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watering methods

Pay particular attention to watering container plants. Because the volume of soil is relatively small, containers can dry out very quickly, especially on a concrete patio in full sun. Daily or even twice-daily watering may be necessary.


Apply water until it runs out the drainage holes. On an upstairs balcony this may create problems w/the neighbor downstairs, so make provisions for water drainage. Large trays filled w/coarse marble chips work nicely. However, the soil should never be soggy or have water standing on top of it.


When the weather is cool, container plants may be subject to root rots if maintained too wet. Clay pots & other porous containers allow additional evaporation from the sides of the pots & watering must be done more often. Small pots also tend to dry out more quickly than larger ones.


If the soil appears to be getting excessively dry (plants wilting every day is one sign), group the containers together so that the foliage creates a canopy to help shade the soil & keep it cool.


On a hot patio, you might consider putting containers on pallets or other structures that will allow air movement beneath the pots & prevent direct contact w/the cement. Check containers at least once a day & twice on hot, dry or windy days. Feel the soil to determine whether or not it is damp.


Mulching & windbreaks can help reduce water requirements for containers. If you are away a lot, consider an automatic drip emitter irrigation system.


Caring for Container Plants



With container gardening, nothing is more important than water. Plant roots are not able to search out water on their own. Don't be misled by rainfall; it will not be of much importance in supplying moisture to your container plants.


When watering your plants, always make sure you are reaching the roots. Watering the surface does little good. Apply water until it begins trickling out the bottom.


This can be deceiving if the plant is excessively dry, because the water sometimes will run down the sides of the container into the drain holes, not penetrating the rootball. Wet the soil w/small successive doses of water until you are sure the rootball is saturated.


Frequency of watering will vary according to weather, size of the plant & type of container.

  • Try always to water before plants show signs of wilting or stress.
  • In summer, daily watering of container plants is often required.
  • Early morning & evening are the best times to water. Watering in hot summer sun can scorch foliage.

slowly absorb the information....

Overhead watering


Watering plants from above w/a hose or watering can is the simplest & most common method of watering.


Ideally, the water should be applied like a light spring rain w/fine gentle droplets. One way to do this w/a watering can is to use an attachment called a rose, which breaks the water into fine droplets. This allows water to soak in gradually & minimizes compaction of the soil.


During summer, watering can become very time consuming if you have a number of containers. Plants can be grouped closely, w/sprinklers arranged to supply water, although this generally leads to water waste because much of it falls into corners & between plants.


Some plants, especially hairy-leaved ones, scorch easily & should always be watered from the bottom.


Bottom watering


Watering from the bottom can be accomplished by submerging a pot in water, standing the pot on wet matting, or using a wick for capillary watering.


The wick must be connected to a reservoir of water & often can be inserted into the container thru the drainage hole. Matting & wicks often must be purchased thru garden supply catalogs.


Some window boxes have or can be adapted to include a self-watering reservoir. The reservoir is filled from the top or side of the window box & delivers moisture to the plants thru a wick.


These planters often must be purchased thru garden supply & specialty catalogs.

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container gardening - what plants to grow & pots to use
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