In the balcony as in the garden, watering plants is a crucial gesture that guarantees their good development, their beauty or simply their survival when the heat wave sets in. Potted plants suffer more easily from lack of water than plants in the ground, because their roots have a reduced volume of soil. Potted flowers and vegetables can withstand some water stress in the summer, but it is at the expense of blooms, production and flavor. After a few days of dryness, the soil shrinks and rehydrates with difficulty. When it comes to watering, prevention is better than cure!
When to water potted plants?
The frequency of watering depends on the season (we obviously water more in summer than in winter), on the weather, but also on the size of the pot and especially on the plant to be watered. Not all plants have the same needs, so watering must be adapted to them. Some plants require a constantly fresh substrate or else the leaves will look leaden and sag. Others, such as Mediterranean plants and most aromatics, do not tolerate excess water and appreciate a good drainage of the soil. We wait for the soil to dry a little on the surface between two waterings.
Watering at planting
Be sure to immerse the bucket or pot in a basin of water to hydrate the root ball. Not a single air bubble should rise to the surface. In the same way, if you sowed in pot, the seeds must profit from a fresh substrate maintained wet all the time of germination.
Finish the plantation with a copious watering. Limit subsequent watering by mulching the surface of the substrate with an organic mulch (flax chaff, cocoa shells, bark…) or mineral mulch (gravel, pebbles, pieces of slate…).
Jardiland’s tip: to limit the watering of plants with high water needs, choose a potting soil containing water retaining agents or add water pearls to the plantation which have the capacity to absorb water and to release it progressively.
Watering after planting
Throughout the summer months (May through the end of August), the main activity of potted gardening is watering. Water your potted plants several times a week. Flowers such as petunias or containers such as hanging baskets that are highly exposed to the wind even need to be watered daily. Signs that it’s time to water: the pot is getting lighter, the potting soil is taking on a lighter color and coming off the sides of the pot, the leaves are hanging down, the finger stuck in the potting soil is staying dry for longer than a fingertip… Water preferably in the evening when it’s cool to limit water evaporation.
When temperatures drop at the end of summer, reduce the frequency of watering, especially if your pots benefit from rainfall. In winter, one to two waterings per month for pots protected from rain are sufficient. Potted plants should be watered preferably in the morning to limit excess humidity from watering late in the day or evening.
In early spring, resume a greater rate of watering to support the recovery of vegetation.
How to water pot plants properly?
As when gardening in the open ground, it is better to water thoroughly from time to time than superficially and often. Indeed, the roots of the plants will thus develop in depth and will be less sensitive to the temporary lack of water.
The right thing to do: water in two stages. Do a first round of the pots to moisten the soil and then a second round, a few minutes later, which will hydrate deeply. Water gently to avoid overflowing, which leaches minerals and forces you to add more fertilizer to compensate.
To refresh the atmosphere, water the soil on the balcony or terrace. Similarly, many plants appreciate a shower (a “basking”) of their foliage after a very dry day.
tips: if you have missed several waterings, the root ball has shrunk and the water is running directly through the drainage holes, place the pot in a bucket of water for a good hour. The water will gradually soak the entire root ball (this is called capillary watering). Take the pot out and let the excess water drain off before replacing it in the pot holder or on the saucer.
Finally, to avoid the chore of watering potted plants or if you are going on vacation, consider an absence watering system or an autonomous watering kit. Thanks to drippers connected by fine pipes to a faucet, water is brought drop by drop, without waste, directly to the roots of the plants. It is even possible to program the time, frequency and duration of watering. A balcony with no water supply can benefit from this system thanks to a pump immersed in a water reserve. Perfect, effortless watering is yours!