Over watering plants solutions

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When Potted Plants Are Too Wet: How To Avoid Overwatering Of Container Plants

Even the professionals may have trouble determining the exact water needs of a plant. The results can be disastrous due to the stress from over or under watering. Overwatering in potted plants is of the most concern, as they are in a captive habitat. Nutrients are washed away and mold or fungal issues may develop with overwatering. Under watering creates an inhospitable environment where plants can’t intake nutrients and wither or die. A few tips and tricks can teach you how to avoid overwatering of container plants for healthy, no-fuss greenery and ways of treating overwatered plants.

Overwatering really is a fine line with many species of plant. While we know plants need water, even cacti, the exact amount and frequency may be something of a mystery. Container plants with too much water may experience foliage die off, rotten roots and tubers, and promotion of some pests or mold issues. All of these stress the plant and compromise its health. Potted plants that are too wet may even simply rot off at the crown or base.

How to Avoid Overwatering of Container Plants

An obvious method to prevent overwatering in potted plants is with the use of a moisture meter. You also need to know

your plant species and its watering needs. A broad guide for plants is to keep the top few inches of soil moderately moist. When this area is dry, apply water deeply and then allow the soil to dry to the touch again, before adding more water.

A low tech solution is to get your fingers grimy. Push a finger into the soil up to the second knuckle or test the bottom of the post through a drainage hole. Never let the bottom of the container rest in a pool of water unless it is an aquatic plant, and even then, drain and refill the saucer frequently to prevent fungus gnats and root rot.

What Plants Like it Wet and Which Like it Dry

Broadly speaking, even moisture is the best option for many container plants.

Low Moisture Plants

Cacti and succulents should have dry periods in the winter when active growth is not occurring but need moderate water during the growing season. Examples of other low moisture plants are:

  • Aloe
  • Bromeliads
  • Cast iron plant
  • Ponytail palms
  • Spider plants

Moderate Watering Needs

Tropical plants and understory specimens will need moderate water and high humidity. These include:

  • Philodendron
  • Figs
  • Dragon trees
  • Bird of paradise

You can increase humidity with misting or by placing the pot on a saucer filled with pebbles and water.

High Moisture Plants

Extreme moisture needs are found in plants like:

  • African violet
  • Lipstick plants
  • Maidenhair ferns
  • Dieffenbachia

Treating Overwatered Plants

There are some ways to save overwatered plants.

  • Changing the soil to a grittier mix with better drainage may help.
  • Check the drainage holes at repotting and ensure they are open.
  • Use containers that help evaporate excess moisture, such as terra cotta and unglazed containers.
  • Remove the plant from its growing medium and rinse the roots to get off any fungal spores that may be forming. Then dust the roots with a fungicide and repot.
  • Move your plant to a shady location, as plants in shade use less water and you can let it dry out a bit. After a few weeks, move it back to its preferred lighting level.

Sometimes you simply can’t save potted plants that are too wet. Container plants with too much water need to be treated as soon as possible, as the longer the situation continues, the less likely there is to be a full recovery.

Tips on how to avoid overwatering plants

Summer watering can be tricky. We consistently have customers come in and ask, ‘What is going on with my plant?’ Often times, improper watering such as too much water or overwatering, too little water or poor drainage is the answer. Here are tips on how to avoid these issues:

  1. We always suggest using a Moisture Meter. These are inexpensive tools to help you learn what is happening in the root zone of the plant. For complete information on how to use Moisture Meters, visit our recent blog post here.
  2. Apply Jump Start at planting. Good Earth brand Jump Start contains mycorrhizae, a beneficial fungi that helps plant roots develop thousands of root hairs. This increases the surface area of roots, which in turn, allows the plant to increase its capability to absorb and utilize up to 1,000 times more water and nutrients. Jump Start can be used at planting, and on already planted materials. If your plants are already in the ground, pull back any mulch and apply directly on the ground within the drip zone of the plant, replace mulch and water.
  3. Be patient. It can take a few years for your plant to get established. During that time, the plant may experience some stress. Don’t get too alarmed; a bit of stress is normal during establishment. However, if the plant consistently shows signs of stress, bring us pictures or samples so we can best advise you.

Proper watering is very important to plant health; visit this blog post for more watering tips.

All living things need both water and air to survive and thrive. For this reason, your plants must be able to breathe both above and below the soil level. Over-watering plants stop plants from “breathing.”

Even specimens needing consistently moist soil also need light soil that allows roots to breathe.

Over watered plants do not have any defense against disease.

Heavy, waterlogged soil compacts and smothers plant roots causing suffocation, root rot and plant death by drowning, disease or infestation.

One of the most common reasons hopeful gardeners fail with specimens is over watering plants.

It is important to know the water needs of each type of plant in your care and water accordingly.

Unfortunately, many gardeners take an overly enthusiastic one-size-fits-all approach.

In this article, we’ll look at the problem of overwatering plants and share advice to help give your specimens the right amount of water at the right time. Read on to learn more.

Good Timing Is Essential To Correct Watering

Just as different specimens have different water requirements, different times of the year also affect the amount of water you should give a plant.

