Watering is the bane of many home gardeners success, but it doesn't have to be! Here are 5 tips to help you from seedlings to full grown plants.
Tip 1 - Soft Rain
Water your plants as if they are getting a gentle, soft rain. You don't want too much force so that the soil moves around and disrupts seeds or small seedlings. You also don't want a lot of force to shock a teen plant. A steady drizzle is best. If you do not have a watering can that simulates this you can easily make one from any plastic jug (milk, water, soda, etc) with a screw on cap.
Tip 2 - Moist sponge
Most seedlings do not like to get bone dry. There are exceptions like succulents and cacti, but for the rest of them, they like to be moist. This means you don't want them to be too wet which may cause root rot and you do not want them to be too dry which is the equivalent of starvation. Plants will let you know with a little droop that they are getting too dry. You want your soil to be like a moist, mostly squeezed out sponge. Not runny like mud or dry like dust, but just wet enough where everything sticks together.
Tip 3 - Water and Wait
We see the results of our plants above the soil, but remember the feeding is down under at the roots. Roots stretch down and out and we want to make sure they are getting adequate watering throughout. To do this employ the water/wait method. This means provide some water into the container and wait a few moments and then water again. This allows the water to be absorbed at the top layers first. Once it has absorbed, water again, it will pass by the top layer and make it deeper to the roots. You'll want to repeat this water/wait cycle until you see drips of water from the bottom of your container. Once you see the drips, you can stop. Water is absorbed throughout the soil and you are good to go.
Tip 4 - Moist cake
Nobody likes a cake that looks delicious on sight, but then you bite into it and it is dry! This can happen with your plants too. The top appears moist, but underneath it is like the desert. This is an extension of tip 2 and 3. In tip 2 your plants are young. As they grow you may transplant them to larger containers and tip 3 applies. This tip ensures your seedling stays healthy.
Tip 5 - Dry Skin
Just like our skin, potting soil can develop a hard crust. This stops moisture from getting down to the roots where needed. This is why deep watering using Tip 3 is important. If a crust should form due to uneven watering, make sure to break the soil up. You can use your fingers or a fork or even a wooden dowel or stick making sure to be careful around possible roots. You can also add vermiculite to the top to prevent crusting. If you have plants indoors also make sure there is good air circulation. This can help prevent crusting as well.
Now that you have these tips for success, happy watering!!!