Watering new plants can seem like a minefield. Plants differ in their watering needs. And it’s not like they can tell you if you’re watering them too much or too little!
Here, you’ll find watering tips and tricks, including when, how, and how often to water your new plants, and how to know if you’re under- or overwatering. We’ll talk about keeping the planet in mind, too.
Why Your New Plants Need Water
I won’t explain why plants need water. Any gardener knows that. But why is it imperative to get it right with new plants?
Well, new plants need more water because their roots are under-developed. When their roots aren’t fully established, plants struggle to access water from the soil. Once their roots begin to grow, though, you can calm down on the watering. But for now, water away!
When to Water New Plants
Mornings are the best time to water new plants because they can soak up all the moisture from your watering. If you water in the middle of the day, prepare for sun sabotage. The water will quickly evaporate due to the sun’s heat, leaving less watery goodness for your new plants.
You can also water in the evenings when the sun is setting, and the temperature has dropped. This reduces evaporation, thus increasing watering efficiency.
How Often to Water New Plants
Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for watering frequency. Your watering schedule is affected by:
- Plant type
- Planting location
- Soil type
- The weather/season
Let’s compare watering new trees and watering new flowers. Bigger plants lose water easier and require more nutrients. Trees are typically larger and have more leaves, so they need more water.
But if you’ve got a plant that produces a flurry of flowers, it’ll need its fair share too!
Consider root restriction when planting your new vegetation. If your plant is boxed in by walls, fences, or placed in a container, water will dry up quicker, so more frequent watering is essential. Plants placed in a border will require less watering because more soil means greater moisture.
When you water, there’s always some that’s left behind in the soil. No plant can soak it all up, no matter how much we wish it could! Steer clear of clay soil if possible. Although clay soil can retain lots of water, it doesn’t leave much available for plants to extract. It’s safer to go for sandy soil.
With sandy soil, water in small amounts but more often. This will ensure your plants get a good, constant supply of moisture. Adding organic matter can help with your soil’s water retention.
Watch out for rainfall – if it’s raining, put the watering can down! Your plants don’t need a double dose. And take a look at the soil before watering; the top 2 inches should be bone dry. If they’re not, don’t water them!
If you’re inundated with rain (not uncommon here in the UK!), you won’t need to water half as much. If you’re blessed with some hot, sunny spells, keep an eye on your plants and water more if necessary.
So, water your new plants more in the hotter months and less in the cold season.
What’s the General Rule?
If you’re after a general rule, water daily for the first 7 days. Reduce your watering frequency to every other day on the second week, and from the third week onwards, only water your new plants a couple times a week.
If your new plants are succulents, ignore the previous advice. For the first week, water every other day. For the second, water a couple times a week. From then on, watering once a week will do just fine.
Signs You’re Under- or Overwatering
Even if your plants can’t tell you you’re getting it wrong, they’ll show you. New plants that are being underwatered won’t grow as much as expected. They may not produce fruit or flowers. The leaves may be beginning to curl, wilt, or lose their shininess.
Pick up your pot or check out what it does in the wind. Is it seriously light? Does it fall over on windy days? These may be signs that the soil lacks moisture.
Your new plants are relatively safe from overwatering as long as they’re in soil with good drainage. Brown or yellow leaves, perforations in the leaves, and root rot are all classic signs of overwatering.
So if in doubt, check the leaves. They’re a great indication of whether something’s wrong. If they’re brown or curling down, give the plant a soak. But remember, they could be brown from overwatering, too!
- Is the soil draining well?
- Has there been lots of rain?
- Has the sun been out in full force?
Use your judgement – you’ll be able to work out if it’s over- or underwatering that’s got your plants looking glum.
How to Water Your New Plants
Although your plant’s leaves use water, they don’t need to be directly watered onto. In fact, it can cause a whole host of problems like powdery mildew. Your plant’s roots, however, are calling out for a good watering!
To send water to the root tips and avoid the leaves, give them lots of water but less often. This is especially important in periods of heat. Avoid overwatering though as roots permanently soaked will begin to rot.
Remember what we said about the plant’s location! If it’s in a small pot, it’ll have less soil to extract water from. You’ll need to water these plants more.
How to Keep Watering Economical
Climate change is a growing concern, and we gardeners need to be doing what we can to keep our planet happy and healthy.
Part of that is reducing water consumption as much as possible, even for our plants! Mix your soil with organic matter to improve water retention and thus lessen the need for watering.
Collect rainwater and use garden designs like gravel and rain gardens that don’t require a whole load of watering. This will help you keep your cash and save the planet!
And get well acquainted with your plants! Find out as much as you can about them – when are their main growth periods? When do they need more watering? This saves needless water usage.
Watering Cans at the Ready!
Your new plants are relying on you to keep them going. They can’t fend for themselves, so snatch up your watering can and get going. Keep a watchful eye to identify what they need, whether that be more water or less.
When it comes to watering, remember the roots and forget the rest! Remind yourself that morning and evening are best. And keep your planet in mind. Collect rainwater, introduce organic matter, and know your plants like the back of your hand.