how often do you water

CelbriseSeptember 24, 2012

your container garden that is. talking about outside plants not indoor ones.

idk why my plants seem to be dying i stick to a 3 day schedule of watering i think im watering not enough. someone told me they water everyday i wanted to compare results with others

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I like this question! :)

I water when plants are wilting-

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 2:33AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I water BEFORE a plant begins to wilt. Watering frequency depends on: the maturity of the plant, consistency of the potting medium, temperature, humidity, amount of sunlight, size of container, wind, etc. A calendar schedule should NEVER be a consideration.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 6:24PM
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I water BEFORE my plants wilt and as needed too!

By teh way Master, did you find those peppers HOT? I hated them! I left them for dead they burnt my tongue so bad.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 7:53PM
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mea2214(z5 Chicago)

I have to water everything every day. August and September are the absolute worst and watering becomes a dreadful chore for me. A couple of days ago I simply quit and let everything die on the vine for the fall because I simply get worn down from the daily dredge of watering everything. I'm so sick of watering I don't even want to harvest. Over the years I have cut back my garden by more than 50% and I find it's still too much. Next spring I'm setting up some sort of drip irrigation or I'm tearing out the garden. My entire garden consists of containers on two rooftops. This year was my 10th season.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 12:58AM
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Oh dear.. don't give up on gardening! Drip irrigation or the many other methods of DIY automatic watering could change your life :D

Bigger pots (with few plants) may help too...

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 9:06AM
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my plants are not wilting although the soil is extremely dry after 3 days. my tomato plant in general is the worse it's leaves are turning yellow and dying off i know it isn't a sun issue for the past 2 days now i been watering all 4 of my container plants once per day and they actually seem to be doing good

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 11:46AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

What does the soil feel like when you dig around with your fingers? Have you tried inserting a dry wooden skewer into the depths of the containers to determine the moisture level at the roots?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 12:59PM
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Yes do install a drip system on a timer, it really cuts way down on the maintenance and even more important allows you not to worry about your plants burning up if you forget or are away.

Drip systems though do come with there own issues.
1. Every plant needs different amount of water. A fast draining mix should solve this as you can overwater some.
2. The mix might only get wet right underneath where the drippers and be dry elsewhere. This has happened to me when using a fast draining mix. And the plant roots will grow down right underneath the drippers, which then lead the water down and prevent it from spreading out even more.
My untested solution, to be tried next year, is to add a 1-2 inch layer of rotted wood to the top of the container (right underneath the some leave&needle mulch). The idea is a that a top layer of highly horizontally absorbent material will insure the entire mix gets wet. Peat could work too, but risky, since it can get hydrophobic.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 4:04PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I wonder if I am in the great minority when I confess that I have always loved watering. I find it relaxing, almost spiritual. It's never been something that I've resented and the time required for the task is found (or made) willingly. The more frantic my life...the happier I am to be watering. And I use a very fast draining mix (Fafard Heavyweight) and have even had many bonsai.

Anybody else have zen moments when watering? :-)

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 6:26PM
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rhizo... I agree... the whole gardening process is relaxing to me. However, in busy times or when on vacation my plants have suffered from lack of water, especially those where I experimented with 5-1-1 growing medium. I will probably put in an automated watering system next year... timer with solar power and pump connected to my rain barrels. I'm sure I will still spend just as much time piddling in the garden for relaxation.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 8:33AM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Everyone!!


I also love to water!! Even thought i do have a lot of trees that need attention during the hot summer months, it makes me feel so relaxed and i find this is my quiet time to make myself find that inner "zen" . What a wonderful place to be...

My job is also very frantic and long days.. im away for days at a time and all i can do is at the end of my trip...think about coming home and seeing my plants and seeing the new growth and or blooms that may present themselves to me.

I also have Large Palms growing in my kids used to say that when i came home, all i wanted to do was to go outside and water..LOL it was true. But, it was the peace and solitude that i find comforting.

Some of us do worry about traveling and having someone water for us.. i do have that problem. MY DH is good about watering in the summertime but worries about overwatering some plants during the rest of the year.

I use Gritty Mix in all of my C & S and my little trees as well as my Plumeria and Desert Roses. They can handle going for days without water and i have seen them do fine in the summer here at the beach. SO, i am pleased with the time frame on watering using this mix. I have gone for three to four days and not had any issues. Before i leave, i make sure they are watered.. then i go straight for my trees to see and water.. : )

Glad to know some of you also enjoy watering as much as i do...

Take care,


    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 4:36PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Meandering ~~~~~~~~ For any that don't know, I'm a bonsai guy, and I DO loves my plantses, but I doesn't love de watering. I look at watering as a necessary evil, to be attended to so I can enjoy the fun stuff. For me - that would be the pruning, wiring, shaping, even dead-heading of the mixed display plantings scattered around the decks & gardens.

I can pretty much get lost in wiring and pruning my trees, forgetting almost entirely about the passing of time but what really grabs me and transports me to another place is looking at trees with obvious potential but no firm future yet planned. I'll walk around the gardens & growing benches & pick up a tree, look at it from every angle - plan where it will need roots/branches grafted on, what branches need to be shaped/moved/removed/developed further, or how to rework the tree in such a way that a deficiency might be turned into a natural looking point of interest. For me, that's the zen experience, the most cerebral aspect of bonsai, spending good sized chunks of time that pass unnoticed, dwelling in the plant's future, starting with the tree as it appears at that moment, in hand, then exploring any of an infinite number of divergent paths in the mind's eye, each of which gradually reveal a different tree as you dawdle. If you don't like what you see, backtrack a bit and take a fresh path ...... what diversity you find in the newly conceived tree, revealed as you approach the path's end, can only be limited by your imagination.

