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What plants need "bottom watering"?

Posted by Lamora 4 (My Page) on
Sat, Sep 8, 12 at 17:32

Hi Everyone. I know, more questions. But the subject came up at the garden store I went to, (another customer) and I've been wondering about it since.

I was just wondering what plants should be watered from the bottom? I know I have some that should be, but I don't hardly ever water like that. (I think I've done it maybe 2x with some) Does it make a difference than top watering? I'm not sure I do it right anyway.

Exactly how do you do it? How much do you submerge the plant? How long do you keep it in water? I think I know how to feed a plant by doing this, but again, I'm not sure.

I would just like a bit of info on this~~
Thanks
Marjie :)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Marji

Just wondering - did they tell you in store that plant should be watered from the bottom?

Rina


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Frankly, I don't know of any plant that 'needs' bottom watering.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

I mostly water my African violets and Streps from the bottom.
Sometimes I water the AVs from the top though.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Marjie,
The only houseplant I can think of that you may want to water from the bottom is a Sansevieria (Snake Plant) due to the fact that you don't want to get water stuck in between the "leaves" as it may cause the leaves to rot. But honestly, if you're careful enough not to submerge it while watering, you shouldn't have to worry about it that much anyways.

I think it's better to water from the top as you want to wash out any excess salts in the soil. I think I read somewhere some plants are more sensitive to excess salts in the soil (I believe Peace Lilies are one) and by thoroughly watering until excess water comes out the bottom of the pot, you flush out those salts.

Planto


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Rina~ no, they didn't tell me that, it was another woman that was in buying something or other, not sure what it was, but the mananger there was telling her it needed to be bottom watered, and she went on to asking him more, but I couldn't stay and listen. (DH had other things to get done) But it got me to thinking about it. I've heard some plants do better with it, was just wondering what plants and how to go about doing it right.

I THINK~ Not sure, Bromeliads are one type. And there was succulants of sorts, I THINK~~ (not a good thing for me to do) So IDK... just me wondering something...


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Planto and Tommy-- we were "talking" at the same time, I guess.. thanks :)


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Marjie,
You're welcome. :) I really don't think you have anything to worry about, I don't think most plants are that fickle about how you water (well the ones I like to grow anyway, I tend to avoid fickle ones).

Planto


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Bromiliads do best if watered from above. Really...I'd not focus on something you overheard like that. Though I expect that you will, anyway.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Sep 9, 12 at 5:31

I'll add my voice to the list of those pointing out that watering from the top and flushing the soil each time you water is the best way to water. Some might argue that watering from the bottom helps reduce the incidence of crown rot, or that it might help save sensitive foliage from water-spotting, or that it may help you avoid dry spots in soils left to dry down to the point they become hydrophobic (water-repellent). The fact still remains, however, that these things can all be avoided with a little care and by adopting an appropriate soil - one that ALLOWS you to water properly; a combination that allows you to to avoid the certainty that watering from the bottom tends to unnecessarily promote the build-up of salts in the soil that accompanies the practice.

If acquiring green thumb status is your goal, you'll find it doesn't necessarily hinge on your building vast holdings of knowledge or years of experience, even though these things sure can't hurt. A few simple things - choosing a soil that allows you to use good watering habits and employing those habits, being able to provide the light a plant wants, and a sound nutritional program, will always work in concert to at least put you in the very near vicinity of the goal that to some seems elusive. If you can get those basics right, there is probably nothing you won't be able to grow well.

You remind me of someone else, now a regular you'd recognize immediately, who came to me asking for help a number of years ago because he was having great difficulty getting ANYTHING to grow well in containers and was frustrated beyond measure. I tried and tried to help him first get to the point where we were sure the basics were covered, but he just couldn't resist trying to implement every piece of advice offered that seemed to make sense. The end result of that was the fact that his progress progress was impossible because whatever the right hand did right, the left quickly UNdid vie his trying to implement 'something he read somewhere' that sounded good. What he had going for him was, he was determined and desperate to become a good grower. If you read my posts, you'll quickly learn that I particularly enjoy helping people who are like that - determined, enthusiastic, open-minded, willing to make whatever effort is required to ensure they turn their goals into realities, but helping him was, for a while, an exercise in futility (for me) because he was handcuffed by his own desperation, by trying to put into practice every piece of advice or tidbit he read on the forums - to the point where the basics were being ignored or turned into secondary considerations. Lol - he elevated being open-minded to an art form.

