Author: Jaana Pearson Paavola
Disclaimer
This blog serves as a general guideline for watering new plants. Be sure to ask our Horticultural Specialists in store about your specific area where you are planting, as many different environmental factors can change the watering requirements. Location, species of plant, and weather conditions can all affect watering needs. Our staff can easily help establish a good watering regime for you.

Introduction

The first year or two after planting your new addition to the garden, some extra care and attention will have to be paid to the watering. With some proper care and attention during this period, it will allow the roots to establish in the new spot, and the plants will become much more self-sustaining afterwards. This blog will offer some general guidelines for proper watering amounts, and techniques that will set up the plants for future success.


General Rule of thumb(s)

Trees:

  • For every inch of inch of caliper, its 10 gallons of water per week. This is the general guideline for wire basket or burlap trees
  • In potted trees, the size of the pot is the number of gallons the tree should receive each week. For example, a tree in a 5-gallon pot should get 5 gallons of water per week.

Minuet LilacPerennials:

  • Whatever the size of the pot is, half the number and that will be the amount of water needed. For example, a 2-gallon pot will need 1 gallon of water per week.

Shrubs:

  • Whatever the size of the pot, is equal to the number of gallons of water the shrub should receive each week. For example, a 5-gallon pot should receive 5 gallons of water per week.

Techniques

Watering infrequently, but deeply is the best way to promote deep root growth. Shallow and infrequent watering encourages roots to grow near to the surface, which makes them much more susceptible to drought in the long run. By watering deeply and infrequently, you force roots to grow downward in search of water, which allows them to draw water from deeper sources in times of severe drought. This means that you will water much less in the future, with proper care and due diligence in the first two years of establishment. Typically a once a week watering that you deliver all the required water slowly in one event is the ideal way to water plants.

A great product to use for trees is the gator bags that we carry at the nursery. Filling them up once a week allows you deliver all the water your tree will need for the week in one application. The bags have a 20-gallon capacity, which is delivered over 10 hours. We have two styles of bags, one at $39.99, and the other at $44.99.
Using a soaker hose is a great way to deliver water slowly to your perennials and shrubs, and can be found at most hardware stores.
Monitoring weather is also key, as the rain can do much of your work for you. As a general rule, 3 inches of rain is 20 gallons of water for the square foot of the root ball.


Overwatering versus underwatering

The signs of overwatering and underwatering are rather similar, as in both cases the plants will appear to wilt. However, it is already better to air on the side of dry. It is much easier to add more water, but it is a lot harder to remove water once it has been added. Overwatering will promote root rot, and the plant will slowly decline. Underwatering will cause the plants leaves to dry out, and once it is past the permanent wilting point it will not be able to bounce back. Most plants are resilient and will come back from being too dry and wilting, so as mentioned previously it is much better to be on the dry side of things, as you can always add more water.


Water Bags

If you find manually watering a challenge there are supplies that can help ensure your plants are getting the proper amount of water they need. There are various water bags available for your needs and for the type of plant.