Lucky is the manipulator of plants whose skill set can keep pace with his imagination.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 5:13PM
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chuck(Z10,SW FL)

Next time you are in one of the big stores with a gardening area, look for the inexpensive plant meters. They measure PH, Moisture, fertility. Some also measure light intensity. I think that my meter cost around $12 or so. I use my meter daily, and found that I can insert the probes half way for one reading, and then all the way in for another reading. Try reading PH levels. learn how to raise or lower PH. The PH in most of my pots is between 6.5 and 7.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 12:24AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The meters you refer to, Chuck, are actually very poor at measuring moisture levels. They ACTUALLY measure EC, and as such would be better suited to measuring fertility - or at least the level of dissolved solids in the soil solution. To illustrate, dip a clean probe in a cup of distilled (deionized) water, and note that it reads 'DRY'. After adding a sprinkling of table salt or soluble fertilizer, the same cup of water will read 'WET'. Also, any probe that can't be calibrated for use with the pour-through method of measuring pH would be notoriously inaccurate (as an instrument for measuring pH.

As a hobby grower, I've never paid a great deal of attention to the pH of the media - other than the fact I want to be in the right neighborhood. For the most part, that's because it's rather near impossible for a hobby grower to maintain a particular media pH.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 11:38AM
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Al, they say you can tell a lot about a man by the 'shoes they wear'

Does the same hold true for Bonsai? I would think that one's personality speaks volumns by the way one's Bonsai plants are shaped into or cared for.

Yours are beautiful by the way!


    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 2:36PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

That's a really hard question, and the answer is neither clear cut or something everyone would be able to relate to. Even as a bonsai judge, I can't say that I can identify grower A's plants from grower B's plants unless there is an obvious disparity in the skill levels between the growers. For the most part, a bonsai practitioner's job is to bring out the TREE's personality by helping the tree to tell its own story, even if it is an imaginary one. IOW, we try to minimize the appearance that we (the grower) had any hand at all in bringing a tree along to the point where it becomes evocative. Often, our skills as a bonsai artist are measured in our ability to disguise our skills; that is to say in our ability to make the viewer see the tree as a creation of nature instead of the artist.

Once I see a tree in a show or in a magazine, I usually remember the artist who created it, but even though I might know many of the works of a particular artist well, I would have great difficulty picking his/her particular trees out of a show, even if I knew that artist was a part of the local talent the show was representing, if I had never seen the tree before.

I took in the Midwest Bonsai Show this past August. As an aside, it was the best that show has ever been, IMO. The Garden's trees were well prepared for the show, and there were at least 100 exceptional trees in the judging. I did recognize many of the trees because I'd seen them before in other venues, so knew who their owners were, but I found myself having to turn over the informational cards that marked each exceptional tree to see who created them, even though I had a good idea of what individuals' work was being represented in the show and their relative skill level.

It's even difficult to make any sort of judgment about personalities based on how a grower's trees look or how they are shaped. First, most high quality bonsai only look good for a short time every 2-3 years. The rest of the time they are recovering or building up energy for the next major operation. Also, judging a person's personality by how his trees look is about the same as judging his personality by how his shoes or his car looks. In reality, the most information you can get from how my trees look or your plants look is how we prioritize and how skillful we are. The greatest guy in the world might have nasty looking plants if he has either a poor set of skills or looks at plants as a low priority pastime; and the biggest jerk might have beautiful plants if he's skillful and puts a high priority on the condition of his plants.

Where you CAN tell a lot about people and personalities is how they present themselves here, in forum settings. I think that speaks volumes about a person to those that pay attention and are able to read between the lines.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 4:20PM
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Hi! Well I agree with the above posts that say watering shouldn't be done on a schedule. I admit to being a "when they wilt" person more often than not... but... it really depends on the season, temps, and exposure. Sometimes I catch them before they wilt. But I always only water when a pot is dry. Wilting can be a sign of overwatering if you have root rot. I take care to make sure that is not the case. That said, in spring I watered maybe once every week, week and a half. Summer some of my pots needed it every day. Some only needed it once a week. Now in the fall, I'm back to the spring schedule. My balcony faces north. The ones that needed frequent watering were either in terracotta (so porous) or hanging off the railing so actually saw sun. There is a world of difference between my shady 100+*F balcony mid-summer and someone who has full sun. :)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 3:44PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Earlier this morning, I left the following as part of an offering over at 'houseplants':

In one way, fertilizing is just like watering. We scoff at the grower who suggests you should water weekly or every X number of days for a number of reasons - the main one being we all know with a great degree of certainty that watering on a schedule is bad for plants - right? How is it then that I'm able to water on a schedule and still produce perfectly healthy plants? You've seen the hundreds of pictures ......

I think the advise that you shouldn't water plants on a schedule is given by folks who either take for granted that everyone is using a water-retentive soil, or folks who aren't familiar enough with soils and water behavior in soils to understand that you CAN very effectively water on a schedule - IF your soil allows it.

For the most part I think it's very good advice - to only water on an as needed basis - but the importance of maintaining a critical interval between waterings diminishes as the volume of perched water a soil can hold diminishes, which is why I always add the qualifier when offering the advice - because in this case, one size doesn't fit all. ;-)


    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:52PM
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I find spring I water and fertilze less. Late spring/early summer Is when I fertilize the most. Mid summer is when I water them most but cut back on fertilizer.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 1:01AM
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