Container gardens are an easy way to add a splash of color to your home landscaping. To keep your plants heathy, water when the soil is dry. This will vary depending on the type of plant, potting mix, weather conditions, and the type of pot used.

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Watering Container Gardens

A lot of the problems we see with plants in containers is that they’re over watered or under watered. Typically, under watered plants exhibit the same symptoms as overwatered plants. So, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure that you’re watering your containers appropriately.

The soil surface always dries out first, so I like to use either my finger or a trowel, or a knife, or something to check the soil moisture a few inches deep. The other important thing is that when you do water, you want to make sure that it runs all the way through and out the bottom – so that the entire amount of soil in here is wet. That will allow for the roots to grow deeper into the pot – they’re reaching down for that moisture. You’ll have healthier plants and you won’t have to water as often.

You’ll always want to make sure that you buy a container that has a hole or holes in the bottom for drainage.

We have a watering container here, and I have a hose here. The important thing is that it has some sort of nozzle on the end like this that breaks up the stream of water as it comes out. So when you put this into the pot to water, that water stream is broken up, and it disperses evenly across the pot. If you’re watering with something like this container that has the nozzle removed, you’re going to get a really strong stream, and you can actually wash the soil out of the pot using something like this.

Notice how I’m watering the roots of the plant, and not the plants themselves. Wet leaves and foliage attract disease, and they’re more conducive for fungi to grow in. With any kind of plant, you shouldn’t just put it on a regular watering schedule. You shouldn’t just think that it needs water everyday, or every other day, or every week. You always need to check the soil moisture level with the plants themselves. Because different plant species use different amounts of water, and even the container material, sun exposure, can all dictate how much water that plant is going to need. If it’s close to a sidewalk or a building that’s reflecting heat – those plants will need more water, than a plant that’s sitting in a shady, protected location.

This feature story prepared with Jennifer Smith, former Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Douglas County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at

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