For all plants, you should water more during the growing season and less during the dormant season.

For most plants, this means watering more in the spring and summer and less in the autumn and the winter.

Specimens that bloom and flourish in the winter months such as orchids, azaleas, Christmas cactus and the like require a reversed schedule.

Understanding the natural yearly cycle of your plant is of the utmost importance when determining when and how much water it needs.

Do your homework whenever you add a new plant so you will know how to care for it correctly.

Choose indoor specimens that thrive with the kind of care you want to give.

Over-Watering – What To Look For

Overwatering and waterlogging can lead to pest damage, but very often the damage caused by overwatering can be mistaken for pest damage.

Remember that pest damage rarely takes place on the roots at soil level. This kind of damage is usually root rot caused by fungus.

Specimens habitually kept in waterlogged soil lack oxygen, and this condition stunts the growth and causes yellow leaves.

Yellowing of leaves is often the first noticeable sign people see since yellowing leaves are the most visible.

Some specimens experience leaf burn or leaf scorch. Other symptoms include edema or blistering on the leaves and the stems.

When fungal infection caused by overwatering sets in, root ball rot, and the crown of the plant may also rot.

Watering Tips

When watering, give them a thorough soaking when needed, this is better than a little very often.

How To Water Plants Successfully

To prevent root rot problems and pest invasion, it is important to establish good watering practices.

Don’t just give your specimens a little drink.

It is far better to give almost any plant a thorough soaking occasionally than a light drink daily or several times a week.

When you water deeply and infrequently, it encourages the roots to grow deep to access moist, cool soil.

This establishes strong root systems and healthier specimens while discouraging the development of fungus.

Generally, for mature potted and container specimens (with some exceptions) you should wait until the soil is quite dry several inches down.

Then water until the water runs through the container’s drainage holes.

Let the plant sit and soak in its saucer for half an hour, then pour off the excess so the plant does not drown. Growing the Hibiscus is a good example. The tropical hibiscus plant likes plenty of drink but does not like to sit in it.

To avoid root rot, never let a plant stand in a saucer full of water on an ongoing basis.

There are several steps you can take to avoid accidentally leaving a plant sitting in water for too long.

  • Make the soil light and airy by mixing in gravel, sand, perlite or other fine, light ingredients.
  • Include drainage in the bottom of the pot with a layer of pot shards, large gravel or Styrofoam peanuts.
  • Be sure any pot you use has good drainage holes.
  • Use terra cotta or wood pots or baskets lined with coconut coir fiber or peat to allow good air circulation to the roots.
  • Establish a pebble tray under the plant. Fill the plant saucer with pebbles to hold the bottom of the pot out of the water.

This allows evaporation, which improves humidity levels immediately surrounding the plant. For larger areas, such as entire plant shelves, invest in a humidity mat.

Self Watering Systems Helping Prevent Over Watering

There are quite a few excellent self-watering systems on the market today. There are also lots of good DIY projects you can pursue to make your own.

The concept behind self-watering systems (SIPs) is that it allows you to place a measured amount in a reservoir.

Then on a regular basis, the wicking or misting system will deliver it to your specimens as needed.

These systems can work by natural means, such as a wick or sponge automatically drawing moisture into the soil by capillary action when it becomes dry.

There are also systems that work by a timer, apps that inform you when it’s time and a wide variety of other interesting options.

This type of system is handy, but you should not rely on it entirely. It is still necessary to give your specimens an occasional thorough drink to flush out any salts and excessive fertilizer buildup.

Plant Watering FAQs

Is it possible to set a plant watering schedule?

Once you have familiarized yourself with the needs of your specimens, you may be able to establish a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. Even so, you should check the soil and observe the condition of your specimens. Your schedule will need to be adjusted to take weather and season changes into account.

How can you tell if a plant needs water?

There are several ways to tell if it is time to water:

Before providing a drink for any plant, feel the soil. Poke your finger into the surface of the soil an inch or two. If it’s dry, your plant needs a drink.

With clay pots, you can thump the outside of the pot (as you would when testing a watermelon for ripeness).

If you hear a dull thud, it means the soil is damp under the surface and you don’t need to provide a drink.

If your thumping produces an empty, hollow sound, it means there is a hollow, empty space at the base of the pot and you need to water.

Wilted leaves. If your plant is wilted, it may very well need a drink. Check the soil to be sure it is dry because there are other problems (pests or disease) that may cause wilting.

What if a plant becomes very dry?

If you are away or neglect a plant for some other reason, you may be able to revive it (even if it seems dead) by soaking the whole pot in a tub.

It’s best to use water that has set out for 24 hours to allow chemicals to dissipate and to attain room temperature.

Put the whole pot into the tub and allow it to sit for half an hour or until all bubbling stops (whichever comes second).

By doing this, you can be sure that all of the soil has been soaked and the roots have had a chance to revive and get a good drink without suffocating.

7 Tips To Help Avoid Overwatering Outdoor Plants

Overwatering your yard and garden can be expensive in terms of waste, killed specimens and even damage to your property and the foundation of your home.

#1 – Choose plants that agree with your tendencies. Look for outdoor specimens that naturally prefer the type of soil, light and other conditions in your yard.

