How to Water and Care for Container Gardens (Video, 2:59)
By Pamela Crawford
Learning how to water and care for container gardens is easy. Since watering takes the most time of any container garden chore, it’s worth your time to spend a little time learning the right way to do it.
Plants in containers need more water than plants in the ground because their root systems are smaller, and the roots are where plants store most of their water. The root system of a plant in the ground is three times the diameter of the plant. Not so for container plants – the roots are only as large as the container.
I was pleasantly surprised by the watering needs of side-planted containers. Prior to using them, I was concerned that the coco fiber liner would not hold water for long. I pictured myself permanently standing next to a container pouring water on it! Luckily, that was not the case. Read these two pages to learn what it took me hundreds of trials to master.
Buy a watering wand at your local home improvement store. This nozzle diffuses the water, so you don’t blow the little plants right out of the pots. The same effect comes from a nozzle that fits directly on the hose. I like the hose nozzles that have a lot of different settings, so I can use a gentle stream for soaking a container or a strong stream for cleaning a patio.
Water when you see signs of wilt, or the soil feels dry to the touch. Use your finger to test the soil. Push it into the soil about an inch or so. Low-water plants, like cacti and succulents, need less water and can go longer with dry soil.
Knowing when to water is very important because many container plants die from overwatering. If the plant looks wilted and the soil has been wet for several days, the plant is drowning and will probably die. It has a fungus. You might try a fungicide if the plant is very important to you.
Water thoroughly with each application. The biggest watering mistake people make is to give the plant just a little bit of water. That is the same as giving a person dying of thirst just a teaspoonful of water! Soak the plant thoroughly until you see a steady stream of water coming out of the bottom of the pot. A slow soaking is better than a fast hit with the hose because it allows the roots time to absorb the water.
Plants need a lot of water right after they are planted. Then, as the roots grow, the plant needs less water. Once the roots fill the pot, the plant needs more water again!
Grooming or trimming is the other major container garden task.
If plants look leggy or uneven, pinch or trim off the unwanted portions. Use your finger or pruning shears (if the stem is too thick).
See the plant profiles in any of Pamela’s books for individual pinching and cut-back requirements.
Pamela Crawford designs gardens in Palm Beach County, Florida. This video is appropriate throughout Pamela’s service area, including Boca Raton landscapes, town of Palm Beach landscapes, Palm Beach Gardens landscapes, Jupiter landscapes, and Wellington landscapes. The concepts work in colder climates as well. It was filmed in Georgia.
This article is taken from Easy Container Gardens, Copyright ©2008, Color Garden, Inc.
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Published by Color Garden, Inc.