man watering a plant in a garden

When to water, watering tips

Watering after planting

Don’t plant and forget! To understand why it is not a good idea to just plant and forget it helps to understand how the plant was functioning in its pot prior to planting out. Plants in pots in a nursery are watered once if not more frequently each day. They are growing in potting mix, which is well drained. When a plant is taken out of its pot and placed into a hole in the ground it takes time for the root system to extend into the new soil. While the plant remains reliant on its small root system that’s still encased in potting mix it is highly dependant on regular water. If the potting mix dries out the roots shrink back, making the mix difficult to re-wet even if the surrounding soil is moist.

Garden maintenance for a recently planted plant is not just giving it regular water but watering the area where the roots are. In all but extreme drought or heat wave situations, watering can be reduced once the roots enter the surrounding soil and are able to gain access to the surrounding soil moisture. Certain cultivation techniques can help plants survive with less regular watering after planting. Creating a shallow saucer or crater around the plant is one way of helping a plant survive. This shape captures water and allows it to soak slowly into the soil and into the potting mix. A thin layer of coarse mulch over the shallow crater keeps the roots cool but allows the rain and other water from hosing or irrigation to still reach the soil.

A low raised mound around the plant can also act as a moat, holding water that’s applied to the roots so that it can’t drain away. Until they have sent roots into the surrounding soil, new plantings will need more water than established plants nearby.


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