Native plants are sure winners in this respect.

#2 – Maintain your downspouts and your irrigation pipes properly to prevent leaks that may cause soaked spots in your yard and garden.

#3 – It may seem as if your outdoor plants need attending to if the surface of the soil is arid. Check the surface to determine if they really need a drink.

Use a soil probe to check or a trowel to dig down a bit. If the soil at the root zone is still moist, you don’t need to do anything.

If the soil smells rotten or sour, you know that you have watered too much.

#4 – Don’t mistake natural wilt for lack of water. If your outdoor specimens wilt when the sun is hot, wait to water them.

Observe them after the sun goes down and the day cools.

They may perk back up on their own. If not, drench deeply, early the next morning and observe again.

Even with water, they may wilt in the heat of the day. Knowing your plant’s habits helps prevent over doing it.

#5 – Remember that recently planted shrubs, trees, and bedding plants do have more need for water than established specimens.

Once a plant has set down roots, it is better able to tolerate some drought, but until then it is important that you provide ample water to keep the roots moist and encourage solid rooting.

#6 – Automatic systems can be used indoors or outdoors. In your garden and around your yard, you can use soaker hoses or drip emitters set on a timer.

Avoid using sprinklers and other overhead systems because of their waste and make it more likely that your specimens will develop fungal disease.

#7 – You can make the most of deep outdoor proper watering by mulching heavily around your outdoor specimens.

Use rotted manure or compost to help improve soil drainage and prevent fast evaporation after watering.

Be sure to keep your mulch away from the stems of your specimens as contact can cause fungus to develop.

In this video, Dave of Growing Wisdom shares more information about recognizing and dealing with overwatering.

Plant Problems Can Usually Be Traced To Too Much Water For Plants

Many people feel very challenged by plant care, and it can seem as if all kinds of problems are plaguing your specimens.

Remember that, more often than not, the symptoms you are seeing are actually caused by overwatering.

Less is more, and most healthy flowers will be happier with you if you just give them a deep drink from time-to-time rather than frequent inundations.

I know I’m guilty!

You may be too, of over watering your marijuana plants.

I’ve watered my plants to much on several occasions.

But don’t worry, there are many ways to get out of this mess.

So let’s save your plant’s!

Fact: One of the most common problems when growing in soil is watering too frequently.

Over watering medical marijuana can happen to anyone especially if you are new to growing.

Even experienced growers have this happen to them from time to time, although some may not admit to it.

If you’re not careful it’s not good for the plants and it also becomes an excellent habitat for root aphids.

Watering your plants too much can lead to mold buildup and also result in a perfect place for fungus gnats to thrive.

Springtails are another pest that are attracted to damp grow mediums and thrive in an over watered environment.

Although they do not harm the plant , but they spread quickly.

They all love the damp top soil or growing medium and rock wool.

Try and use about an inch of sand on the bottom and top of your grow medium of soil or coco coir to prevent an infestation from a lot of root eaters.

Here’s a quick look at to what happens when you water your plants to much.

But seriously though it’s when you suffocate your plant’s roots with water because plants love oxygen.

If growing in soil or coco coir you can disturb the little air pockets in the soil or coco with too much water according to Colorado State University.

This can be the case when you grow with hydroponics you can encounter root rot from not allowing ample oxygen to hit the roots.

Signs of Over Watering

  • Leaves curl downwards
  • Leaf tips turn yellow
  • Leaves will fall off for no reason
  • Plant Leaves droop (hanging down)
  • Slow plant growth, stunted
  • Constant damp top soil or coco
  • May look like a magnesium deficiency
  • May seem like a nitrogen deficiency

Your leaves should have the texture of paper. Feel them are they firm? Not weak and limp.

How to Fix Over Watered Cannabis Plants

1

Stop watering and let the plant dry out. Not completely( this will damage your roots) but close to it.

2

Go longer in between watering

3

Stop watering so often (this is usually the cause).

4

Place a towel or newspapers or flyers under the pots drain holes to soak up excess water after all the runoff finishes.

5

May need to drill extra drainage holes in pots with soil if not getting proper runoff.

6

Make air holes in the top of soil or coco coir with chopsticks (beware you open the gates to gnats).

7

Increase the heat slightly in the grow area a degree or too.

8

Bring in an extra fan.

9

If growing in soil remove from current pot and place into a slightly bigger and or same size pot or fabric pot to aid in drying it out faster to save the plant.

10

When using Hydroponics have a better Air Pump or Air Stone.

Add one if you don’t have one yet. It’s essential !

Warning : It may be too late already.

Even if you try some of the solutions, it’s all up to the plant on if it wants to or can recover.

Some genetics are weak and are not strong enough to recover from watering too much. It’s when the plant has reached extreme stress.

I have seen both over watered, and under-watered plants recover. Until 4-7 days later just slowly start to die.

It’s mainly due to root rot.

Be positive! Usually, you will catch this before it’s a major problem.

That’s why you’re here.