He's got it together today & does a very good job of turning out healthy plants and helping everyone who needs or wants help - one of GW's more valuable assets, so I feel blessed to have played some part in helping him get to that point, even though I'm quick to give him all the credit, for his diligence and determination. I think he's come far enough to either consciously weigh the impact of any decision he might make against his ability to keep the basics covered once it's implemented, or, he may have enough experience now that it's an intuitive thing. Either way, he has that 'sense' a grower needs to help keep him from caving in to the temptation to trade his ability to cover the basics that got him to where he is today for essentially what amounts to those horticultural 'pigs in a poke'.

You're still tempted from time to time, but you're learning ..... and that you're not afraid to ask questions and sort the collective wisdom from the answers is another habit you have working well for you.

Take care - have a good Sunday. Good luck & good growing!

Al


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Hi Al, no, I am not afraid to ask questions. It is what I do with the answers that I am afraid of.. lol. Mostly I have the basics down pretty much, I still need to learn a lot, and I think/hope I am getting there.

I am going to keep watering/soiling the way I have been doing, seems to be working for me.

Yes, I do read/see things that may put in an idea or 2, and I may even try them out. If it works, great. If not, I've learned something. So far I haven't had any real disasters that I couldn't make up for. I have been scared a few times tho.. never mind the poor plants.. lol

I am by no means someone to ask advice from~~ yet, maybe someday I will get there. :) But until then, I am going to keep apreciating the advice and input I get here. Believe me, this is my first stop!

Thanks everyone for not giving up on me.
Marjie~~ opened minded, but knows when to close the door. she hopes~~


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

I worked in a green house that propagated poinsettias and we had them all in huge bench trays and the trays we would flood with fertilized water. The top of the soil never really got wet.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Tommyr,

Just a comment on watering African violets. I have been growing African violets for over 40 years. I have top watered them, bottom watered them and other ways too. I currently water all of my gesneriads using a wick watering method. The former is just to make it easier for me to have more violets for the amount of work. I can truly say that I have seen no difference with any method I have used. The best one is whatever one is used to.

One thing though. If you top water African violets it is best to use room temperature water. If you get any cold water on and leave it on the leaves it will spot the leaves.

Larry


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

I think you're talking about the so-called "tray method." I had a Drosera regia (King Sundew) a while ago, and until I started it in a tray of water, it was merely surviving. But once it was receiving water from the bottom, it started growing much better and getting its mucus back. Most carnivorous plants like the tray method, since it more closely mimics their natural environment (usually a bog or swamp), and also since they don't like having their leaves watered/sprayed.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

The tray method for CPs is the way to go, except for Nepenthes.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Bottom watering stops compaction in potting soil- the most commonly used grow media.....


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

I think the answer is "Horses for courses", understand the needs of individual types of plants. The problem with putting all your plants in the "one basket" is that they all die together.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

tropic made a good point...different plants have different needs, but if you give them what they want, or what they get in their natural environment, you'll usually have healthy plants.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 1, 12 at 14:52

Most of the plants we grow as houseplants, other than cacti, have amazingly similar wants/needs. Probably the most significant variance is in light requirements. If you can get the light right, what else is there? Soil choice, nutrition, and root maintenance.

Every plant I ever grew performed very well in a soil that offered excellent drainage and a high degree of aeration. Along with those properties, comes a low volume of perched water. The volume of perched water a soil is capable of holding probably negatively impacts more plants and the growing experience of more growers than any other single factor. No matter how we dice it, the plant prefers, and has better potential for growth/vitality, in a soil that supports no perched water whatsoever. As the level of perched water increases, the potential for maximizing growth and vitality decreases. It has to. Decreasing the oxygen available to fuel root function cannot be seen as anything other than a negative. Does your car perform better with a clean air filter or a dirty one? - are fish more lively in a fish bowl with or without an aerator? - it it easier for us to climb a steep hill at sea level or one high in the mountains?

For the most part, plants prefer to have all the essential nutrients in the soil and available at all times, in the same ratio as that in which they are actually used by the plant, and at a concentration high enough to ensure no deficiencies yet low enough to ensure the level of dissolved solids doesn't interfere with the uptake of water and the nutrients dissolved in water. This is very easy to provide to the plant because it's not the ratio of the nutrients used that varies significantly by plant; rather, it's the total volume of nutrients that varies more than the ratio used. 1 fertilizer can cover (easily) 95 - 98% of the plants we commonly grow. I use 1 fertilizer on every plant I grow, and the only 2 plants I do any additional supplementing for are tomatoes and hibiscus.

The point I'm making is, we really don't need to go to great lengths to learn the difference between what plants A and B want, because they pretty much all want the same thing and will all grow well given good light, a well aerated soil that doesn't hold significant volumes of perched water, and a sound nutritional program. Using the right soil even relieves the grower of significant concern about watering habits - it's almost impossible to over-water plants in a soil that doesn't hold perched water.

