The Q&A Archives: Watering?

Question: How can I tell if I'm watering my tropical and perennials too much or not a enough? I can't tell the difference between yellow leaves due to not enough water or yellow leaves due to too much water.

Thank you!

Answer: I wish there were an easy answer to your watering question! It depends upon many factors. Plants can use more water when the weather is hot, but in addition to moisture, plant roots also need oxygen. If you keep the soil too wet, the roots can suffocate. The ideal situation is to have rich, well draining soil and to encourage deep roots so plants won't be quite so affected by summer's heat. You can do this by applying water slowly so it has a chance to fully saturated the soil to a depth of 6-8". Then wait 2-3 days after watering and dig a hole near one of the plants to see just how moist the soil is. If it is still moist 2" beneath the surface, you won't need to water for another day or two; if it is dryish, it's time to water. Experience will eventually prompt you into knowing when your plants need to be watered and how long you need to leave the sprinkler on. If you cover the top of he soil with a few inche of organic mulch, it will slow water evaporation, moderate soil temperatures and suppress weeds.

Best wishes with your tropicals!

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