We all love drought-resistant plants that simply go limp when dehydrated and then spruce right up when given water. Not only do they physically tell us they need water, but there doesn’t seem to be any consequences for waiting until the last minute either.
Unfortunately, not all plants are so obvious about needing water, and water does play a significant role in the health of plants. Under and overwatering plants can create weak roots, cause foliage to change to undesirable colors and blooms to drop, or prevent blooming altogether.
How do we know when to water before it’s too late?
Though different Southern Living® Plant Collection varieties have different needs, time of day, temperature, soil, and age are major factors in determining when and how often your plants need water.
The best time to water plants is in the morning or evening.
Watering in the morning prepares the plant for the day to come and watering in the evening cools it off. More importantly, watering at these times actually helps the plant retain water. If you water in the afternoon, especially during summer, the heat and sun are at their peak and the plant’s water will evaporate instead of absorbing into the soil and roots. Morning watering is actually preferable to evening watering as the plant has time to dry before the sun goes down. At night, water tends to rest in the soil, around the roots, and on the foliage, which encourages rot, fungal growth, and insects.
Heat and dry soil are always indicators that a plant needs more water
When the sun is out and the temperature is high, your plants are baking right along with you. Nothing is better than some refreshing water and your plants couldn’t agree more. If the soil is dry, the plant is already dehydrated and you need to water more often to ensure healthy growth. Ideally, the soil should be moist and well-drained.
A plant’s age also helps you know when to water
“Age” refers to the length of the plant’s life and also to the length of time the plant has maintained residence in your yard. The young and the newly planted need more water to establish a healthy root system. Shallow and fragile roots require additional water to promote root strength and expansion. Mature plants don’t need water as often; instead, they need a larger amount at one time so that the established roots can thrive deep in the ground.
When there are so many plant varieties, it can be difficult knowing when to water, but watch for the tell-tale signs. If you see a general decline in the health of your plant, if the leaves are yellowing or browning, the flowers aren’t blooming, or the petals are dropping, the plant could be getting too little or too much water. Most of all, remember to reserve a little extra time in the morning for premium watering – your day may be that much healthier too!