Potted plants growing in garden containers are at your mercy when it comes to getting the right amount of water. Unlike plants growing in the ground that can rely on deep roots to get them through dry spells, container grown plants have limited soil from which to drink. On the other hand, if container grown plants are left to sit too long in saucers full of water, the roots can die from lack of oxygen.
It comes down to this. If you want to be successful growing plants in garden containers, that is, if you want flowers to bloom well and your fruits, herbs & veggies to produce a bountiful harvest, you have to be an attentive & efficient waterer!
When asked " How often should I water my plants" there is no easy answer. It always involves several factors.
1. Consider Location: Planted pots under eaves or a dense tree may be deprived of rain. Stand next to your containers and look up, can you see the sky? Obviously pots on a covered porch must receive all their water from you because they are out of the rain. All containers placed in full sun need frequent watering plus consider if the surface they are on is concrete. If so they will dry out faster than a wood deck which tends to stay cooler. Pots near a light colored, south facing wall, which reflects light & heat will dry out faster than those farther away.
2. Climate & Weather: Climate is determined by where you live. If you live in Seattle where it is humid and has a lot of rain, watering isn't a constant chore. In drier, hotter areas like Phoenix, watering would be a daily even twice daily chore. Weather is what is happening RIGHT NOW! Pay attention. Hot winds on cloudless days can dry out a hanging pot in a matter of minutes.
3. Pot Type & Color: The porosity of containers influence how much water evaporates through it's sides. Terracotta is meant to breathe and is more porous than a poly resin or concrete planter. Lighter colors also reflect sunlight and dry out more slowly than darker colored ones, which absorb heat.
4. Soil Variations: Potting soils used in containers are formulated for good drainage, which means they dry out quickly. So read the bags when visiting your local nursery or check back on this blog for recommendations in future posts.
5. Root-boundedness: Plants grown in containers have roots that become more crowded as it grows. This requires more water. At this stage it is easy to over water plants. As plant roots continue to grow the organic matter in the pot mix breaks down, the containers more roots than soil. The plant is root bound and the root ball can be difficult to keep moist. The is the time to transfer to a larger planter.
Whether you have experienced any of the conditions listed above or something we may have missed, don't hesitate to comment here.