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Watering 101: How Much and How Often to Water Plants

Everyday we get questions about watering. The biggest thing is knowing when and how much to water your plants. We’ve compiled these tips and tricks to help you know when and how to water during those hot summer months.

How often to water:

How often to water plants is the number one question Ashcombe employees get asked. However, that’s really hard to answer. There are an unlimited amount of variables that can tell you when and how much to water a plant.

  • Is it newly planted or well established?
  • Is the outside temperature hot or cold?
  • Is the plant in constant sun or shade?
  • How much water does it really need?
  • How much water did you give it last time?

With so many variables that determine when to water, it is hard for us to help you determine a watering schedule. However there are ways to determine when a plant is thirsty.

Signs you need to water:

Water plants that are wilting
  1. Wilting: One of the very simple to spot and most obvious ways to tell your plant needs water is whether the flowers and leaves are wilted. Wilting can also be an indicator of heat stress. Heat stress is caused during a period of time where temperatures are high enough to cause irreversible damage to plant function and development.
  2. Yellow Leaves: When your plant’s leaves start to yellow around the edges AND the soil is dry, you need to water. Yellowing in leaves can mean one of two things. One, your soil is too wet and the roots are suffocating. Or, two, your soil is too dry and the plant is starving for water. Be sure to check the soil when you see yellowing leaves before grabbing the watering can.
  3. Stunted Growth: If there is a change in the rate of growth of your plant, it could be time to water. Another indicator of stunted growth is seeing less blooms than you’d expect on an otherwise healthy plant.
  4. Weight: When you are watering potted plants or hanging baskets, be sure to test the weight before and after you water to note the difference. Then next time you need to water you can check the weight to determine how much water you may need.

Watering right:

When you are watering there are specific tips and tricks to make sure your plants are getting the most out of their drink. First is to avoid broadcast watering, this is when you coat the entire plant in water instead of focusing on the root system. Doing broadcast watering can lead to dried roots and mildew covered leaves, or even plant disease. You need to be sure there is enough time and the weather is right for the water to evaporate. Another issue with broadcast watering is scalding. If the water does not evaporate from the leaves, the sun can heat up the droplets and can burn the leaves.

Big Tip: On a very hot summer day, be sure to run the hose water for a second before turning to water your plants. The hot water in your hose can also cause scalding or burn the plant.

When you’re watering aim the hose or watering can directly at the base of the plant, focusing on the root system. Do your best to avoid getting water on the leaves if you can.

Saturate the entire root system when you’re watering to make sure you’re giving your plants the most nourishing drink. You can use the weight test or check the soil to be sure you’ve watered enough.

Watering hanging baskets:

Saturate until water drains out the bottom of the container.

Being sure to give your hanging baskets the best watering is difficult. In many cases, it is not uncommon to water your hanging baskets more than once per day, especially if it is very hot outside and your plant is in direct sunlight. Each time you water a hanging basket you have to be sure you’re giving them enough. You need to make sure that you’re saturating the entire root system until water drains out the bottom of the pot. If you water your hanging baskets in the morning, you may want to check them again in the afternoons of July and August.

Checking your moisture level:

There are ways to tell if your plants are dry as we’ve mentioned before, but what about your soil? The weight test is always good for hanging baskets. Once you see the watering draining from the pot in a steady stream, left the basket and test the weight. You can also use moisture meters to test the dampness in the soil, but those can get expensive. Our favorite hack is to use barbeque skewers. Take a skewer or stick and put it down in the soil at least 3 or 4 inches. With a dry basket, your stick will come out clean. If your plant is fully saturated, it will come out dirty.

Check moisture levels with BBQ skewers to know when to water

Check out Kerri in action talking through the ins and outs of watering.

We hope this helps you understand watering a bit more! For more tips and tricks, visit our blog, Gardening Guides.

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