The Q&A Archives: Watering Perennials on a Drip System

Question: I have added some perennials to my garden. They are set on a drip system. Each plant is in its own plastic container and then lowered into the ground and each plant has its own feed watering tube. The system is set to come on for 10 minutes per day. The system will water each plant at a rate of 1/2 gallon 1 gallon or 2 gallon per hour. Could you please advise me on how much water I should be giving each plant per day?

by Drought Resistant Plant
Drought Tollerant Plant
Moist, Well Drained Plant
and Tender Moist Plants - Like Begonia and Primrose.

Answer: We would all prefer an exact formula for watering plants, but unfortunately, that's not the best way for the long-term health of your plants. There are numerous variables involved, such as type of soil, how fast or slow it drains, sun and wind exposure at your site, temperature, age and condition of the plants and much more. It's important to learn the specific needs of your landscape, both for its health and your water bill. Use the information below to determine how moist the soil is before automatically applying more water.

Use a soil probe (any long, pointed piece of metal or wood to poke into the soil) to check how far water has penetrated. The probe moves easily through moist soil, but stops when it hits hard dry soil. The following depths are a guideline for how deep water should reach:

Shrubs 2-3 feet
Vegetables, flowers, herbs 1 - 1 1/2 feet
Succulents 1-2 inches

The following frequencies are guidelines only for the summer months when temperatures are in the 90s and winds are drying.

Shrubs, 1st year* once a week
Shrubs, 2 years every 10 days
Shrubs, 3+ years every 2 weeks
Vegetables, flowers every 3-4 days
Herbs once a week
Succulents twice a month
*One-gallon size or newly transplanted shrubs may need twice a week, every other day or every day.

It's important to water slowly, deeply, and infrequently so that salts in the water don't accumulate around the roots of the plants and water seeps out to where the new roots are growing. I suggest that you reset your timer from 10 minutes, to 1-3 hours--you'll need to check how deep the water penetrates for an accurate setting.

Finally, I'm not sure why the plants are still in plastic containers? I would think this would constrict the plants' ability to grow and thrive in the long-term. The containers would also need to have excellent drainage so that roots aren't sitting in wet soil. I hope this information helps you. Drig irrigation works well once you determine a few other factors. Good luck!

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