How to Decide When to Water Your Plants

How to Decide When to Water Your Plants
by Keith Markensen

Many gardeners have difficulty deciding how often their plants should be watered. The amount of water plants need varies greatly and depends on the rate at which the plant absorbs water.

Plants which are actively growing require more water than those that are not currently growing. Those which have many roots filling the pot require more water to maintain their growth than ones which are smaller and not as well established.

The time of year also affects the water needs of plants. During the growing season, which usually lasts from April until October, most plants require more water than they use in the rest of the year. However, there are some exceptions, so be sure you understand your plant’s growing season when you’re deciding how much to water them.

You should inspect your plants daily to determine whether it is time for watering. Some plants will need watering every day, while others will only need watering every few days.

One way to tell when your plant needs watering is to feel the soil. Potted plants should be watered when the soil is moderately dry, and should be given enough water to soak through to the drainage hole. Many roots are located far down into the pot, so it is important that the water reaches all the way down to them.

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It may be hard to tell when the soil is dry enough to require watering. One test is to tap the pot about halfway down with your knuckles or a wooden hammer. If this results in a light hollow sound, you should water the plant. If it results in a dull noise, the soil is wet enough. However, if the soil is not packed down, this test will not work.

When watering your plant, the water should be room temperature. You can use either rain water or tap water. It is actually quite easy to overwater your plants, so you should be extremely careful when watering them. If you do overwater, the tips of your plants may become yellow or brown. If this happens, stop watering the plant until the soil dries out, and poke the soil all over with a pointed sick to aerate it, helping the soil dry quickly. If the soil grows moss or algae due to overwatering, you need to remove this coating. If you want your plants to be safe for overwatering it is good to use an Automatic plant watering system.

Before you water your houseplants, you should set the pots in saucers or bowls to catch the drainage. Use glazed containers if you plan to set the plants on woodwork or other items which would be damaged by the moisture. You can also set smaller potted plants in hanging baskets or larger plants to catch the excess water.

Many plants need fertilizer in addition to the water. These especially include plants which are in their growing season, generally May to August. Bulb plants may require fertilizer at other times of the year, however. You can use liquid fertilizer, or tablets which are to be mixed with water. This should not be overlooked if you want your plants to thrive.

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