Where plants vary significantly isn't in their wants, it's in their tolerances. Somehow, plants that don't tolerate wet feet well are often suggested to be allowed to dry down completely before watering; and those that DO tolerate wet feet are said to like a more water-retentive mix. Neither are true. What a plant will tolerate is no measure of what it wants.

Growing in the ground and growing in a container are entirely different. Trying to give plants what they thrive on in their natural environment will more often end in frustration than success. You cannot easily replicate the garden/forest/hillside/meadow in a pot. Soils from these various sites are usually a disaster waiting to happen in containers. Water behaves entirely differently in containers than in the earth, and we can't depend on soil life to break down organic ingredients in the soil fast enough to supply either enough volume or an appropriate range or ratio of nutrients in a container.

In fact, we cannot even be sure that where a plant is normally found is where it prefers to grow. In many cases, plants only grow where they cannot be out-competed by other more vigorous species less adaptable to a poor site. You may find plant A growing only on the edges of a rain forest in part sun, and assume it prefers that location, when in fact it prefers a more humid environment in the shady deep forest, but is out-competed there for space by other taller plants that aren't as adaptable to conditions at the woodland edges. All things are not as they seem at first glance.

Growing is easy if you use a soil that at least allows you to water properly at will. A grower would favor his plants by adopting that as a minimum requirement, IMO. If you can't water anytime you wish w/o worrying about root rot or prolonged soggy conditions impairing root function, you should be looking at another soil that will allow you to .... unless you're ok with leaving a lot of potential lying on the table - because you are. Getting the soil right leaves you with light and nutrition as the other two significant variables that impact your experience most for the short term. Add root maintenance as an additional factor that affects the long term growth and vitality of your plants.

In summary, virtually all plants other than cacti want a soil that is damp, not wet - very near the same ratio of nutrients, just varying amounts - and room for roots to run freely. All of these conditions are easy to achieve, leaving you to figure out how best to provide the light plants need.

While it takes time to truly come to KNOW plants in that sense where it becomes apparent there is a special kind of rapport between the grower and his plants, it's our good fortune and especially so for the newbies, that you don't have to KNOW plants to learn how to grow them well. In some growers, the rapport develops simultaneously with their ability to grow - usually gradually; but in others, their ability to grow well comes quickly - long before the rapport is established. That's just something I've noticed.

Al


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

tapla, your post suggests that there is more than one way to grow most, if not any, plant species. There certainly is. Not sure if this is also what you were saying, but their wants are more specific than their general tolerances. For example, though some species prefer a little more sunlight, they can adapt to a little less. I've found that species considered "difficult to grow" usually need to be more on the "want" side than merely having their basic needs met. A carnivorous plant, for instance, is easily killed by tap water or a soil that is too nutritious, requiring the use of distilled or spring water and a soil that is low in nutrients. And in the case of certain species, such as the King Sundew, a cooler climate along with bright sun and high humidity is a must; if the temperatures are too high, it will tolerate them, but you see far less mucus on such specimens. Give a plant what it will tolerate but not what is wants, and it will survive. Give a plant what it prefers, and it will thrive.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

I agree with Nadaud, "not all plants were created equal". On carnivores, I have a Nepenthes that is a swamp dweller, unlike most other Nepenthes which are epiphytes/lithophytes. So mine has a container of water at the bottom of the pot, a situation that would probably kill a lot of other Nepenthes.

I have Spathiphyllums growing in a pot sitting in water, you can't get more "perched water" than that, and it's thriving. I got the idea from seeing that was how they grow in nature. And a lot of other people are growing them the same. Mine's been there about 6 months, behind it is a Lagenandra in a similar situation, been there about 2 years and thriving.

I like getting out, finding house/garden plants growing naturally and take photos. These are usually posted on garden sites (like this one) with comments on observed conditions. Many people express a great appreciation that I do it, saying that it gives them the answers to why their plants have died, or just aren't thriving, despite their best enveadours. Of course there'll always be others who go on doing the same thing over and expect different results.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

I tend to bottom water most of my houseplants, less disturbance to the soil. Especially with newly potted plants. And some plants dont like wet leaves!


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 2, 12 at 8:04

I limited my comments to plants we commonly grow as houseplants, and most of us don't grow carnivorous plants as houseplants, so I freely acknowledge their care has some special considerations. I'm talking about the plants regularly discussed here, and though I thought it was apparent, perhaps it's my bad for not pointing out I was talking about plants grown under conventional container culture - not aqua/hydroculture.

