The Q&A Archives: How should I water in a container

Question: Hi -

I have a Meyer Improved Citrus Limon in a pot. It gets full sun. How often should I water it? I have had a problem with leave yellowing and fruit drop from overwatering. How long can I let it go between waterings?

I also have a Ficus Carica

Answer: Knowing how often to water containerized plants takes experience rather than a recipe. Both the citrus and the fig tree need adequate moisture, but you don't want the soil to become waterlogged or it will drive out all of the oxygen and suffocate the roots. Also, plants use more water when they are actively growing than they do during the cooler winter months. So, I'd suggest watering your plants thoroughly and then waiting 3-4 days to test the moisture content. Dig down into the potting soil with your finger; if the soil is moist 2-inches beneath the surface, you won't need to water for a few days; if it is dry, it's time to water. Do this test for several weeks and you'll get an idea of how often you need to water your plants. Allowing the top 2-inches of soil to dry out before watering will assure the soil drains well and has enough oxygen to keep the roots from suffocating. Yellowing leaves can indicate over-watering so once you've adjusted the frequency of watering, the leaves shouldn't turn yellow.

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