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Top or bottom watering?

Posted by ninjabut USDA z 8,CA (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 8, 10 at 20:40

I keep hearing different opinions on this.
How best to water your seedlings before and after germination? This is my first year starting seeds indoors.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Top or bottom watering?

I would highly recommend bottom watering throughout the growing season until they are in their final destination (container or garden beds). Bottom watering does not wash away the soil, pool water around the seedlings that may lead to damping-off disease and allows the plants to 'self-wick' water. Because I only bottom water, I do use a fan when they are a bit larger so they can build stronger stems.

Best reason.....it is much easier!

I hope that helps : )

Keriann~


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RE: Top or bottom watering?

I use both methods. But if you bottom water and have a lot of minerals in your water you will build up a salt crust on the top surface if you bottom water for several weeks, especially if you have your plants out in the sun. Eventually the salt crust will kill the plant if it gets bad enough.


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RE: Top or bottom watering?

I am no expert in the matter, but I can tell you what I do, and it has worked for me with great results!

I top water until the seedling are of a good size, starting off just misting, then switching to a little watering can with a tiny spout opening so that the water dribbles out slowly. I find that bottom watering makes the soil far too moist for little seedlings. I guess its just a matter of preference, I just feel that seedlings don't really need that much water.

Water shouldn't stay pooled around your seedlings when you top water, if it does then you need a different type of mix, or a smaller spouted watering can!


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RE: Top or bottom watering?

Bottom watering only is the standard recommendation. Top watering only leads to shallow root development and faster nutrient loss in the pots.

But do your own experiment - try both on different sets of plants. That way you can learn for yourself which works better.

Dave


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RE: Top or bottom watering?

  • Posted by dicot Los Angeles (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 9, 10 at 15:50

I grow in flats and top water only, using peroxide before germination and chamomile tea afterward to prevent fungal or other pathogen growth. But I also germinate outside only and never use pots or peat, so my methodology seems different from most other seed starters.


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RE: Top or bottom watering?

I had a horticulturist tell me that bottom watering and top watering are ideal. She said water is attracted to itself chemically. So she bottom waters and then sprays the top so there aren't any dry spots. I guess this would at least work well when the seeds are initally planted and the mix may be hard to moisten.

Kim


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RE: Top or bottom watering?

I have always watered from the bottom until this year. I don't know if it's because I used a different seed starting soil, or if it's because the plants themselves are acting different from others I've started from seed, but this year bottom watering isn't going to work. No 2 cells get dry at the same time, so I've been watering each cell individually as needed. I was hoping this would even out as the plants got bigger, but no dice. It will be interesting to note at transplanting time if this has a negative effect on the roots.


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RE: Top or bottom watering?

Depends on so many things, especially the soil mix.
I top water only when I have to. Some times you do.
I sickened a bunch of tomato seedling last year by top watering them. I won't do that again.


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RE: Top or bottom watering?

Well, that was clear as mud! LOLOL About 1/2 and 1/2!
I guess I'll just experiment. Thanks for your responses. Nancy


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RE: Top or bottom watering?

Perhaps a good answer would be that the majority of the watering should come from the bottom, with just enough of a misting on the surface to ensure that a crust doesn't form on the surface as well as to make sure that small seedlings with undeveloped roots are not sitting in a dry top half of the soil, while moisture remains in the lower half of the container. Everyone would agree, I'm sure, that at no point do you want your seedlings sitting in soggy, soupy dirt, but neither do you want them in a bone-dry lockdown. It's a fine line; luckily, most seedlings are forgiving. Those that aren't...well, live and learn! Also helps so much to really research the specific needs of the individual variety you're growing. Different plants like different conditions, some dry, some damp, some are very susceptible to damping off, some you can bury up to the leaves when you transplant, some will wither and die if you do that. Research! :)


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