The fine gardening approach to hand-watering.
There are many ways to provide your garden with the water required to keep everything vibrant and blooming, season after season. If you are a current flower customer, you might have already had us install irrigation lines directly into your containers. This can be the most efficient way to ensure the proper amount of water is delivered to your containers each week. However, there are times when this method is not the best option. We offer hand-watering services for those with properties that do not support irrigation as part of a container-specific maintenance program.
But you might have decided that you want to water your containers yourself. When done correctly, this can be a rewarding experience, as your flowers will thrive under your watch. We want to help you discover the best results when watering at home, so we've outlined our watering processes here.
How Much to Water
Knowing the watering requirements for your containers can include several factors, so it's essential to start with the size of the planter. A larger planter is going to require more water than a smaller one. This is because all of the soil needs to be moistened evenly, not just towards the top or bottom. Another consideration is what is planted in your containers. For example, succulents appreciate a drier soil environment while veggies require plentiful water. Fortunately, for our purposes, the annuals and perennials we use typically agree that soil should be moist but well-drained. We also achieve this balance by selecting the right soil, but that's for another lesson.
Here are a few additional factors to aid in determining the moisture needs of your containers:
Having drainage holes at the bottom of your containers is wise for a few reasons. The important ones boil down to the ability for water to drain from the soil, which promotes proper airflow.
But drainage holes are an essential aspect of watering your containers because this is how you will be able to ensure that your soil is being fully saturated. In the next section, we will talk about deep watering and how to ensure your containers have been deeply watered.
A final consideration for determining the watering requirements of your containers is their location. Containers located by your front door are likely shaded under the portico. A container that receives the least sun will require the least water. Alternatively, a container with full sun exposure will need the most water to combat evaporation.
Using a Moisture Meter
A moisture meter is a hand-held device for testing the amount of moisture in your soil. Sticking the end of the meter into the soil will provide a quick reading to let you know if your soil is dry, moist, or wet. Of course, dry isn't good, but neither is wet. Overwatering can lead to the damage and death of your plants, so using a moisture meter to know how much water your container needs is a critical first step.
If You Don't Have One
If you don't have a moisture meter, there are several physical and visual exams you can run on your soil to determine its moisture needs.
Begin by looking at the leaves and stems of a plant. A plant that needs water may appear wilted. This means that the color may be a bit darker while the structure of the stem is leaning, tipping, or bent. Wilted leaves will look dark and shriveled.
Next, turn your attention to the soil. If it is dry, it will appear to be lighter in color.
Touching the soil will reveal even more about its watering needs. Soil that feels dry to the touch or powdery is likely in desperate need of water.
One final method for testing the moisture of your plants is to lift the container. This is often not possible, especially with larger containers, but it can still be a suitable method for determining the watering needs of more miniature houseplants. A dehydrated pot will feel much lighter than you might expect, so getting a feel for the weight of your plants when adequately watered can be a helpful tool.
How to Water
Watering cans come in all shapes and sizes,
ranging from a few ounces for the micro garden in your kitchen to the large green 2-gallon cans you may have seen us with around your property. You also may have noticed that some cans have an attachment on the end that spreads the flow of water into many gentle streams. This attachment is called a rose, but you'll see that we don't use them when watering containers. This is because the rose attachment is best used for germinated seedlings to ensure the flow of water will not destroy the seedling's delicate environment. Generally, you'll want to remove this attachment from your can at home, especially when watering containers. Without the rose, you will be able to more easily control water flow to the individual root systems on each plant.
Using a Hose
Hoses can also be used when watering containers and may be even more convenient than watering cans for larger garden sections, such as bedding. There is also the benefit of using a spray gun attachment with your hose. A spray gun can provide a rain-like effect when watering, which can be great for areas in the garden that need a serious soaking. However, knowing which setting your spray gun is on is essential, as too harsh a stream can act more like a power washer. (Goodbye, beautiful blooms.) So be sure you're using a gentle shower setting. If you don't have a spray gun attachment on hand, or your's is too powerful, you can always dial the water pressure back and use your hose similarly to how you would use a can without the rose. You can even squeeze the hose towards the opening to choke back the flow and give you better control over where you water.
Deep watering is the smart strategy of experienced gardeners that ensures both planters and beds are watered consistently, sufficiently, and evenly.
This strategy refers to a style of watering that allows the soil to be soaked to the desired depth, at least several inches down. Watering this way helps more water get directly where the plants need it most - at the roots. The plant is taught that it will receive an appropriate amount of water in the appropriate time, allowing it to withstand prolonged periods without watering. As part of the method, it's actually important to hold off between waterings until the soil has dried out completely. This provides training that promotes more substantial root growth over time. Deep watering is also employed when watering trees and shrubs as it is a superior method for establishing solid and hardy roots. Similar strategies can be used to cultivate a lush, green lawn in the summer months.
It's always good to keep plants well-watered before planting, but we will take care of that step for you. What's important is how you take care of your containers once we've left. Be sure to direct watering to the very bottom of the plant stem so that the water may get to the roots more easily. It's important to avoid watering the leaves and petals directly. While some water is okay as it will inevitably splash onto all part of your plant, watering the leaves and petals directly can kill the most beautiful parts of the plant, destroying the look of your container and ultimately rotting the plant from the outside in. The best time of day to water is first thing in the morning or the evening after the sun has gone down. These times keep the majority of the water from evaporating before it gets to the most important parts of your plants. It's a good rule of thumb when watering containers to continue watering slowly until water begins to run from the bottom of your pot. This means the soil has been fully saturated.