Before I comment about Spathiphyllums, let me say that Steve Lucas had agreed wholeheartedly on these pages about what I post about soils and spaths, and has stated so more times than I could count. That these plants grow in riparian settings where they naturally occur is a fact. It's also a fact that plants that grow in these settings develop a root system different than plants grown in well aerated mediums, a root system adapted to hydro/aquaculture. The problem is, plants don't make the transition back and forth between largely airless conditions in the root zone to reasonably well-aerated conditions as the soggy layer of soil (the perched water table) is allowed to dry down - without considerable difficulty. One root system takes it's O2 for root metabolism from the rhizosphere, the other has roots structured so O2 comes from the top of the plant - aerenchymous vs parenchymous root tissues. Still though, these plants NEED a good continuous supply of O2 for root function. They can get that continuous supply through an aquacultural arrangement or a well-aerated soil, but soils that alternate between soggy & reasonably well-aerated are going to present problems, which is exactly why so many hundreds of growers have such difficulty growing their peace lilies w/o unhealthy looking foliage

You CAN treat every plant differently if you wish, but it's not necessary. That I grow virtually every plant I own or have owned using the same type of soils and the same fertilizer is pretty good testimony that almost all the plants we commonly grow will do very well with the same treatment, other than light (and of course allowances for temps and dormancy requirements). I don't think that anyone will disagree that every plant or mixed planting I've ever shown pictures of were always perfectly healthy, including those plants in the background that weren't the subject of the photo. It's not that tricky. ;-)

Al


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Tapla is very right.

It is science.

I saw a chart that showed what plants uptake in nutrients, it was a bar type of graph. It show NPK to be at a 3;1;2 ratio. Then it showed the secondary macronutrients, and on to the micronutrients. Foliage pro fits the bill, and is the very same ratios of what plants uptake.

I hate to show this, but this plant was grown with only a 24-8-16, no bloom boosters. I would say there is a lot of blooms!!!

Photobucket


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Tapla, your claimed experience is not my experience, I'll definitely go with mine.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Hi Al

Got a few questions for you...

I'm not understanding perched water. I learned in Soil Science that one of the characteristics of a properly formulated soilless mix is that it moves water evenly throughout the volume of soil, and this is also what I've observed. So why does perched water just sit there instead of moving?

For 30 years I've been caring for, and studying the habits of, the 40 or so common houseplant species used commercially. I've observed that keeping then "evenly moist" will result in a much shorter life for the plants than establishing regular cycles of moistening and drying, especially for plants at the lower light levels. I'm not questioning your experience; I'm just trying to understand why seemingly opposite practices would both have excellent results. I'm guessing the operative word here is 'seemingly'.

Re: your comments on spaths, why have I had success growing beautiful spaths for years by "drying down", or aerating, the soil to around 80% between waterings, in ordinary soilless mix, probably a number of different types, while you have found they do best if kept moist. I have found that is sure to damage the plant, and ultimately rot it out completely.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 2, 12 at 22:58

TB - I have no wish to even try to change your mind, but I think it's counter-productive for growers like Lamora to think that they need to jump through a different set of hoops for each plant they grow, because they don't.

FW - The only soils that move water evenly through the entire soil volume are soils that support NO perched water, and then the even distribution of water is temporary. An even distribution of water through soils that support perched water is impossible, utilizing common growing techniques. Most bagged soils support several inches of perched water at container capacity. Let's pick an average ht of the perched water table and call it 4". In an 8" soil column, the bottom 4" of soil will be entirely saturated at container capacity, and will REMAIN partially saturated as the plant either gradually uses the water or it gradually evaporates. Roots in the soil occupied by perched water function poorly during this period of saturation. Metabolism is severely impaired and the plant can't effectively move water or nutrients to the top of the plant. This is why foliage of plants grown in water-retentive soils is so often flawed and roots suffer. Essentially, water absorption is an energy driven process that is fueled by oxygen, so when deprived of oxygen, the top of the plant can slowly die of thirst while the roots swim in a sea of plenty.

Evenly moist is just that - moist .... damp. It doesn't mean evenly wet or evenly saturated. Roots absorb water a molecule at a time, from water vapor in soil pores and from the microscopically thin film of water on colloidal surfaces. In a perfect world, a soil with perfect moisture retention would have no water retained in the pores between soil particles. All soil moisture in water form would be present inside soil particles and as a thin, microscopic film on colloidal surfaces. Additionally there would be water in vapor form inside soil particles and in spaces between soil particles.

A soil that requires frequent rewetting to supply enough moisture to sustain the plant in good health will always provide greater potential for root health than soils that support perched water (like the soils you're used to using) - and especially soils that support perched water and give it up slowly. Simply said, perched water is inhibiting of root function, and the more perched water soils hold, the more inhibiting they are.

