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Guide to Watering Plants: The Do's and Dont's of Watering Plants

Guide to Watering Plants: The Do's and Dont's of Watering Plants

No matter what color your thumb, you likely already know that all plants need water to reach their full potential. But what you might not know is that incorrect watering techniques can put plants at risk for disease and even kill them. Following these best and worst practices for watering plants indoors and out will help eliminate the guess work of keeping plants happy and health.

Watering Outdoor Plants

1. DO water plants in the morning

The most efficient time to water outdoor flowers and vegetables is before the heat of the day when the soil is cool and the water has the best chance of seeping down to the roots of the plants before evaporating. Watering plants early will ensure that they have sufficient storage of moisture beneath the soil to withstand the heat of a hot summer day.

2. DON’T water too frequently or too little

Especially during hot weather, it may be tempting to water just enough and often enough to keep the soil damp. Shallow surface watering, however, discourages deep root development. Instead, choose a less frequent watering routine that thoroughly saturates the soil. This method encourages the roots to reach deeply for residual water, even when the surface of the soil appears dry.

3. DO water plants at soil level

Directing water at the base of your plants delivers the hydration right where it’s needed: the roots. When watering, place the end of the hose right at the soil in the pots. Always avoid getting water on the foliage of the plants. Water on the foliage has the tendency to promote the spread fungus and decease. Resulting a plant that is not health and will be less likely to survive.

4. DON’T use broadcast sprinklers

In addition to soaking the plant’s leaves, which can increase the risk of a fungal disease, broadcast sprinklers are simply inefficient. On a hot or windy day, much of the water distributed by this type of sprinkler can evaporate before it even reaches the plant and less water goes to the base of the plant.

5. DO water outdoor container plants at least once per day

Soil in containers and flowerpots dries out more quickly than soil in a garden plot or flower bed. The smaller the container, the more frequently you need to water. Soak the soil in containers in the morning, and, if the temperature climbs to 90 or above, give them another soaking in the afternoon.

6. DO use a wand to water container plants

A watering wand extends the reach of your arm, allowing you to direct water at soil level in overhead hanging plants and in short, ground-level flowerpots on the ground without having to stretch or stoop. You’ll conserve water by directing only the amount needed to the base of the plant and you’ll save your back.

7. DON’T water container plants with a jet-type spray nozzle

Pressurized nozzles are great for washing off driveways and sidewalks, but the spray that they deliver can damage tender foliage and blossoms. It can also disturb the soil around the roots of a container plant. If you don’t have a watering wand, just remove the nozzle from the garden hose, hook the hose into the hanging pot or container, and let the water run out slowly.

8. DO check moisture levels

Plants can suffer when the soil dries out. On the flip side, they don’t like “wet feet,” meaning they also suffer if their roots are sitting in water and not getting sufficient oxygen. On a hot, windy day, the soil’s surface may appear dry, while the ground beneath is still moist, so it’s essential to perform a quick check to ensure you don’t overwater. Keep a wooden dowel handy and insert it a few inches into the soil of the pot and then pull it out and check it. Moist soil will stick to the dowel, but if it comes out clean, the soil is dry, and it’s time to water.

9. DON’T rely on rain

Most garden plants, flowers, and shrubs do best when they receive at least 1 inch of water per week, although they may need more during hot, dry spells. Rain isn’t always sufficient at supplying enough water for plants to thrive, so don’t count on it to keep plants healthy.

10. DON’T forget to dump the water collection tray

When watering, excess H2O will drain into the collection tray beneath the plant almost immediately, but don’t pour it right away the plant may reabsorb some of it within the next 30 minutes. After that, go ahead and dump. Allowing a plant to sit in standing water increases the risk of root rot, a potentially deadly development for the plant.

Final Thoughts

In addition to light and oxygen, plants need water to thrive. Good watering practices will result in healthy plants.

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