The importance of proper watering cannot be stressed enough for your container garden plants. Container Gardens are exposed to wind and sun so they dry out quicker than plants in the ground. There are no exact rules about watering your container garden plants. You have to become acquainted with the needs of various garden plants. The best tip is to examine them daily and water the plant when the surface of the soil begins to look dry. Feeling the soil will also help you determine the moisture needs of your container garden. Or, take the easy way and invest in a water meter if you are not sure.
How much and when to water will depend on the kind of plant and soil, the type and size of container, and the amount of exposure to sun and wind. Climate and the weather also play their part. During hot spells most plants in your container garden need daily water, except those in small clay pots, which may require it twice. Some plants, like fuchsias and tuberous begonias, wilt when dry, but geraniums and succulents are not so sensitive to neglect. On the other hand, it is good to let soil dry out a little between watering. This prevents the soil from depleting its nutrients.
Since unglazed containers dry out quickest, watch them more closely. Wooden tubs, window boxes, and planters dry out more slowly; metal is the slowest of all. Groups of plants in large containers keep moist longer than single specimens. A good technique to avoid excess dryness is to have groupings of plants, arranged close together. This allows the container plants to shade one another to keep cool and stop moisture evaporation.
There are several methods of watering the plants. If you have many containers in your container garden, depend on the hose, allowing water to flow through slowly and gently. Water small pots with a watering can that has a long spout or buy one of the self watering containers now available. When plants are grouped closely in a container garden, set up a sprinkler or hose with a fine spray nearby, allowing it to run for a long while, until the soil is soaked. In many states where the climate is dry, an automatic sprinkler system is a must to keep your whole garden hydrated. Remember this tip with geraniums and petunias, avoid sprinklers which spot blossoms.
One thing is certain; you must not depend on rain to keep your container garden plants hydrated. Even heavy showers deposit a surprisingly small amount of moisture, and unless rains are frequent and lengthy, you must do your own watering. Remember those window boxes and other containers near houses or under trees can stay dry in spite of an all-day downpour.
Though it is essential to give enough water to your container garden, it is equally important not to over water and so cause root rot. Over-watering also prevents aeration of the soil, and will cause the plant to drown.
One good method is to set your container garden, if the containers are not too large, in a basin or pail of water for several hours, or until the surface of the soil feels moist (this is the theory behind self watering containers). Or immerse the pot in a tub or large barrel of water and leave it there until air is eliminated and the bubbling stops.
The best general rule is to soak soil thoroughly when you water and then allow it to go just a bit dry before you water your container garden again. Best of all, keep a small spiral notebook and paste the care of each plant into it so that you will always have the needs of each individual plant at your fingertips.
If you go away for long periods during the summer, give the container garden serious thought before making it a project. On the other hand, you can enjoy both holidays and plants if you are absent for only short periods. The best safeguard is to entrust your container garden to a responsible friend. Or if you are going away for a vacation at your second home, or one that you have rented, take the container garden with you as a little bit of home.
Several techniques can be practiced. One is to arrange smaller containers in boxes of peat moss, sawdust, or soil, which has been well soaked. Then there is the pot-in-pot method, whereby small pots are set in larger ones, with moist peat moss inserted between.
As mentioned above, in many of the garden centers self watering containers are offered for sale. These are ideal for your container garden when you are traveling or taking a vacation.
Happy Container Gardening!
Copyright © 2006 Mary Hanna All Rights Reserved.
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Mary Hanna is an aspiring herbalist who lives in Central Florida. This allows her to grow gardens inside and outside year round. She has published other articles on Cruising, Gardening and Cooking. Visit her websites at http://www.GardeningHerb.com , http://www.CruiseTravelDirectory.com , and http://www.ContainerGardeningSecrets.com