I think the idea that evenly moist soils = a shorter life span for our plants can't be made to hold water - no pun intended. The soil I use for houseplants (the gritty mix) holds little or no perched water, and holds virtually all its moisture on the surface of particles and inside the particles. That means the soil remains very nearly perfectly aerated from the top of the container to the bottom at all times - nothing to impair root function. They require more frequent watering, but from the plant's perspective, that is a MAJOR plus. The grower may not appreciate the extra effort required, even though it's no where near as bad a some have made it out to be, but the plants definitely show their appreciation ...... and for beginners, these fast soils take most of the guesswork and risk out of growing. The margin for grower error is just soo much greater - they're simply much, much more forgiving, and offer plants much greater opportunity to grow to their potential. My plants are always vibrant and their foliage almost always unblemished by anything attributable to physiologic reasons.

I know you're a proponent of limiting growth to maintain plants at a certain size, but nature won't allow stasis, so the idea of 'maintaining' plants in a state of stasis is foreign - maybe not to you because of your job, but it's foreign to nature and I think to most growers. About as close to that as I would want to come would be the regular allowing of a plant to grow robustly and increase it's energy reserves before I cut it back to keep it within the vision I have for maintaining its size and shape. That is healthy - trying to limit a plant's growth by supplying less than favorable cultural conditions is unhealthy, so we don't see eye to eye on that point.

I WANT my plants to grow - to have a robust metabolism and significantly increase their mass every year, even if it IS only temporary - until I physically reduce their mass at an advantageous time through pruning the top and roots.

Anyway - if you were sincere in saying you don't get the perched water thing, I honestly think you would benefit significantly by gaining a thorough understanding of it. When the light went on for me, 20+ years ago, it made the clear cut difference between my success and failure. I know it's done that for hundreds & hundreds of others I've helped as well, because the comments to that effect are all over the forums & my email is full of them. Realistically, you just can't argue against something that has made so much positive difference for such a large number of growers. I WANT people to put the concept into practical application because I want them to get as much as possible from their growing experience, but I don't lose any sleep over those who say, "Nope, not for me".

Al


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Tropicbreeze,

I should probably further explain my photo. I gave that pepper plant an "all purpose" ferilizer, there could not be anymore blooms on the plant!!! No "special" fertilzer, no bloom boosters.

I used to argue this point too when I thought plants really had these huge different nutrition needs, but what Tapla is showing is pure science. The great thing about science is there really is no opinions, just facts! :0

So Tapla stands correct.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

So, did you water those plants, gardener? They look a bit thirsty in that picture. ;-)


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

What on earth is perched water?


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

greenlarry

You can read this post - written by Al:

read here

or here just a couple of paragraphs from that post:

There will be a naturally occurring "perched water table" (PWT) in containers when soil particulate size is under about .125 (1/8) inch. This is water that occupies a layer of soil that is always saturated & will not drain from the portion of the pot it occupies. It can evaporate or be used by the plant, but physical forces will not allow it to drain. It is there because the capillary pull of the soil at some point will surpass the GFP; therefore, the water does not drain, it is said to be 'perched'. The smaller the size of the particles in a soil, the greater the height of the PWT. This water can be tightly held in heavy (comprised of small particles) soils and 'perch' (think of a bird on a perch) just above the container bottom where it will not drain; or, it can perch in a layer of heavy soil on top of a coarse drainage layer, where it will not drain.

Imagine that we have five cylinders of varying heights, shapes, and diameters, each with drain holes, and we fill them all with the same soil mix, then saturate the soil. The PWT will be exactly the same height in each container. This saturated area of the container is where roots initially seldom penetrate & where root problems frequently begin due to a lack of aeration. Water and nutrient uptake are also compromised by lack of air in the root zone. Keeping in mind the fact that the PWT height is dependent on soil particle size and has nothing to do with height or shape of the container, we can draw the conclusion that: Tall growing containers will always have a higher percentage of unsaturated soil than squat containers when using the same soil mix. The reason: The level of the PWT will be the same in each container, with the taller container providing more usable, air holding soil above the PWT. From this, we could make a good case that taller containers are easier to grow in.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 3, 12 at 7:46

Perched water is water that occupies that soggy layer of soil at the bottom of your pot or above a "drainage layer" and refuses to drain. It just sits there, impeding root function, until it either gets used by the plant or evaporates. Perched water is the source of more problems on this forum than any other single cause, and can affect plants directly through its effects on the root system or indirectly, through its weakening effects on the plant, which allows secondary pathogens to become established (insects, disease, ...). The amount of perched water a soil can/will hold is directly related to the size and size distribution of the particles that make up the soil. A jar of fine sand holds a tall perched water table. A jar of marbles holds no perched water table. A jar filled with half fine sand and half marbles supports a perched water table of the same ht as the sand only, and has the same drainage characteristics of the sand only.

