimes twice a day depending on the size of the pot. Water until the water comes out the drainage hole at the bottom. It is important to remember not to let containers sit in water. Always make sure their saucers are empty and that you have good drainage. Remember that you will need to feed your container plants frequently as the fertilizer will leach out of the soil ball with frequent watering.
Mulching reduces surface runoff and slows evaporation along with reducing weed problems. As an added bonus mulching may also prevent certain kinds of soil diseases from coming into contact with your plants leaves, and it makes the garden look tidy, too.