The Q&A Archives: Watering

Question: This is my first year planing annuals, perennials, and vegetables. I never know how much water to give. I have been daily watering the new plants. Is that too much? Thanks.

Answer: I wish there were a definitive schedule for watering plants, but the amount and frequency of watering really depends upon the plant, the soil, and the weather. Some plants are water hogs and some are drought tolerant. Sandy soils drain quickly and clayey soils hold moisture for long periods of time. And, of course, hot weather can evaporate soil moisture at an alarming rate. The important thing to remember is that plant roots need a balance of oxygen and moisture. Too much moisture drives out oxygen in the soil and can actually suffocate roots; not enough moisture in the soil dries out the roots and causes plants to wilt. So the goal is to find a happy medium.

You want to water deeply but infrequently to encourage deep roots which are more drought tolerant. Daily watering is excessive, unless the plants are tiny and have tiny root systems. The general rule of thumb is to apply water slowly so it trickles down and wets the entire root mass. For most annuals, perennials and veggies, watering twice a week during the summer months will be sufficient. You can water as usual, then wait 2-3 days and dig down into the soil. If it is still moist 2-inches below the soil surface, you won't need to water for a few more days; if it is dry, it's time to water again. Try to adjust your water applications - daily is too much, unless the plants are in containers. Strive for once or twice a week, applying water slowly so it can deeply penetrate the soil.

Hope this answers all your questions!

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