If you want to learn more about soils, with emphasis on how water behaves in container media, including detailed discussion of perched water causes and effects, use the link below.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: More about soils if you click me!


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Hmm interesting but water collects in the tray underneath. Plus most of my houseplants have been either succulents, with little or no 'perched' water, or plants like pelargonium that require less watering.
What about plants like Cyperus that must be standing in water? Had one of those once, lovely plants.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 3, 12 at 9:08

If you read the entire text, you'll understand why water collects in the tray, and why that has no bearing on how much perched water your soils can/will hold.

Perched water is a reality and a negative influence on the well being of your plants. It is a particularly noxious presence in shallow containers. Learning what causes it and how to manage it provides you with many additional insights that will help you understand soils and what is occurring but can't be seen - unless you count the manifestation of its effects, which often go undiagnosed or incorrectly diagnosed by those who lack the understanding. Whether one avails himself of the knowledge or not is up to the individual, but acquiring the knowledge certainly has no downside.

Al


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

"Posted by rhizo_1 7a AL (My Page) on Wed, Oct 3, 12 at 5:39

So, did you water those plants, gardener? They look a bit thirsty in that picture. ;-) "

Yup they are wilting which is a sign of time to water. That is how you grow hot peppers....

Also when you have a lot of plants it is easy to watch them wilt, then water, rather then going and picking up each container to see when it is time to water. I could not say if wilting effects yield because my spare freezer is full of peppers!!!!!


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Tapla,

Everything you said makes great sense to me. I enjoy your writing and learn from it everyday.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

I've been following this, since I'm the one that started it. :) I thought for a while there I had started an argument, but things have calmed down since. I hope this didn't upset anyone.

I guess it is one of those "Different Strokes for Different Folks" thing, "to each their own". And that is good.

I do love reading how people do things that work for them. So much information to take in.. I wish my brain could process it better-- ha-ha.

Thanks for all the replies on this~ and I'm sorry again if I started any kind of arguement, that was not my intent. Couriosity got the best of me~~

Marjie


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Hi Marjie,

Pls. accept the fact that folks are going to disagree here sometimes, it's not necessarily an argument (or anything you started) or even a bad thing. Folks have differing opinions & as long as we are all respectful & civil in expressing our disagreements, we'll be OK.

Pls. don't feel badly or that you are 'responsible' for it.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

"I guess it is one of those "Different Strokes for Different Folks" thing, "to each their own". And that is good."

It is not though. In science there is only ONE right answer leaving everyone 'opinions' wrong.

When tropic breeze posted- "I agree with Nadaud, "not all plants were created equal". Along with some other things that I dont want to copy and paste...

This can mislead people, like tapla said, into thinking they need to search down different fertilizers.

"Posted by tropicbreezent (My Page) on Tue, Oct 2, 12 at 19:23

Tapla, your claimed experience is not my experience, I'll definitely go with mine."

Whats wrong tropic? Wasted a lot of money on pointless fertilizer for different plants thinking you needed them?


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

All we can do is keep learning, comparing anecdotes, and trying to understand it all. There are probably factors at work to which none of us have ever given any thought because, to do so, the existence of the factors would have to be known, or at least imagined. We no longer "know" the world is flat...

Humans still can't say for sure if it will rain tomorrow, or harness the gardening power and energy of squirrels. Mosquitoes continue to dine on us as we put nonrenewable fuels into our extremely inefficient vehicles, sneezing from the common cold. Always room for improvement and more learning. I think we've got this plant thing pretty well nailed-down, but to close our minds would be a mistake. (And boring.)

Hope everyone continues to share in a clear and civilized way. As humans, we will retain different tidbits, not believe some things, have different sets of experiences against which to gauge the info, have preconceived notions about the deliverer of the facts, misunderstand, fail to comprehend, exaggerate, discount an important mitigating factor, etc... to infinity, literally. But at the heart of things is the fact that everyone wants to learn and have great plants. If nothing else, we can appreciate that about anyone here.

