Water is essential in the growth of any plant as it offers structural support and supplies the required minerals from the soil to the places of the plant it is needed at.
When the plant cells are filled up, they become stiff and the plant stands upright. In the case of low water levels, the cells deflate and the plant appears as wilted. Wilting is the most basic sign indicating the need for more water. Cellulose produced by plants helps in keeping its shape while the water pressure i.e the water flowing through a plant helps it gain and retain their shape in support of cellulose. However, too much water may not go well with the growing process. In fact, it will only be detrimental.
Role of water in plant’s growth
Water and seed germinationThe availability of moisture is a major factor determining the onset of germination. If drying out of moisture occurs four or more days after the onset of germination, germinated seeds start to deteriorate. If the dry conditions persist for more than six days, the seeds are sure to fall and no crop will further establish.
Watering EssentialsHere are some basic watering essentials to keep in mind.
- Water after you have re-potted the plant.
- Small pots have higher water retention and the plants in bigger pots dry out sooner.
- If your plants are kept in bright daylight, they will quickly dry out as compared to the ones in low light.
- Humid air keeps the soil moist for a long time.
Simple flower watering tips
Not only different plants need varying amounts of light, but they also have varying water preferences. Depending on the plant’s physical environment ranging from rainy to tropical to hot or dry, make sure your pots or gardens are receiving optimal moisture levels. Every gardener has killed a plant or two accidentally. You don't have to be a novice to do that, sometimes even an expert can make such errors especially if they are trying their hands on some unfamiliar varieties. It’s only better to learn small things that can save a plant from dying due to overwatering. Surely you water with no harm intended but the plant has its needs! Following checks can help just in time.
- Every plant is indeed different and hence different species of plants have different watering requirements. If you’re watering plants on a schedule say Monday-Wednesday-Friday without knowing the requirements of the plant, begin with stopping that schedule.
- Avoid overwatering otherwise, the soil can will them to suffocate as the roots need air to breathe.
- Touching the soil before you add more water to check if it’s moist. It will help you gauge just how much water should be added to the soil.
- A spray bottle with a small concentration of peppermint soap and water can come in handy in keeping bugs and fungi away.
- It is beyond doubt that if the soil gets watered too often, plants suffocate and drown overtime. But checking the soil before watering surely helps to prevent over-watering. When the top layer is still wet, it means it’s too soon to add more moisture. Most plants prefer it in the middle: not too wet or dry.
How often should you water potted flowersHow often should the plants get watered significantly depends on the indoor airflow and moisture content in the room? These factors add humidity to the air.
- If you are constantly checking the pots, you will know when to water the plant. The frequency highly depends upon the variety of plant grown. Succulents need to be watered lesser than herbs and vegetables. It is also important to add more water to the newly established plants as compared to older ones.
- Watering deeply and slowly ensures that the water reaches to all parts of the soil and roots while light watering just goes out the drainage holes and the plant fails to acquire the moisture and the soil fails to absorb the water. Most potting soils also repel water if left to completely dry out.
- In case the soil in your pot has completely dried out by accident, you can soak the entire container in a bucket of water for half an hour. This will force rehydration of the soil. It is recommended to dunk the entire container in a bucket of water for soaking purpose for coir or moss line cages.
How much water should you add to potted flowers
On watering a plant, the process called transpiration takes place. Transpiration is when the sun evaporates water from the leaves through their stomatal pores, enabling water loss in the leaf. The water is usually pulled up from the roots, but in case the roots are dry, leaves are capable of taking the water themselves which results in a deflated plant signifying that the plant is thirsty.
The soil is like a sponge. Most balcony garden plants thrive in porous soil which allows a place for water and air pockets. Hold off on watering if your soil is too moist. The water starts to pour out through the drainage holes immediately when the soil is dried out as it starts repelling water instead of soaking it in. Avoid pouring water onto such soil as it will not be absorbed by the roots and only run around the edges of the container. For the plant to absorb water slowly through its roots so, before you water again, check how dry the soil is. You can use your fingers and feel if the soil is wet 1- 2 inches below the surface. Add the water only if it is so. If the soil surface it wet, please hold off.