Ways to Prevent Over Watering Marijuana

Soil or Coco Coir:

  1. When growing in soil make sure you have a high drainage soil such as Promix or Happy Frog.
  2. Add perlite if your soil doesn’t have it already or coco coir 1-4 ratio both are great for drainage.
  3. Do not saturate the soil when transplanting or planting.
  4. Try Smart Fabric Pots.
  5. Drill extra drainage hole in the bottom of pots.
  6. Use a Water Meter or Moisture Meter in soil or coco if needed.
  7. Use the finger method by sticking your finger in the soil about an inch to see if dry.
  8. Avoid vermiculite it helps to retain water.
  9. One trick for soil so you do not over water is to take an empty pot and fill it with soil and use that one as a test. Check when to water by judging by the weight of your plant compare to the pot of soil.

Check out the video below on over watering a cannabis plant,

Hydroponic overwatering

It is possible to over water your marijuan plants in a hydroponic grow.

Hydroponic overwatering occurs when your growing your plants with the roots emerged in water and they are not getting enough oxygen to the roots.

This is happens when you have root rot.

Check the colors of the roots should not be tan, yellow or brown .

The roots should be white or cream in color.

Check for light leaks, and temperature of your water. Use a beneficial root bacteria, like hydroguard.

Also another reason is that they are not getting oxygen is that you may not be using extra air stones or a strong enough air pump.

Over watering during flowering

When growing in soil or coco it is possible to over water your cannabis plants during flowering.

In flowering they will start to not drink as much water as when in the vegetative stage.

All the common signs will start to appear like:

Drooping leaves ( clawing downward) , your leaves are starting to droop after you water you plants a couple hours late.

Plants not Praying, the leaves are not perking upward.( in a praying position)

Solutions:

  • Cut back on watering
  • Get on a consistent schedule to water
  • Check the top of the grow medium ( should be a little dry)

Under Watering marijuana

Your plant is drooping and it may look the same as an overwatered cannabis plant. Beware because if your growing medium is on the dryer side it is a sign of underwatering.

Over watered plants leaves are much more fuller look and feel than and under watered plant.

It can be hard sometimes to tell if your marijuan plants are underwatered, here are some things to look out for.

Signs of underwatered cannabis

  • Drooping leaves
  • Leaves are thin
  • Leaves are yellowing
  • Tips of leaf look burnt
  • Leaves are clawing under
  • Looks like a nutrient deficiency

Fix your Under Watered plants

It’s pretty simple just give ample enough of water and make sure your getting at least 10-15 percent runoff in soil or coco.

In coco you can water everyday, it’s usually recommended.

In soil wait at least 2-3 days between watering. Test by using you finger up to the first inch should be dry before the next watering.

Final Thoughts

Over watering when your growing cannabis can happen more often than you think.

Some good rules to follow are:

Hydroponic growing, just keep a good air stone or air pump at all times !​

Have proper ventilation to help the plants breath and release their moisture build up.

Use a calendar for your water and nutrient feeding days; you may have to adjust as you go.

A good rule of thumb is to always check if your plants need water and not just assume they do.

Over watering your medical marijuana plants happens the most in soil.

When you grow in Coco Coir hydroponically or running a hydroponic system it’s hard to water to much but is known to occur on occasion.

Remember there is nothing wrong growing in soil. Many growers prefer this method for the flavor and watering less often.

Where with hydroponics you run one to two times a day with a watering schedule.

Hopefully, this helps you get over this issue, and you save your plants.

Let me know in the comments what works for you or if you have any better solutions.

Keep Growing my friends.

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How to tell if a cannabis plant needs watering

Leafly StaffOctober 7, 2016 Share Print

Updated 03/25/19

Giving a plant the proper amount of water may be more difficult than you think.

There isn’t an exact science for watering a cannabis plant—you can’t observe the roots (in most cases) and don’t have a way of knowing exactly what’s happening in the soil. Also, a plant is constantly growing and the climate it’s in may fluctuate, so the amount of water it needs will constantly change.

Despite this, here are some tried-and-true tips and strategies to help keep your plants healthy and properly hydrated.

How often should you water cannabis plants?

When you think your cannabis plants might be thirsty, take time to observe:

  • Do the leaves look dark green or are they yellowing?
  • Are they vibrant, rigid and strong?
  • How does the soil feel?

A common mistake first-time growers make is to overwater a plant. A healthy cycle of wet and dry is necessary for the roots of a plant to grow out and reach deeper into the pot.

To see if a plant needs watering, stick a finger down a couple inches into the soil. If it’s dry, it’s time to water.

You can also pick up a pot and feel the weight of it to determine if it needs water. This will take some experience—be sure to lift up your pots after watering to get a feel for how heavy they are when full of water. This will give you a sense of what a light, or dry, plant feels like.

An underwatered plant looks droopy and weak, with yellow or brown leaves. There is no strength in the leaves and they feel lifeless. But an overwatered plant look similar, except that the leaves are dark green and the leaf tips will curl as if they are hiding from the water in their pot.

Obviously you don’t want your plants to ever be in either condition, but as you figure out your cannabis watering schedule, keep in mind that it’s better to underwater plants rather than overwater them.

Roots pull in oxygen as soil dries and when soil is too wet, the plant essentially can’t breathe.

