“How often do I water my plant?” is undoubtedly the most frequently asked question about plants and also one of the hardest questions to answer!
Here’s the simple answer: Water when the plant gets dry. 9 out of 10 times when we see a watering problem it is due to overwatering – for whatever reason people seem to love watering plants. For this reason, we generally recommend watering when the plant gets dry. The best water meter is your finger. Feel the dirt around the plant, if it feels wet don’t water. A quick word of warning: An under and over watered plant will look very similar (wilting etc.) therefore the best test is to feel the dirt.
Now for the complex answer to help you better understand when to water! First, we need to ask you a few questions:
- How much sun is your plant in?
- How hot/cold has it been?
- Has the air been humid or dry?
- How much wind and breeze does your plant receive?
- What kind of soil is it planted in?
We could go on with more questions but you get the idea there are lots of variables that determine how often to water mainly related to the weather and conditions around the plant. That circles us back around to the simple answer: Water when the plant gets dry. While this may seem like a “smarty plants” (yes plants, not pants) answer, it really is the best answer.
All that said here are a some pointers to help guide your watering decisions:
For annual flowers and vegetables planted in the ground: Water them when you initially plant. After that, normally, Mother Nature will take care of them. If you have a dry spell with little to no rainfall you may need to water a little. Again, check the dirt around the plant.
For annual flowers and vegetables planted in pots: Water needs in the spring season varies considerably depending on the weather. If the dirt feels very wet, don’t water. During the summer season, you’ll likely need to water potted plants in full sun every day. Pots in shade may be able to go 2-3 days without water but they may need water everyday too – feel the dirt. On a humid summer day plants won’t dry as fast but a windy breezy day will dry plants quickly.
For trees and shrubs planted in the ground: Unless Mother Nature waters for you*, you’ll need to give your newly planted trees and shrubs a slow soaking water** once every 5-7 days for the first growing season. For trees/shrubs planted in the spring you’ll want to make sure they stay watered through the fall. Planted in the fall, you’ll need to keep them water though fall and potentially a little water if winter is very dry though plants generally don’t need much water in the winter. Established trees and shrubs should not need watering.
*An afternoon thunder shower does not count as Mother Nature watering for you. An all-day slow soaking rain does count.
**For a slow soaking watering, we recommend turning your hose on barely drip-dripping and laying it on top of the plant’s root ball for about 5-6 hours. Some people put the hose on when they leave for work and turn it off when they get home – this strategy works too. A soaker hose is also an option if you have a lot of plants to water.
Hose won’t reach? Poke a hole in a 5 gallon bucket, fill it up with water, set it on the root ball, and let the water drain.
Now you know the simple and complex answer to the question of “How often do I water?”!
As always, let us know if you have any specific questions.
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