The amount of water varies for different plant varieties. You can gauge the average moisture needs of your particular plant with a moisture gauge. The gauge has a probe that you stick into the soil and gives you a reading that rates the soil moisture level. Practice slow and deep irrigation and water until the moisture leach from the drainage holes. Allow the top layer of the soil to dry out before watering again. The appropriate water requirements will be identified by trial and error for your particular plant’s preferences.
- Plants potted outdoors need more water than those indoors as the higher temperatures, sunlight, and wind, dry the soil quickly. These small tips can make watering potted plants easier.
- You could also use glazed pots to help prevent faster evaporation and apply a layer of mulch to the soil surface as it slows down moisture loss.
- Setting up a drip irrigation system for watering outdoor potted plants can be of great help with efficiency. It allows for slow, even watering that the soil can absorb before it all runs through the drainage holes.
- Applying water in early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler helps it seep down to the roots as the direct sun will not suck away the moisture.
Visible signs of overwatered flowers
The leaves have started to look limp, they have turned yellow and some have also fallen off- these are signs of plants dying due to overwatering. Limp and sagging leaves and stems indicate over watered plants while the leaves still turn yellow and fall from the plant if they have not been watered enough, they tend to turn dry and brittle.
Roots are unable to breatheRoots are the primary source and channel supplying to the plant its prerequisites of growth- water, nutrients, and oxygen. The roots absorb water and need air to breathe. If you over watering your plant, the plant is going to drown. Healthy soil enables oxygen to stay in the spaces between soil particles. Constantly wet soil destroys these air pockets resulting in limited oxygen supply as the plants fail to breathe.
Brown and wilting leavesWhen plants have too little water, leaves turn brown and wilt. The same occurs if the plants have too much water. However, too little water will make the plant's leaves dry and crispy while overwatering results in limp and soft leaves.
Building water pressureAs the roots absorb more and more water than they can actually utilize, water pressure begins to build in the cells of leaves. This leads to cells eventually dying out by bursting, forming blisters and lesions. Once these blisters appear, brown warts begin to grow in their place.
Stunted leaf growthStunted growth accompanied with yellowing leaves is also a symptom associated with overwatered plant followed by leaves falling off eventually. If your plants have yellow and old leaves along with new ones that are falling at a similar rate, you are certainly overwatering.
Compaction is also a problem that is associated with overwatering. It is a condition that decreases the air porosity because the large pores between particles collapse, forming many small micropores. Hence it will retain more water if it has a higher proportion of micropores to macropores.
To fix or avoid this, often sand is added to a growing medium to allow more drainage, but in reality, it decreases the air porosity and increases water content because the macropores are filled with the sand.
The Seasons make a lot of difference
SummersThe sun is at it’s highest intensity during summers, a time when even the succulents need to be watered often, at least once in every two weeks while once a month in off seasons is sufficient. Ferns can be watered once a week. For similar plants, the humidity levels need to be higher during summer months.
Autumn is the perfect season for root growth because the soil is warmed up from the gone days of hot days of summer. Hence the autumn season provides warm days and cooler nights all to encourage the plants to grow and anchor into the earth. Plants start to quickly dehydrate during the drier autumn season. Hence they need watering every week or two to help the roots along. As the plant work hard to transition from the growing season to the dormant season, the temperature is warm and the weather's reasonably windy. You should continue to water as the wind dries out the water.
Prevent overwatering with these simple steps
- There are water meters available in the market that you can stick in the soil to measure how much moisture it holds. Although the cheapest method will be to just use your finger. Stick your index finger into the soil down. If it is still moist, you can hold off on watering for a couple of days.
- Avoid watering plants on a specific schedule. Instead, lift potted plants. By doing so, you can learn how heavy they are signifying recently watered or dried out.
- Avoid buying cheap topsoil and bagged soil when starting a garden bed or growing in a pot at all costs. The quality of the soil is highly imperative for roots to thrive and grow any plant.
- If you can make your own compost, or use some organic potting soil, it will be a safer option.
- Learning about your plant varieties, where they come from and their growing conditions is the best way to avoid overwatering plants. Read up a bit about them just before you prepare to sow.
- Grouping plants with similar watering need together is a common practice to check water needs and a very helpful one.