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How To Water Container Plants

Many a new plant has been killed by improper watering. With a bit of practice and a few of these guidelines, watering your plants can become second nature and you won’t even have to think about it.

How Often Do I Water Container Plants?

How often do I water my plants? is probably the most common question when one talks about watering container plants. There is no one single answer to this question. Watering plants in containers can sometimes be a constant adjustment.

When planting in a pot, the single most important factor in my opinion is to have good drainage. When you water any container, for the vast majority of plants out there, you want to see water coming out the bottom of the container. This is a good sign that you have proper drainage. Although, I will discuss later that this can mean you have let the potting mix dry out way past its worth.

Good drainage is what keeps your roots healthy in most plants. Healthy roots mean happy plants!

If a plant is in a pot without proper drainage, then there is a greater chance of over watering which can lead to many problems including the demise of your plant!

When watering your containers, treat each pot as its own environment. Just because one pot needs water, does not mean all of them need the same amount of water.

Check The Soil

Make a point to check the soil in your containers. A good rule of thumb is to only water your container if the top of the soil looks dry. Visually, damp soil will be darker, and dry soil will be lighter. Most potting soil is made of some variation of peat moss and it will be light brown when dry. 

This may not always be practical if your flower or houseplant is flourishing and filling the container. If you can get to it, stick your finger in the dirt to see if the soil is damp.

You may wind up watering your container more often than one time a day. The type of material that your container is made of can also play a heavy factor. A terracotta container is porous and will lose water a lot faster than say a glazed, or one the looks shiny, ceramic pot. The size of your container will affect your watering frequency as well.

Give Them Plenty of Water

While watering your containers, it is best to use enough water to wet the entire root area. If you have good drainage, this is easy to do because you should see water coming out of the bottom.

Watering your container plants this way is effective because it will encourage roots to spread out in the container and not just remain on the top. If you do not water deep enough, the roots will stay near the surface where the water is up top.

They will never develop past this area of damp soil. This can cause them to dry out quicker, causing them to wilt and become stressed much easier.

You should not have to water as often if you fully water them either. Consider upgrading to a larger pot to eliminate frequent watering as well.

When you first buy your plant, if it is small, and the weather is much milder early on, you may only need to water once a week. As the plant grows bigger, the root ball gets bigger so be prepared to water every day as the temperatures rise.

If you live in an open area that is windy, this can also cause your plants to dry up quicker, especially hanging baskets made of coconut coir.

Re-Hydrate Your Potting Soil

If watering your container plants has been on the back burner so to speak, you may need to do a little more to get your plant rehydrated. Most potting soils are capable of drying out to the point of being water repellent.

 You will be able to tell if they are at this point when you go to water them. Notice the soil is actually hard and pulled away from the sides of the pot. When watered, the water just goes straight down the sides of the pot and out the bottom.

One way to remedy this is to place it inside a bucket or larger container filled with water and let it soak until the soil inside becomes damp and expands.

If this technique isn’t feasible or if you have a huge pot, just give yourself a little time between each watering. About a half hour should suffice. After four or five waterings, enough water should have soaked into the root ball to help and re-hydrate your plant.

As the growing season moves along, these simple guidelines should help you keep most of your containers watered properly and the plants will continue to perform well.

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