Pay attention to timing and note the intervals at which you water your plants, and even write it down in a log. But keep in mind that as plants get bigger, they will need more water and need to be watered more frequently.

How much should you water cannabis plants?

The amount of water your plants need will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Size
  • Outside temperature
  • Overall health
  • Stage of growth

You want to soak the pot and have run off through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Water should pool up on the surface of the soil while you’re watering, but it shouldn’t sit on the surface after you move on to the next plant.

If a plant is very dry, water will run straight through the pot and quickly come out the drainage holes. If this happens, water the plant a little bit and come back to it after 10 minutes or so and water it again, and maybe even a third time. This will allow the soil to slowly absorb water incrementally, until all of the soil is thoroughly wet.

Take notes, make calculations, and get your plants on a watering schedule. Setting a cycle where the plant needs to be watered every two to three days is ideal.

As the plants grow, so will their need for water. You might need to top-off individual plants in between their full waterings as they grow and you figure out a consistent watering schedule.

The sooner you find the sweet spot between too wet and too dry, the sooner you’ll see your garden flourish.

Is your container the right size?

To properly hydrate a cannabis plant, it needs to be in the correct container size. If the pot is too big, the plant can’t drink water where its roots don’t reach. If the roots aren’t absorbing water, water will sit and take a long time to evaporate, which can promote unwanted insects, fungus, and root rot.

Conversely, if a container is too small, the roots won’t be able to stretch out, which will ultimately stunt the growth of the entire plant. You will also need to water the plant all the time, which will add to your labor.

Ideally, plants should start in a small pot and progress to bigger and bigger pots as it outgrows each container. For example, you can start a clone or seedling in a 4″- or 1-gallon pot, then move on to a 2-gallon, 5-gallon, 10-gallon, and so on.

Plants are ready to transplant when a healthy root structure encompasses most of the soil, but the roots aren’t bound. Transplanting is a good opportunity to see the quality of your roots: bright white roots, with a strong thick structure is a sign you have been watering your plants correctly.

Materials for a well-hydrated cannabis garden

These materials will help optimize your plants and make the watering process easier and more efficient.

Perlite

Perlite comes from obsidian, which is a volcanic glass. It is produced when obsidian is heated to a high temperature and then expands. It’s light, porous, and organic, making it a great addition for your soil, as it prevents soil from clumping and promotes oxygen flow.

Smart pots

These pots are made with canvas, and the fabric helps roots breathe, allows heat to escape, and lets water drain. All of these traits will improve the quality of your plant roots and how they handle being watered.

Drip lines

Drip irrigation lines allow you to water plants consistently and distribute water evenly across the pot. They also prevent your pots from flooding on the surface when getting watered, which will cause perlite to come to the surface where it is useless. Drip systems also help prevent evaporation when you’re gardening in a hot climate.

Timers

It’s crucial that you measure how much water you are giving your plants. If you have an irrigation system, figure out the flow rate and set a timer so you can gauge when it’s time to move on to the next pot, ensuring every pot is receiving the same amount of water.

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Everyone knows it’s important to keep thirsty garden plants sufficiently watered, especially during the hottest summer months. But how do you know when you’ve watered too much, or too often? If plants are wilting, does that mean more water is needed? Why is overwatering bad, and what damage can happen when plants receive too much water?

Rest assured: in this GrangeKnows article, we’ve provided answers to these and many more overwatering questions. Read more to save your garden plants and your water bill.

Recognizing and preventing overwatering of your plants is essential to the productivity and overall health of your garden. Over-watering essentially smothers the roots and cuts off the plant’s life-sustaining oxygen supply.

WHAT IS OVER-WATERING?

Over-watering isn’t just a result of an overabundance of water at a given time; it can also result from applying water too often. In the latter case, if the soil is dense or compacted, the surface of the soil and root systems may have too much water, while the lower roots remain dry. Soil and plant roots require time to absorb water applied, so it is important to be aware of your soil type as you plant and set up a routine for maintenance and watering. The success of garden plants and landscaping depends largely on the garden receiving an adequate amount of water without the waste of over-applying water.

Learn More:

For more on soil, click here.
For drought season garden tips, click here.

WHY IS OVER-WATERING BAD FOR YOUR PLANTS?

Plants need oxygen as much as they need water; and when you overwater, especially in compacted or clay soils, the soil becomes waterlogged. In waterlogged soil, water totally fills the pore spaces around soil particles which should have an equal amount of oxygen. In this situation, roots and root hairs responsible for the plant’s growth cannot absorb the oxygen they need and can die. The more water there is, the longer the roots are deprived of air and the more root damage may occur. When these roots die or are damaged, they cannot supply plants with essential nutrients and water, growth is stunted, leaves wilt and turn yellow from leaf scorch or leaf burn, buds fail to open, and plants can die.

Watering too frequently is a different kind of overwatering. In this scenario, frequent shallow watering will encourage roots to remain near the soil surface where they are subject to heat and rapid drying out. Hardy, weather and disease-resistant plants are promoted by watering slowly enough to permit moisture to penetrate a minimum of 12” for vegetable gardens and flower beds, and 12-18” for shrubs and trees. With moisture accumulating to these depths, the roots will follow the water, and be protected from overly rapid drying or winter freezes. With each lawn irrigation, we would hope for moisture to penetrate a minimum of 6”.

