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How to (properly) water your plants

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

It may not be as simple as you think. Ensure your plants get adequate moisture by following these simple watering principles.

Most plants need plenty of water to thrive. But consistent, adequate watering is something many people get wrong -- particularly during our hot Texas summer months. So in this short post, we'll offer some straightforward tips for watering your plants the right way.

Take your time

Shallow watering is probably the most common mistake people make when watering plants. This happens when people water at high volume, stopping once the surface of the soil seems wet. This concentrates moisture near the surface of the ground, encouraging plants to develop shallow root systems. A better approach is to water gently, for a longer period of time, distributing the water throughout the plant's entire "root zone" (the soil area roughly a little wider than the plant's spread and almost as deep as the plant's height). This encourages plants to send out longer, deeper roots, which enables them to find and use water more efficiently in the future.

Don't trust the rain

It's smart to let Mother Nature do her thing when there's consistent rain in the forecast, but it's dangerous to assume that a ten-minute shower (or even the occasional seasonal downpour) is going to be an adequate substitute for your regular watering on any given day. Many plants have deep root systems that surface-level moisture won't reach. We suggest keeping a rain gauge near your garden beds. If you've received less than an inch after a particular rain event, chances are most of your plants will need some supplemental watering.

Water early

The ideal time for watering plants is first thing in the morning, before the daytime heat begins to stress your plants and dry up the soil. This leaves adequate time for the plants to take in plenty of water at the roots while also enabling foliage to dry during the daytime warm-up period. Many people mistakenly assume that it is equally beneficial to water in the evenings, when temperatures are falling and the sun evaporates less moisture from the soil. However, overreliance on end-of-day watering can actually create fungal issues for many plants on account of excess moisture that doesn't have time to dry overnight. An occasional evening watering is fine, but you'll want to avoid making it your daily habit.

Pay special attention to container plants

It's critical that potted plants have adequate drainage, such that water can escape from the bottom. When the surface soil is dry, water slowly and gently until water begins coming out of the bottom. This coaxes the plant to grow its root system to fill the entire soil area within the container. Keep in mind that container plants are more exposed to the elements than in-ground plants, so especially during the hottest summer months, they may require more frequent watering than other plants in your garden. But there is no one-size-fits-all watering approach when dealing with container plants because different containers (including size and materials used) and plant combinations create unique watering scenarios. Some pots might need to be watered more frequently than others, and some might be more prone to overwatering than others. Check them frequently!

Be consistent

This is probably the most important rule of any good watering regime. Even with proper watering technique, inconsistent application is a sure way to stunt plant growth and leave room for insects or disease to set in. You may not need to actually water your plants every day, but you'll want to at least make the rounds to check up on soil moisture frequently, especially during the hottest months of the season.

If you're not sure whether you're giving your plants too much or too little water, remember that we're here to help! Call or stop by and our experts will be happy to take care of you.


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