Watering mulched plants?

WildeRose13June 10, 2014

Right now I have 20 sunflower seedlings that are about two weeks old, three pumpkin vines that are about one week old, and one raspberry plant that's dormant at present (bought at a nursery, but not sure if it's going to actually GROW). I mulched them today after carefully transplanting them all from their starter pots (I only lost four sunflowers and one pumpkin vine while moving them) and mulched around them to protect the soil from moisture loss. I watered them thoroughly before mulching and right now it's raining out.

I had been watering the pumpkin once daily and the sunflowers two or three times a day before the mulch. How often do I need to water these plants now that they're mulched?

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Mulching will obviously reduce water needs but how much depends on the type of mulch, its thickness, and your climate. Where do you live? watering 2-3 times a day is fine for Arizona but not Florida...

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 9:42PM
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How often to water will depend as much on the soil they are planted in as much as the mulch and how thick that mulch is. If the soil drains very quickly and does not have adequate amounts of organic matter, to help hold moisture, you may need to water daily, or more, but if the soil has adequate organic matter watering may only need be done once a week or so.
Mulches too thin will not help soils retain moisture. I have often seen people plunk down an inch or less of mulch and then complain because then "mulches will not help hold moisture or suppress unwanted plant growth". Mulches need to be 2, 3, inches thick.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 11:04AM
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I think a good gauge is that once your plants have established and are putting out new growth, see how long it takes you to get to that "wilty" look. That will give you an idea how much much moisture your mulched areas are retaining.

At the same time, you could ignore all that and just water 1-2 times a week, to keep the plants from reaching a stressed and wilty state.

Having said all that, I do notice that my transplanted plants that went to a mulched area need less frequent watering than the similar plants that were not mulched. This just goes to show what the mulch does, which we all know. But it also means that as I observe my plants in the two different areas, I will eventually get an idea of when to water or which area needs urgent water or not as urgent.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:14PM
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Use a left-handed moisture meter.

Here is a link that might be useful: Low Tech Soil Moisture Equipment

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 4:19PM
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