I've seen the difference between letting poor soil dry completely and using a soil with the properties described by Al. Don't think I still fully comprehend everything he's been writing about, but I keep reading and trying to extrapolate the info to my plants and soil. Long before I encountered Al, I started noticing that plants do better in what I call chunky soil, which I never could understand because I thought the air pockets that must be in those pots were the only thing wrong with them, but it was working so I kept doing it. Learning more about the science of roots has helped me understand why the change in my methods helped improve my plants. Pretty much the opposite of my theories, but that doesn't matter if it works, and as I understand it more, I can tweak and make my "stuff" better. It's helped my attitude to evolve from "I've found the plants I can grow well" to "I've found a method that should allow me to grow about anything I want if the climatological factors aren't a conflict." I've been re-buying every plant I can find that I thought "I can't grow that" and it's working! These plants don't hate me, just bad soil and dark corners.

Once these things are known, it's easy to see why some of the myths are busted; this plant likes to be rootbound, hates wet feet, about to cut my ties with the crutch "let it dry out completely" because I no longer believe it, but I also think a lot of it's probably just me not being honest with myself about how much moisture is still in the pots sometimes, and it's probably rare that a plant of mine actually does dry out completely. So I haven't been doing it anyway.

Bottom watering, if water won't travel up through your mix, it's a moot point.

When people disagree with me and tell me why, it's some of the most helpful stuff that happens here, and has saved some of my plants from my wrong ideas/assumptions. Any sincere input is always welcome in my inbox. I think it's a good discussion, Lamora, thanks for starting it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Horticultural myths (busted)


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

MG, your understanding of science describes something that is not possible in the real world. Science is fluid, ever changing. As a matter of fact, if not for opinions, alternative theories, and eexperimentation there would never be any advances. Good science is based on knowledge AND practice.

Al has done a great deal of observation, study, and experimentation to come up with various soil recipes that he shares so generously. There is no question that these mixes work well for most people who use them. This success is because of his thorough and careful application of scientific principles as they apply to the ingredients and their amounts.

But please know that it is perfectly possible for anyone to do exactly the same thing....observe, study, and experiment. You do it yourself, lol! (Allowing plants to wilt badly before watering isn't how most of us grow. At least not on purpose. You're breaking lots of scientific principles...yet it seems to work for you. Your peppers look great.) Based on your results, I'm not going to say that you're wrong.

It is often said that the one certainty about science is uncertainty. The more we know....the more we don't know. I can tell you from my own considerable experiences in this field over many years that rules change often due to scientific studies, advances in our ability to observe the natural world, and lots of research. I've had the great fortune of meeting and even working with some of the finest minds in the world. These are the men who were filled with awe and wonder, always seeming to be looking around the corner for the next big surprise.

I've had to change my ways of doing things in the horticultural world many times, as new and tested scientific principles come rolling in like a big old thunder storm....it's so exciting.

Science is fluid.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 4, 12 at 15:37

MG - I started to compose a reply to your recent offering soon after you posted, but duty (work) called and I had to abandon it, but I see I'm not the only one left feeling your post was inflammatory. Normally I wouldn't say anything, but since you're agreeing with me, I wanted to comment. Disagreeing with someone is one thing, but taunting them is another. More rancor than we need often arises from innocent and straightforward disagreement that one of the parties can't handle, even without the added element of snark. I wouldn't go so far as to tell you how you should behave, but I do know that if you want to agree with me, that just saying you agree is always appreciated, and infinitely more preferable to intentionally trying to stir the pot. If you have something positive to offer that advances your position or you want to illustrate why someone else is in error, then present your thoughts so we can consider them fairly, and in the light of their having been offered to advance someone else's understanding. That way, if people react poorly to what you presented, it's 'their bad'.

SOME science is cut and dried, like the physics and chemistry of soil science. It's predictable. Other aspects of the growing sciences depend a lot on nuance and how various influences combine to affect the whole of the outcome. That's why in many cases there are several ways to arrive in the near vicinity of the same goal, even if not all ways work equally well. Sometimes all that's needed to get to the same place is a little added effort, and even THAT statement can be looked at in different ways.

For example, I think it's very true that growers having difficulty growing in heavy soils can improve their lot by choosing to increase their efforts from varied options. They can take the steps necessary to closely track the plant's moisture needs, then expel excess water from their containers after every watering and periodically flush their soils of accumulating salts; or, they can expend the effort it takes to build a superior soil and water a little more frequently. Within just the framework of this paragraph, there is room for volumes of nuance and variability that have enough potential to determine the difference between success & failure. If you don't understand the nuance, you don't understand the science and your voice becomes one of many.