Edema is another result from overwatering. Edema occurs when a plant’s roots absorb water faster than the plant can use it and its internal cells experience water pressure. This often occurs after a routine of watering in the evening, or just before a significant drop in temperature. These cells can burst and die, then form plant “blisters.” Eventually the blisters erupt and ugly growths form in their place.

When you overwater your plants, you are also putting them at risk of fungal pathogens which can lead to root rot and other issues. The plant’s colors dull and turn yellow, then become soft and break easily. As the roots decay from rot, the plant will eventually die.

DOES WILTING MEAN UNDERWATERING OR OVERWATERING?

Yes and yes. That’s right, a symptom of both underwatering and overwatering is wilting with curled leaves that are discolored and drop off. But the difference lies in the crispness or limpness of the leaves. When you underwater, leaves will become wilted, brittle or crunchy, and dry. Overwatering, on the other hand, causes wilted leaves that are limp.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’VE WATERED TOO MUCH?

The most obvious sign of overwatering is wilting. As stated above, leaves will turn yellow and wilted – not crisp and green. Wilting can also occur throughout the plant, including the stem, buds and flowers. You will also notice the plant growing especially slow.

Another indicator of overwatering is the soil in the plant’s root zone. If the soil smells sour or rotten, it generally means it has gone too long without oxygen.

AVOID OVERWATERING

Providing the right amount of water is not only good for your plants, but good for the environment, your water bill, and your time. Here are tips to ensure a successful garden by providing enough water for your plants to thrive, but not so much that it drowns the roots, harms the plants, and wastes water.

  1. Pick the right plants. While you want to be able to grow whatever you desire, choosing plants that are appropriate for your soil and space can help you avoid overwatering. For soils that drain poorly, use plants that prefer, or can tolerate, constantly moist soils.
  2. Location is everything. Place plants with similar watering needs together. A good plan is to create three zones with heavy “drinkers” all together, then those that survive with 7-10 days between watering together, and finally all of the real dry-loving plants together.
  3. Mulching. Adding mulch to your garden bed prevents evaporation of water from the soil. Plants are healthier when they don’t dry excessively between irrigating. Mulching also reduces weather-induced stress to garden plants by maintaining an even soil temperature — cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Mulching also improves drainage in heavy clay soils. Gardner & Bloome’s Soil Building Compost or Rogue Natural and Organic Planting Compost are great products for use in the soil or as a top mulch. Click here for more on mulching.
  4. Water deeper, longer, and less frequently. When you water for a longer period of time but not as often, you are providing water deeper into the soil. This encourages roots to grow deeper where it’s moist, cool and they are able to mine soil for beneficial nutrients.
  5. Water conservation irrigating. Using a drip line system or soaker hose on a water timer ensures water gets directly to the individual plant, and also helps you to water deeper, longer and less frequently. You have control over when and how long you water, so there’s no more forgetting the hose or sprinkler on for too long. Click here for Grange Co-op watering system products.
  6. Resist the temptation to water at the first sign of wilt. During the hot summer months, most plants will naturally wilt during the hottest time of day and then recover later in the day. Tomato plants, in particular, naturally wilt during midday as the fruit is taking up the moisture. With sufficient mulching, tomato plants are perfectly fine to go five days between waterings, as long as it is a deep, thorough watering.
  7. Don’t mistake dry top soil for a dry plant. Generally, the top surface dries out first but this doesn’t necessarily mean it is dry further into the soil near the plant root. Gently dig down a few inches to feel for moisture.

HOW CAN YOU SAVE PLANTS THAT HAVE BEEN OVERWATERED

If you’ve overwatered your plant and see the signs of stress, the following tips can help correct the damage already done.

  • Shade your plant from direct sunlight by setting a shade cloth canopy over the affected plants
  • Do not fertilize the plant while it’s recovering from root damage
  • Remove the plant, if possible, from the soil or pot and place it on newspaper or cloth to wick the water down through the root ball. You can also aid the plant by cutting off any soft, rotten, damaged or dead roots. When replanting, make sure to gently spread the roots out over the soil.
  • If it is an established plant in the ground, sometimes a light pruning can help lighten the strain on the root system, thereby allowing it to recover the root damage from overwatering.
  • For root rot, products such as Super Thrive or Actinovate can help treat fungal or bacterial infections.

For more gardening tips, speak with a Grange Gardening Expert for additional advice on your exact needs.

Whether you are a new vegetable gardener or a seasoned pro, we are all bound to make mistakes in the vegetable garden. I know I have made (and still make) my fair share of follies.

Growing vegetables is not that difficult overall, but there are some techniques that are an art that takes some practice, a little elbow grease and sometimes a bit of good fortune.

Picasso did not paint a masterpiece his first time at the canvas, did he?

Probably not.

If you are new to vegetable gardening it is easy to become frustrated when something goes wrong, especially if you aren’t sure what or how it went wrong.

Many times it all comes down to something that could have been prevented with a little planning.

