Watering can seem daunting but here are some pointers to make it easier to understand how much and when your plants may need water. More than anything keeping an eye on your plants lets you know their exact conditions over time.
Do not water on a set schedule, plants will need different levels of water depending on the weather or season etc.
- Seasonal: Plants grow faster and bloom more in summer and spring and will need to be watered more often than in winter or autumn when the growth slows down or stops.
- Water the soil around the plants to moisten the roots rather than the leaves or the stem.
- Water early in the morning or early afternoon to ensure your plants do not dry out during the day or sit and soak in water overnight, opening the plant foliage to rot and other diseases.
- Water the soil slowly and thoroughly to give time for the roots to absorb the water. Once water starts dripping out of the drainage holes in the pot, that is enough water. If planting in the ground, water mature annuals approximately 4-8 inches deep and mature perennials 6-12 inches deep (check with finger or stick). Oscillate the watering can or hose to water the soil evenly. Shower style watering cans are better for watering your plants.
Watering during sowing: Seeds are more fragile and cannot withstand extremes as well as seedlings or full-grown plants can, so this is a good time to check on the seeds more often. Lightly water until the top 1-2 inches of soil are thoroughly soaked. You can check this by sticking your finger in the soil. The seed should not stay dry for more than a day and should not be sitting in water for long. A pot or tray with good drainage holes and well-draining soil will prevent either from happening.
5 ways to check if your plant needs water
- Lift Test (for lighter, potted plants)
Check what your plant’s weight feels like by lifting the pot before you water the plant, then do the same after you have watered the plant thoroughly and slowly. This gives you a good idea of when your plant is drying out and needs water.
- Moisture Meter
Stick your moisture meter 4-6 inches in the soil 2 inches away from the stalk and check the measurement. It will either be dry, moist, or wet. Most plants are happy in the moist region. Be careful not to damage roots.
- Finger Check
Stick two fingers 2-3 inches in the soil knuckle down (more sensitive). If it feels dry, it is time to water. If your fingers come out with some dirt clumps, then you do not need to water it.
- Cake Check
Take a smooth wooden stick and dip it into the soil - it should go in easily and come out with some dirt clumps on it. If you feel resistance on the stick, then it is dry and needs to be watered.
- Eye Check
Check the color of the soil— you will notice the progression of darker to lighter color as the soil goes from wet to dry. Plants that have not had water for a prolonged period will start to get droopy, wilting leaves. Keep in mind overwatering also makes the leaves on your plant wilt or droop so make sure to check when the last time your plant was watered.
Signs of overwatering (Do not water more)
- Root Rot
You can smell mildew from the soil. This means the soil is oversaturated and is limiting the ability of the roots to breathe. If the plant sits in water for long, the roots begin to rot.
- Brown Leaves or Yellow Falling Leaves
Too much water causes leaves to wilt and turn dull. Although wilting can be a sign of other problems, it is best to check the soil before watering.
When plants absorb more water than they need, their cells expand and eventually rupture. You can check for big blisters or lesions on the stalk and stems of the plant.
- Wet and Wilting
At the first sign of wilting, people often feel the plants need to be watered. Be sure to check it is not already wet before adding more water.