"Science is fluid" I agree much more than disagree. I think the bones of science are rigid, but what fleshes them out are very fluid because of constant advancement in new discoveries. I wrote a long thread called "You Gotta Change Man, or You Die" That was a quote from an old friend who happens to be a past president of the MI Nurseryman's Assn. We and our wives were enjoying dinner and the quote came as a forerunner of his fairly involved description of how much things had changed in the last 30 years - so much so that he said "We don't do ANYTHING like we did it 30 years ago". Of course, that was something of an exaggeration in order to make the point, but it illustrates how fast things change. There is no reason to think it couldn't be applied to our own way of thinking. If you're doing things the way you did 30, 20, 10 years ago, it's a good bet there are improvements to be found in opening our minds to innovation and fresh perspectives. If you're doing things the way you did 10 years ago, it's probably a near certainty you're behind the times - true at least where converting potential to the tangible is used as a base of comparison. Such are the ways of science and it's relentless march. If you snooze, you lose.

Al



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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Tapla,

I do agree with you, but I dont think I was 'inflammatory'.

"Posted by tropicbreezent (My Page) on Tue, Oct 2, 12 at 19:23

Tapla, your claimed experience is not my experience, I'll definitely go with mine."

Notice how they used 'claimed' that right there is being 'smart'.

If it was just- "Tapla, your experience is not my experience, I'll definitely go with mine"

That would be different.

I am not the one that is 'inflammatory'


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

I know what you mean, I will try to present my information in a more positive manner.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 4, 12 at 18:12

Lol - I understand what you're saying, I noticed it, and I agree with your assessment; but you notice I didn't respond in kind to the comments? To what advantage? If the person would have wanted to debate a point about growing, I'd have been glad to oblige, but sticks & stones .... I really don't care about the personal effrontery, other than to point it out when it's being used as a tactic to shift focus from the point in contention - and in this case, it wasn't used to shift focus and it wasn't anything to get too upset about - happens all the time - just how some people satisfy their need to make their feelings known.

Besides - how did some one's words directed at me, harm you? I get in enough trouble on my own by virtue of my propensity for pointing to error or misinformation. I do think I'm well equipped to fend for myself when the need arises, but I sure don't need someone out there agitating on my behalf. If you think some one's action was inappropriate enough that you want to call them on it, please do it on your own behalf & not mine. ;-) That's a fair request.

Al


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 4, 12 at 18:16

Ok - good. Please disregard my last post. I was putting it together at the same time you were posting, and I can see it was unnecessary, in view of your last. Sorry.

Al


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Because nutrition was brought up I thought someone was arguing that plant have different nutrition needs. I see that what not argued directly. That is what I thought tropic was talking about, but it was not.

I was just standing up for info i learned on here in general. :)


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

By the way. That mouse looks like it hit the jackpot! :)


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 4, 12 at 18:39

Look again. It's totally stoned.

Al


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

I am very sorry for a thrid post, but I dont want my first post to be misleading.

"Because nutrition was brought up I thought someone was arguing that plant have different nutrition needs."

I should say that Plants dont really have different nutrition needs. This is something I said already, and have learned on here. I have to see I saw a chart that showed what 'PLANTS' uptake as far as macro and micronutrient ratios go. Sure enough NPK was 3;1;2 ratio, then it went on into the micronutrients. After seeing that chart I can say you can use one fertilizer for every plant.

I dont want to get off topic about bottom watering either.


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Is that a real pic? Overcome with curiosity - how does a mouse get stoned? Something about the Yarrow?


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RE: What plants need "bottom watering"?

Wow. You guys sure cover alot of ground in a short time. Two days ago I had a couple of doctor appts, then I dropped my phone in the toilet and had to spend a day getting a new one and learning to use it, and by the time I got back to GW, y'all had moved on and on. So I sat down to write some stuff anyway - ok, alot of stuff - but I forgot I had accessed from my email, and when I tried to post the whole thing disappeared in a puff of "error, error." Don't have time to write the whole thing again, opportunity will present in the future I'm sure, so just wanted to address a couple of small matters.

Al, yes, I'm very interested in porous mixes, because I'm interested in helping people grow plants successfully, whether just a few to beautify their homes, or to get into it as a major hobby. Thanks to you, I now have another subject to research. (Having come late to the internet, like 6 months, I find myself almost overwhelmed by the possibilities of inquiry, research, and questioning - damn you, internet genie)(Just kidding. I love it)

Anyway, I want to set straight a misconception that you mentioned upthread (love that word). Maintenance, as in "professional plant maintenance" doesn't mean maintaining a plant at a particular size through contorted horticultural practices. It means maintaining the plant's appearance/beauty as long as possible. When the plant grows too big, if it can't be pruned or trimmed, it is replaced with one of the specified size. The removed plant is used in another account - the usual action - or it is given to the customer or the plant tech, or it is offered for sale to the public at reduced cost. BTW, look for interior landscape companies under 'plants' in local directories to see if they have any good bargains available.


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