For you and me, 2 litres (8 cups) of water is the prescribed daily intake. Our plants, on the other hand, don’t require the same regime. In fact, they probably need much less than we expect. Watering plants really isn’t rocket science – but there are a myriad of factors when learning how to water plants properly.
One of my gardening failures is to always expect that the soil needs to be damp in order to keep my plants at a sustainable level. It’s a paradigm that I’ve had to allow some shift otherwise my garden would become a complete bog.
Instead, my garden has shown me that watering plants constantly can actually stunt their well-being.
What to Consider When Watering Plants
When it comes to watering plants, MORE is not always best! There are so many considerations that need to be considered that a one-size-fits-all approach will leave you frustrated and your plants struggling for life.
Your climate is the ultimate parameter when considering the effects of watering plants. Annual rainfall. Evaporation rates. Humidity. Seasons. To name a few, these all affect the amounts of water your plants will need.
Obviously watering needs in winter will differ considerably between the summer months and if you fail to take this into consideration then not only are you hurting your plant, but you could be wasting water too.
Soil Conditions in Your Garden
The next consideration is the drainage and holding properties of the soil in your garden. Sandy, clay, and loam soil are the three most common found in gardens. If your soil is more clay than sand, then expect that moisture will be held around the roots for longer periods.
A free-draining soil will leech the water much faster and require more irrigation than a clay loam. If you understand your soil then you can amend it appropriately or acknowledge that what it is – is what it is, and work with it as such.
Watering Plants in Containers
If you grow your plants outside the soil, opting for containers instead, then this changes the playing field even more. Container plants will always require more watering than plants growing directly in the soil because they have their own micro-climate existing within a far greater surface area.
Temperatures within a pot are accentuated far more than in a garden bed and moisture has a greater chance to evaporate. Therefore, whatever works within your garden can’t be translated into your container plants – they’re a much different beast.
Plants’ Watering Needs
Your plant’s watering needs are an obvious factor. Plants that grow well in bog conditions are going to need far more moisture than those that grow in arid zones. This is why gardening gurus espouse the philosophy of growing plants that are indigenous to your region because they are already well-suited to your climate and, most likely, the prevailing soil conditions.
Morning vs evening watering. I love this discussion. Those gardeners who swear that it matters whether you water in the morning and those that consider the evening to be a safer bet. Honestly, there are pros and cons for both, and I believe that both have their place.
My advice, work it out for yourself based on all the factors that have preceded this one. Overwatering plants could be considered the “cardinal sin” of gardening. Why? Because the basics of watering plants are…well…basic!
The key to watering plants is OBSERVATION. Take time to watch, and note, how your plants are affected by the water you give them. If they’re not flowering/fruiting as much as you expect then alter the water input. If they’re losing leaves out of season maybe the watering program is providing too much – or not enough – water for their needs.
Take all the factors mentioned above into consideration and don’t make hasty decisions. What works in one garden may not work in another, so it really lies on the gardener’s expertise to devise the best watering regime for their plants.