This week we are reaching record temperatures for the year and many of our container plants are at serious risk of dying. The rule of thumb is that the bigger the container, the better able it is to hold moisture. The smaller the container, the more apt it will be to become distressed more quickly.
Watering is easy! Consider it a therapeutic break in your busy schedule to water the containers that give you so much visual appeal. Follow these 7 simple watering tips to ensure success:
- Finger Test – Stick your index finger into the soil at least 2-3” deep. If it comes out clean, your soil is dry and you should water right away. If your finger is covered with soil, you can probably stand to wait.
- Water the soil, not the leaves – Hold the water nozzle close to the base of the plants to water. Watering from too high above the plants can damage tender plants. Some plants are susceptible to the leaves burning if water droplets get on them. Wet leaves increase the chance for fungus. This method allows the roots to get the water they need to grow and expand down into the soil.
- Water in the morning – Research suggests that the best time to water is in the morning so the plants can dry out during the day. Evening watering increases the chance of fungus and disease. Unless the plants are very dry and you must water in midday or evening, you should do so only occasionally.
- Water deeply – Drench your plants (lightly and slowly) with a good long drink. The rule of thumb is that when the water stops absorbing into the soil it is done. When the water does not disappear and just starts to pool, you are done. Another sign to stop is when the water begins to drain out of the bottom of the pot.
- Rainy days are not always enough – The foliage of the plants may likely prevent the raindrops from penetrating into the soil of your pot. Do not rely on the rain to water your plants. Seeing is believing! Check with the finger test to see if you need to water after it rains, especially in hot weather.
- Once is not always enough – Notice if your container is in a windy, hot situation. You may have to water more than once a day in extreme heat. Some plants require more water than others.
- Remove dead plant debris and spent blossoms – Keep the base of the containers clean and free of debris. Pinch or prune off spent or dead blossoms to accelerate blossoms. Think of dead leaves as “bug food”. They feed on this. Good plant hygiene contributes to beautiful plants.
Take time to observe the shape of the leaves before and after you water and you will learn their water requirements by simply by looking at the shape of the leaves. The following example illustrates this:
Which plant do you think looks distressed?
Become “one” with your plants and take a brief break out of your day to keep your containers looking gorgeous and healthy just like you. Stay cool!