6 Tips For Watering Plants Growing in Containers - Backyard Boss
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6 Tips For Watering Plants Growing in Containers

Have you ever wondered if your plants are receiving enough water or what factors can influence how much water your plants are actually getting? For those eager to get started with growing plants in containers these 6 tips can set you on your way to nurturing a healthy plant.

1. Pick your pot

Three succulents on a desk
Image credit:Valeriia Miller via Pexels

It’s important to understand the various benefits and uses of different pots, before choosing which type of container would be best suited to growing your plants in. The terra cotta pot allows more water to flow and drain through it, in comparison to glazed ceramic or plastic containers. This means that plants in terra cotta pots may need to be watered more often. The size of containers will also play a role in how often your plants need to be watered. Larger pots can hold more water at a time, therefore reducing the need for frequent watering.

Regardless of the material that your pot is made of or its dimensions, it is essential to choose a pot that has at least one drainage hole. This will allow excess water to escape, and it makes overwatering more preventable. It is also recommended for the overall health of the plant since pots without drainage will accumulate water at the base which will make it prone to rot.

Leave around a one- or two-inch distance between the brim of the container and the soil line. This ensures that when you are watering your plant, the water and soil won’t run off the sides of the container and it keeps the moisture in.

2. Research your plants

Woman using a spray bottle to water plant
Image credit:Ketut Subiyanto via Pexels

Different plants will have different watering needs, so it’s important to research the environment best suited for your plant before anything. Most times, the plant tags will give you a good idea of the water requirements for that plant. Succulents are a great beginner plant, as they don’t require a frequent watering schedule and do well in between watering sessions even if the soil is slightly dry. You can expect to water succulents once or twice a week. On the other hand, flowering plants and vegetable plants like the soil to be consistently moist which means watering daily or every other day.  Regardless of which plants you choose, it is important to regularly monitor the soil quality and water when the soil is dry below the surface.

3. Select a watering instrument

Child watering soil around flower plant.
Image credit:Antoni Shkraba via Pexels

Choosing what tool to water your plants with is something that you can experiment with until you find a method that works best for you. Some options are using a spray bottle, hose, or watering can. A good option for indoor plants is to use a spray bottle. With the spray bottle, you can apply a fine mist to plants in addition to general watering. Similarly, it is easy to control the amount of water coming out of a spray bottle and it doesn’t require access to an external water source in the same way a hose does.

4. Water around the plant or from the bottom

Faded roses with dried petals.
Manuela via Pixabay

Make sure you water the soil around the plant until the water is draining out the bottom of the container. Do not water the bulbs or leaves of your plant, as it may cause wilting or fungal disease. Also, watering directly on the foliage does not ensure that the water reaches the roots, where it is needed for the development of a strong and healthy plant. If you have a plant tray you can also try bottom watering. Watering your plants from the bottom ensures that the root maintains moisture and is getting the amount of water it needs. It also creates stronger roots because the plant naturally grows towards the source of the moisture.

5. Understanding when plants are overwatered or underwatered

Woman checking soil quality and dryness.
Image credit:Ketut Subiyanto via Pexels

We all make mistakes, and when it comes to taking care of plants it can be easy to forget to water them or we may give them much more water than they need. Common signs to look out for that let you know your plant craves more water is when you see the leaves are dried up and light yellow. The plant will display slow growth and will have leaves dropping when it is underwatered. Overwatered plants will also appear discolored with a yellow or brown hue, but the difference will be in the texture of their leaves. The leaves will be wilted and soft to the touch. If the stem of the plant is mushy that is another sign of overwatering.

Once you determine that your plant needs either more or less water, adjust your watering schedule accordingly. For an overwatered plant, it is imperative to stop watering it completely for a few weeks or until you notice that the soil is completely dry. In cases where the stem or roots have become significantly affected due to overwatering, you may need to repot the plant and trim away the unhealthy parts of the root.

6. Water plants when they need it

gardener watering plant
Image credit: freemixer via Canva

Unless you are in a completely controlled environment where things like temperature and sunlight are not changing, you will need to adjust your plants’ watering schedule depending on the plants’ response to these external factors. The amount of water a plant requires will vary within different seasons. For example, it is common to water your plants daily in the summer months, especially if they are kept outdoors because their soil will consume water much faster. To check if the soil needs to be watered, stick a finger a couple of inches into the soil. If it feels completely dry below the surface you can begin to water the plant.

In Summary

Whether you are just starting out with growing your own plants in containers or have wondered how to improve the livelihood of your potted plants, this guide helps you in understanding your plant’s water needs and in choosing the right equipment for caring for your plants.

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