It’s amazing how hard it can seem sometimes to keep your plants happy. It depends so much on watering, from when you water, how much, how often, and even what soil type you have! So I thought I’d put together this little primer for you on the art of watering plants to keep you ahead of the game this gardening season. Let me know if you have any tips in the comments so we can all learn from each other.
The Art of Watering Plants:
The best time of day to water is early in the morning before you go to work, about 7:00 am, when the plant will use the water most effectively. Late in the afternoon is almost as good, when the sun is low and less water will be lost to heat evaporation. If the evenings are going to be hot, avoid watering late in the day as this can lead to fungal infections, since heat promotes bacteria.
For container plants, the soil should be moist but not soaking. Water until it rises to the rim of the pot, then stop. Let the excess drain into the saucer and after fifteen minutes, if the water hasn’t been reabsorbed, toss it away. If it is a very heavy pot, a turkey baster comes in handy here to remove the excess water.
For outdoor plants in particular, a very deep soaking twice a week is better than a sprinkling several times per week. This is because the water needs to saturate up to 12 inches deep into the soil in order to reach the roots and not evaporate in the process. If the water doesn’t penetrate deeply enough, it will encourage the roots of the plant to grow up and sideways, putting them at risk for drying out in the sun. By contrast, overwatering will leach nutrients into the soil and make the plants more susceptible to fungus and disease.
By Soil Type:
The type of soil you have will also give you a sense of how much and how often to water. For example, clay soil is harder to saturate and will need to be watered for longer periods in order to penetrate to the roots but less frequently because it will hold water longer. Sandy soil requires more frequent watering since water drains quickly from it.