Here are some common mistakes that are typically made in the vegetable garden and how you can avoid them.

Starting Out Too Big

One of the most practical pieces of advice I can give new vegetable gardeners is to start out with a small garden.

Many new gardeners will attempt to take on more than they can handle when starting their first garden.

It’s easy to become very excited about having your own vegetable garden and not be realistic about the time and effort it takes to properly maintain a vegetable garden.

It is much better to have a small, healthy garden than it is to have a large vegetable garden with wilting or dying plants.

Take into consideration how much time you have to devote to your vegetable garden and plan accordingly.

Not Properly Preparing the Garden Soil

A typical mistake for new gardeners is to not give any attention to the garden soil. The garden soil is what feeds your vegetable plants, so you must have healthy soil in order to have healthy plants. The soil where you plan to locate your new vegetable garden should be thoroughly tested before planting that first vegetable.

First, remove the grass, rocks and other debris from the proposed garden space. Dig out a few spots of the soil and scoop some out into your hand.

Give the soil a good squeeze.

If it clumps up easily, seems gummy, and is hard to break apart you may have a high concentration of clay.

Clay soils can lead to poor air and water circulation. If the soil breaks apart too easily and seems grainy, you may have a sandy soil.

High levels of sand can cause water to drain too quickly leading to dried out plants. Typically sandy soils lack many of the nutrients for healthy vegetable plants.

Both of these situations can be remedied by adding copious amounts of organic materials such as compost.

Sandy soils require a higher level of organic matter due to the lack of nutrients, while clay soils need a clay-to-organic matter ratio of about 1:1.

Adding organic matter adds nutrients, improves soil texture, improves drainage, and adds beneficial microorganisms. A soil test should be performed on the garden soil by your local extension office.

This test will tell you the existing nutrient and pH levels of your soil so you will know exactly what needs to be corrected. This is a very important step for growing a healthy and productive vegetable garden.

Planting In Shady Areas

The location of your vegetable garden is imperative for good production. Before planting your vegetable garden make sure it receives at least six hours of full sunlight a day.

Planting a vegetable garden in an area that receives less than this can mean lower crop yields and stunted plant growth.

Track the sunlight in the proposed vegetable garden spot throughout the day for about a week.

This will give you a great idea of how well the area receives sunlight throughout the day. If you monitor sunlight in the early spring, make sure to watch for possible shady areas from nearby trees that have not fully leafed out.

The area may receive good sunlight when the trees are bare, but when they fully develop leaves you could find your vegetable garden in the shade come summer.

If you don’t have the time to check the sunlight in your yard, a Sunlight Calculator will help you monitor sunlight levels.

Over Fertilizing

A very common mistake many vegetable gardeners make is to over fertilize their plants. It can become easy to think that adding extra fertilizer will benefit the plants, but actually the opposite is true.

Plants require a balanced diet of nutrients. When plants are over fertilized they can actually become over-feed leading to sick or dead plants. Plants can only intake so much nutrients before they become overdosed.

The best remedy is to follow the fertilizer instructions carefully. It is best to use organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion, seaweed fertilizer, or compost.

Organic, natural fertilizers add sufficient nutrients, supply beneficial microorganisms and will not burn plants.

Over Watering

Many first time vegetable gardeners, eager for a wonderfully productive garden, tend to over water their vegetable plants which can frequently lead to root rot and other problems.

Generally, vegetable plants require about an inch of water a week depending on rainfall amounts. Over watering can also promote diseases such as blights and powdery mildew.

To test soil moisture, simply stick your finger about two knuckles deep into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s a good idea to go ahead and give the plants a drink. If it feels moist, wait a day or so and check it again.

It is best to avoid watering vegetable plants from above. It is easier to water plants from above with a hose nozzle, but try to water plants at soil level. This will ensure water goes directly to the roots and reduces water waste.

Just allow a steady trickle of water to be absorbed into the soil. Don’t use a heavy stream as this can cause some soil erosion and could expose roots.

Keeping a consistent watering schedule is also important for disease resistance and good root development. Watering deeply and less often, instead of shallow and frequently, encourages deep root growth.

Avoid These Common Mistakes For A Successful Vegetable Garden

Avoiding these common mistakes can help a heap towards growing a very productive and fun vegetable garden. What are some common mistakes that vegetable gardeners make when starting out? Please share!

How much water do you really need? When is the best time to water your vegetables? See our tips on watering your garden—plus, a chart of when and how much to water specific crops.

According to some experts, less is often more when it comes to watering your vegetable crops. In areas without drought, a common mistake new gardeners make is watering too much!

Start With Good Soil

Healthy soil is the basis of healthy plants. You can’t just dig up dirt and put in plants. If you add a little mulch or compost, you are well on your way to making rich, well-balanced soil.

Regular applications of modest amounts of compost—one-quarter inch per season—will dramatically improve your soil’s water retention and help suppress disease. See our articles on soil types, soil testing, and the basics on amending your soil with NPK fertiliers and organic amendments,

When to Water

Don’t just water without thinking. Feel your soil! When the soil sticks in your hand and you can form it into a ball, it is moist enough. But, if it barely holds together in the palm of your hand, or if the surface looks hard, baked, or cracked, it is probably dry and it’s time to water.

