Considering the fact that knowing how and when to water your plants is pretty crucial for growing brag-worthy fruits and veggies in your own garden, it’s surprising that there’s no hard and fast advice about how, when and how much to water your plants.
As a newbie grower, we know that can be pretty exasperating.
If you speak to a well-seasoned green-thumb and they’ll probably tell you that you water your plants when they look like they need watering. (Helpful.)
They’ll probably also tell you that your plants need more water when it’s hot and — if you stumble across a real green-thumbed guru — you might hear about the inch-a-week recommendation.
(We’ll come back to that later, don’t worry.)
So if you’re a little confused about exactly how to water your plants, we don’t blame you.
So, considering the fact that over watering a vegetable patch is one of the most common mistakes for beginner gardeners to make (a mistake which can cause root rot and a distinct lack of brag-worthy fruits and veggies), we thought we’d try and break down everything you need to know about watering your plants.
(This article should tide you over until your green-thumbed superpowers are in full effect. Then, you’ll be watering by instinct, just you wait.)
How often should I water my new Plantables plants?
For the first week after your new plant babies arrive, it’s almost impossible to give your new plants too much water.
We know, that sounds like we’re exaggerating. But we’re not.
(Well, maybe there are two caveats, here… If you water them 24/7, that will probably be too much water. Likewise, if you’ve potted your plants in a pot with little to no drainage, they’re not going to be happy sitting in water. Plants don’t like having wet feet!)
A constant supply of water during their first week helps your new plants get established and settled in their new homes quickly, so they can start producing you brag-worthy fruits and veggies in no time.
How much should I water my plants after the first week?
Here’s where the inch-a-week rule comes in handy. As a rule, every plant should get an inch of water every week. (Spaced out over a couple of watering sessions, of course!)
However, that doesn’t have to come from your hose or watering can, it can come from rain, too.
If you have a particularly wet week, your plants probably won’t need watering.
However, if you have a scorcher of a week (or you’re lucky enough to live in a hot environment), then you’ll want to increase the amount of water your plants get by about half-an-inch per week for every 10 degrees your average temperature rises above 60 degrees.
That all sounds a little confusing and off-putting, right?
Don’t worry, if you don’t fancy constant trips to the thermometer and calculator, up the amount of water your plants have by half an inch if you’ve had a hot week and an inch if you’ve had a really hot week.
(But please, don’t upload pictures of your plants enjoying the 70-degree weather to social media. We live in snowy, cold Canada and we can only get so jealous…)
How should I water my plants?
As long as you’re watering your plants, they should stay happy, healthy and ready to grow tasty fruits and veggies in no time, so don’t fret too much about how to water your plants, just as long as you are making sure to watering them a couple of times a week.
That said, if you can water your plants near the roots (rather than over the leaves), you’ll allow the water to get directly to the roots and into the plant. (We find that a watering can or a hose with an attachment makes this much easier…)
Water that lands on the leaves of your plants often ends up evaporating away, which means that plants can’t use it up at all.
Even worse, water left on the leaves of your plants overnight can cause fungus problems — such as powdery mildew or sooty mould — and these are not good for your plant or the fruits and veggies they might grow.
When is best to water my plants?
Getting an early start and watering your plants as you sip your morning coffee is easily the best way to keep your vegetable garden happy and healthy all season long.
A good morning soaking makes sure that your plants have water throughout the day, which is particularly important if you live in hot environments. (Watering before the sun is up stops a lot of the water being lost to evaporation, too.)
Don’t listen to old gardening myths:
There’s an old gardening myth that says that watering your plants in the morning (or the midday sun) causes the plants to scorch and die. The idea behind this is that the little beads of water act as miniature magnifying glasses, concentrating the sun’s energy onto the leaf, scorching it.
In reality, this isn’t the case at all. As you’ve probably seen on hot days, the water evaporates from plant leaves long before it can start to do them damage.
That said, it’s still better to water them before the midday sun to make sure your plants get most of the water you’re giving them, but watering during a heat spell won’t damage your plants at all.
And, of course, if during the heat of midday is the only time you can water your plants, then it’s always better to give them a soak!
Or, you can water your plants in the evening…
If setting an alarm to get up and water your plants doesn’t sound like you — or you don’t want to add another thing to your already hectic mornings of breakfasts, school runs and meetings — then watering your plants in the evenings is OK.
It’s not nearly as good as watering in the morning (there’s an old gardening phrase we like that says “how would you like to go to bed with a wet blanket?”) — and you risk your plants getting root diseases like Pythium or Root Rot — but if the evening is the only time you can take to water your plants, it’s far better that they get the water they need.
However, if you’re watering in the evening, be extra careful to water by the soil, not the leaves — wet leaves left overnight can cause rot and fungus. (Which spells unhealthy fruits and veggies.)
A few more top tips from Ryan, Plantables’ own Plant Whisperer:
Putting mulch around the base of plants helps hold the moisture in the soil, which means that you’ll have to water less. (It also helps keeps weeds at bay!)
If you’ve planted in containers or pots, you’ll need much to water more frequently than anything in a garden as pots dry out much faster. (A light watering every day works best.)
Remember, even if the soil surface looks dry, your plants might not need water. Here’s another rule of (green) thumb: stick your finger deep into the soil. If your finger tip feels dry, you need to water your plants. If it’s still moist, the plant has enough water.
That’s it for this week, folks. If you have any more gardening questions, don’t forget to reach out to us on social media (the links are down in the footer!).
Until next time, happy planting!