Watering potted plants

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Ceramic frog to water pot as needed.
Both under-watering and over-watering can be detrimental to a houseplant. The best way to determine whether a plant needs water is to check the soil moisture. Feeling the soil is most reliable, since moisture meters are often inaccurate. Most potted plants must be allowed to reach an appropriate level of dryness in between waterings, though the amount of watering required varies greatly depending on the species. Proper soil moisture can range from still slightly moist on the soil surface to very dry to nearly the bottom of the pot. Watering a plant by the calendar is not recommended. If a plant does need to be watered, water should be slowly poured over the surface of the soil until it begins to drain out the bottom of the pot, ensuring complete saturation. However, sometimes the soil separates from the sides of the pot if it is allowed to dry out thoroughly, allowing the water to flow down the sides of the rootball and out the bottom too quickly to be absorbed and retained by the soil and roots. If this is the case, it may be necessary to set the plant in a shallow dish of water long enough for it to soak up enough water to moisten the rootball to its center. Repotting should eliminate this problem. Repotting should be done only when necessary, since the roots of a plant that is in an excessively large pot may rotwp.


Automated watering

Whether you are home or leaving on a trip, there are different ways you can keep your plants watered without over or under-watering for days or weeks at a time.

Drip irrigation

Drip irrigation can be set up both indoors or out, if you get enough parts to go from one type of faucet to another. This section describes how to set it up for outdoor hose faucets, but it can also work indoors if you connect it to where the water hose leaves the wall and heads to the sink.

You get a timer that attaches to an outdoor hose faucet, attach drip irrigation tubing (which may require an adaptor), and then run the tubing to your container and put an adjustable dripper on the end. You can split the tubing to run it to more than one plant. Just make sure the tube doesn't slip out of the pot - you should pin it down. The first few days you check for over/underwatering and adjust, and you're set!


These are basically plastic or glass bottles full of water, with the neck of the bottle put in the soil with a small hole, to let the soil draw out water as it needs it. You may have to see the pics to understand what we're talking about here.


These cornstarch-based gels slowly release water out of the gel.


This product is a vegetable gum compound that is 98% water. As the soil bacteria cause it to decompose, water is released.


By running an acrylic or nylon string through the soil of a pot as you fill it with potting soil, and running it out the drainage hole, you can put the bottom of the string in a bucket of water place below the level of the pot. The soil should pull up water as it is needed. This is great for planting seedlings, and for watering year round without worrying about the soil drying out or getting too much water.

There are other solutions, like having a friend water, putting your pots under the automatic sprinklers, or popping them into a tray or tub with a bit of water for a few days.


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