It’s best to water early in the day so the foliage dries off by evening. When the plants are watered at night, the foliage stays wet for a long period of time and disease problems build up.

Believe it or not, sometimes the best time to water is during or immediately after a rainfall, especially if the rain shower amounts only to a half-inch or so of water. The reason for this is that you want to add sufficient water at the same time to ensure penetration down to 5 or 6 inches. If you wait another day or two to water, you will be adding only surface water, which evaporates rapidly. With only frequent, light watering (or rain showers), you never build up a reserve of water in the soil.

Lose Your Guilt About Wilt

Another sign is that the plants may wilt and look especially droopy. However, temporary wilting during the heat of midday does not mean that it’s time to water. Some plants go through an obvious midday slump, especially on very hot days, which is an indication of the plant’s natural adaptation to its environment. Visit your garden again in the early evening and see if the wilted plants have regained some turgidity. If they have come back—that is, if they look perkier—do not water.

Watering Guide: Critical Times to Water and Gallons Needed

To address the big watering question, below is a chart that tells you critical times to water each vegetable crop as well as the number of gallons of water needed.

This watering guide assumes summer vegetables and good, moderately-rich soil. Water less often in cool spring or fall months. Water more often in hotter, dryer periods.

Needs a lot of water during dry spells. Needs water at critical stages of development. Does not need frequent watering.
Vegetable Critical time(s) to water for a 5-foot row Number of gallons of water needed
Beans When flowers form and during pod development 2 per week depending on rainfall
Beets Before soil gets bone-dry 1 at early stage; 2 every 2 weeks
Broccoli Don’t let dry 4 weeks after transplanting. Head development. 1 to 1 ½ per week
Brussels sprouts Don’t let soil dry out for 4 weeks after transplanting. 1 to 1 ½ per week
Cabbage Head development. Water frequently in dry weather. 2 per week
Carrots Early root enlargement. Before soil gets bone-dry 1 at early stage; 2 every 2 weeks as roots mature
Cauliflower Head development. Water frequently for best crop. 2 per week
Celery Water frequently for best crop. 2 per week
Corn When tassels form and when cobs swell 2 at important stages (left)
Cucumbers Flowering and fruit development. Water frequently. 1 per week
Lettuce/Spinach Water frequently for best crop. 2 per week
Onions In dry weather, water in early stage to get plants going. ½ to 1 per week if soil is very dry
Parsnips Before soil gets bone-dry 1 per week in early stages
Peas When flowers form and during pod-forming and picking 2 per week
Peppers Steady supply from flowering through harvest 2 per week
Potatoes Tuber set and enlargement when the size of marbles 2 per week
Radishes Plentiful, consistent moisture for root enlargement 2 per week
Squash Water frequently for best crop. 1 per week
Tomatoes For 3 to 4 weeks after transplanting and when flowers and fruit form 1 gallon twice a week or more

How to Measure Your Water

Another way to figure out how much water it follow a general rule of thumb of one inch of water per week.

To measure overhead sprinkling, place 4 or 5 small containers (straight-sided) around the garden while the water is being applied. When 1 inch collects in the containers, that indicates that 1 inch of water was applied to the garden. Gardeners can recording the time needed to fill the container for timing future waterings.

How to Water

What you want in a healthy plant is deep root penetration, and the only way that you’re going to get deep roots is if there is water down deep.

Start at the very beginning: Saturate each plant hole when you transplant seedlings. When you do water, make sure that you get the soil saturated enough that the moisture percolates several inches down.

The disadvantage of using a sprinkler is that foliage is wetted by water dispersed via overhead application. This could lead to foliar diseases since the foliage remains wet for extended periods of time. An alternative is to lay the hoses directly on the ground near the plant so the water goes where it is needed. A board or rock placed under the water flow will prevent the water from eroding the soil. A good way to direct the water to the plants is to dig a little trench around the plants and allow water to flow into it.

Drip or trickle irrigation is also successful in the home garden. This is done mainly with hoses or plastic tubes with small holes in them that deliver a relatively small amount of water directly to the root zone; by supplying optimum moisture, periods of water stress can be avoided. The hoses or tubes are placed down the rows and water slowly trickles out. Regardless of method chosen, be sure to apply sufficient moisture.

Don’t Forget to Mulch!

Mulching is perhaps the #1 water-conserving technique for areas that receive less than 40 inches of rainfall annually. Organic mulches reduce evaporative moisture losses from the soil surface, and because the soil stays cooler, they also reduce transpiration water losses. Lay a thick layer of mulch down on top of soil. (Do not mix with soil.) Renew mulches that are in place for the entire growing season.

See our Mulching Guide for more information.

In Conclusion…

Don’t baby your crops; plants are incredibly adaptable. They have the ability to draw water from deep in the soil. Periodically, take a trowel and dig down several inches into the zone where the roots are most active. If the soil there is still moist, there would be no benefit from watering.

For more on watering the garden, especially in drought, read our article on “The Water-Wise Garden.”

See our video in which we will demonstrate the 10 smart watering tips for a healthier garden.

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