Thoughts on Water Part 2
We receive more questions, and see more problems, in the nursery related to watering, than perhaps any other subject. In the 4/26/08 Blog I discussed water for landscape plants. This week I’ll address outdoor container plants. How do we water all the plants in the Nursery?
Embarrassingly it’s not just our customers who have problems. We do too. Sometimes we see over watering and sometimes under watering. It’s the hardest thing for us to train our new employees. First of all you need to know how much water individual or groups of plants perform best with. Classes of plants have differing water requirements. For example: our ferns will need water more often than our camellias. Hanging baskets and small containers need watering way more frequently than a 15-gallon tree. To further complicate matters, some growers use light fast draining potting mixes, while others use heavier water holding mixes. We could have the same Blue Salvia in the same size pot, from two different growers, and one will be dry, and one wet, even though they were last watered at the same time.
We train: “always water a dry plant, do not water a wet plant”. We teach to look for signs: drooping foliage, learn how heavy the container feels when it is wet, and how heavy when it is dry. Look at the bottom holes of nursery containers: are they moist or dry? Stick your finger in the pot: is the soil dry down two inches?
The next thing we have to train is how to water. We have to watch new people to make sure they are not blasting the soil out of the container. On flowers and small bedding plants etc. I like to use a water wand. The water-wand disperses the water and helps to not bruise the flowers. We train to water early in the day whenever possible so the plants “don’t go to bed wet”.
We train to “water the container, not the foliage “ We say: “water until it comes out the bottom of the container.”
I hope this look into our problems helps you with some of your watering questions. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify my thoughts; there will be more on this subject in the future.
Take care, D