It seems simple enough. Put plant in ground. Water plant when it’s thirsty. Watch plant, and your smiles, grow wider and taller. Hooray for plant!
When it comes to when and how much to water, however, what would seem like an elementary exercise inevitably turns out to be more involved. But don’t fret. You got this; we know it! A good place to start is to water thoroughly when the soil is completely dry to the touch, and not just at the surface but down by the roots.
Procure a water meter or in lieu of that “fancy technology,” stick a bamboo stick or pencil into the ground. Then pull it out. If soil adheres to the stick (yes, just like baking a cake), the soil is wet enough.
Now back to that rule of thumb, because a friend or neighbor or online acquaintance will inevitably swear by a different schedule. The frequency of watering (or infrequency, as it were) is awash in considerations, such as:
- in the ground or container
- pot size
- soil mix
- recent rain
- slope or flat grade, or something in between
- organic mulch or inorganic mulch, or no mulch at all
- proximity to hardscape or inorganic elements such as boulders or water fountains.
Not to mention the plant varieties themselves. Like us humans, they don’t share a uniform metabolism rate. Their native habitats don’t all receive the same amount of precipitation or experience an equivalent temperature range.
Indoor varieties, insulated from the trying effects of direct sun and high temps, can go longer between waterings than their potted outdoor counterparts. Even if it’s been two weeks or more, indoor plants may be perfectly content and not in immediate need of water. Again, take a good look at the leaves. If they are firm and plump to the touch, chances are you can wait.
So, how are you doing? By digging deeper, this whole watering thing may now seem to resemble something complicated rather than simple. Like springing open a can of worms, and we’d rather those worms stay under the soil. As noted earlier, becoming a skilled plant steward starts with being a good observer. With experience, you’ll be able to confidently incorporate all those various factors into a successful plant care plan, with nary a bead of sweat.
You will learn a lot about your succulents and what they want by closely observing them and their responses to weather and watering.
- Firm, plump leaves indicate a happy plant.
- Squishy, mushy leaves likely mean it has received too much water. Discoloration might even be noticeable, such as black spots on the leaves or stem. In those cases, something may definitely be rotten in the garden.
- Shriveled, wrinkled leaves tell you it’s time to fill up the watering can. However, if it’s only the bottom (older) leaves that are thin and shriveled, and the rest look good, then that is completely, totally normal.
- Whereas succulents rotting from too much H2O may not be salvageable, parched plants should perk back up after one or two good drinks.
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