Watering Plants: A Guide for New Gardeners

Watering Plants Essential to their Survival

Whether you are maintaining an elaborate outdoor garden or are nursing a single seedling in a pot on your kitchen windowsill, watering plants is going to be a reality. It’s the single-most important thing required for keeping them alive next to sunlight exposure, and one of the most commonly neglected or misunderstood aspects of growing plants.

The two most common causes of death in house and garden plants are under-watering and over-watering. What this means is that people, while watering plants, will either do so infrequently enough to starve the roots or often enough to flood and drown them. A careful balance is required to ensure that watering plants is successful, and can be one of the most difficult parts of gardening to learn.

Watering Plants Outside

We’ll start by outlining tips and tricks for watering your gardens. Garden plants are typically not located in pots meaning that draining of the soil is easier (except for the case of a damp region). This ease of draining makes it harder to over-water plants because the water itself will simply drain away into the earth.

The presence of trees also helps to regulate water consumption amongst plants. The giant root structures demand enormous amounts of moisture and are designed to acquire exactly that – often at the expense of other species growing around them. This can be a double-edged sword, however, as an overabundance of trees can dry out the soil and starve other plants.

If you live in a location that enjoys frequent rain you won’t really need to worry about watering plants unless you experience an unusual dry spell. Aside from the rain, the occasional misting with a hose or treatment with a sprinkler should be more than sufficient to maintain health. In the case of dry locales, however, watering plants becomes vital to their safety and longevity.

The most common tactic is to buy a long garden hose and then manually take care of watering plants yourself. One mistake that people tend to make is to forget to adjust the nozzle to a spray or mist, and accidentally hit their delicate flowers and shrubs with a high-powered jet. Before watering plants in your garden be sure to turn the hose on slowly and adjust the spray to something gentle.

The second most common and perhaps safest way of manually watering plants is to buy a big watering can from a garden center. The head is shaped much like the type you’ll find in your shower stall and regulates water flow without allowing for any risk of damaging stems, leaves and flowers. When manually watering plants in your garden, this is one of the best options you can choose.

Watering cans also have the benefit of letting you mix in fertilizer and plant food, although it’s always best to check the instructions on the package or container to avoid over-feeding or damaging roots and leaves while watering plants.

Watering Plants Indoors

When watering plants indoors you definitely won’t be using a hose or a sprinkler. A garden watering can isn’t suitable either due to its cumbersome size and the fact that you’ll end up soaking your floors as you pour. Fortunately, smaller indoor varieties are commonplace and easy to find. These ones use a small spout for pouring, much like an elongated tea pot, and let you regulate watering plants very carefully.

You can also mix fertilizer and plant food into this type of container. It’s crucial to follow instructions exactly, as a high concentration of most chemicals can burn and damage root structures if you aren’t careful. If you share the task of watering plants with your entire family, make sure they are aware of the proper concentrations as well to avoid damage.

Because you are growing in pots you’ll have less success draining water. This is why it’s crucial to avoid over-watering plants, as this can lead to death very quickly. One piece of advice is to place bottom-holed pots on a small dish or in a bowl so that water can drain out without soaking your floor. This decreases a chance of flooding.

It can be difficult to tell exactly how much liquid you need when watering plants, as many factors can contribute to differing requirements. The size and species of the plant play a huge role, as do location, temperature and exposure to sunlight. Chances are you’ll begin with a bit of error and end up learning the best possible amount of water after a bit of trial.

For suggestions or advice we recommend speaking with your local florist, part of whose job involves caring for and watering plants on a daily basis. They should be able to make general statements about appropriate amounts for specific species of plants which can act as basic handy guidelines for watering plants.

Copyright (c) 2008 Brant Florist

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