The Proper way to water a potted plant

Discussion in 'Basic Growing' started by emilya, May 18, 2014.

  1. emilya

    emilya Future Dispensary Owner

    Over the last several years I have put a lot of study into this, and I feel that I can now define the proper way to water a potted plant.
    First rule is to always water slowly, using no more than a quart at a time, pausing to let the soil suck air in behind the water as it pools on the top. For me, that involves a routine of watering each of my plants with the 1 quart, then taking a nice relaxing drink of whatever beverage I have brought with me to the tent, then I take a nice big hit off of the pipe that also followed me in there, and then after a nice pause, I go back to plant #1 and repeat the cycle. For 2 rounds, I water the entire surface of the soil, watching it pool up and get sucked down.
    After this initial wetting of the top, my watering method changes. Now, I want to do whatever I can to make the outside edges of the pot the wettest areas. I now carefully water only there, all around the plant, only on the edges. While doing this, I slow down a bit so that the water doesn’t pool as much in the center, always concentrating on the edges. The center will end up getting some too, and that’s fine, but the wettest areas of the pot will be on the outside edges and you will be driving nutrient rich soil into the dense original root ball. Continue this, again going slow, and taking drinks and hits in between each round. Continue until you see the first signs of runoff, and then stop.

    Look carefully at the surface of your container now. You will clearly see where the root ball is from your last transplant, because it will now be sticking up just a little bit above the outer rim.

    Take ½ the amount of water you have been using, about a pint, and now water very slowly, just in the raised area where the original root ball is. As you do so, look what happens at the outer edge of the original root ball.
    soil with arrow (640).png
    You will see the very finest soil, almost a mud, migrating out of the old root ball, and into the middle! This is the natural process of soil migration in a container. In this manner, all the roots get to take advantage of the nutrients in the soil, and the roots follow the migration of the nutrient rich soil, toward the outer edges where it does the most good. Watering in the manner I have described allows for a constant flow of soil throughout the container and will create an extremely dense root ball.
     
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  2. Dutch Pimp

    Dutch Pimp Up in Smoke

    I smell ...STICKY!

    I agree with all of the above :jointsmile:
    When I transplant to a bigger pot; I elevate the old root system about two inches and have a trench around the edges of the bigger pot.
     

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    Last edited: May 18, 2014
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  3. Mark Gordan Smith

    Mark Gordan Smith Registered+

    If this does become a Sticky...and lets be honest, it should be, then perhaps I must not reply. Maybe a Mod will edit.
    The point is, I would not have considered watering so carefully and thoughtfully...Time to change my evil ways and see it from the plants view.

    And now a bit of innocent frivolity...can we have a Emmie vid up on youtube? Just a view of the watering-can showing the method in practice? Mayby a commentary?
    Just a 3-grow failure noobie's bit of fantasy!!
     
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  4. tlranger

    tlranger Registered+

    That curve, went by me.

    1. Yes I wanna see a video of emmie, you could wear a mask, works for me.

    2. I know this is not about planting. But I think I sink mine in a little deeper than you guys.
     
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  5. jimmyy420

    jimmyy420 Registered+

    NOW I know how to water.....Thanks Emilya......
     
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  6. Gone Camping

    Gone Camping Registered+

    Great Guide Emilya.. appreciate the effort and willingness to share. :jointsmile:

    Might i ask if there is a proper time to water? Early in the day/lights is what i'v heard.. and do currently.
     
  7. emilya

    emilya Future Dispensary Owner

    I have always heard the same thing... the light being the energy that primes the pump and allows the water to rise up into the plant.
     
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  8. emilya

    emilya Future Dispensary Owner

    The original purpose of my article on how to water a potted plant was to explain what I had discovered about the flow of soil within a root ball. My article has been pointed to many times however as a definitive guide on watering, and in that, it was not complete. With this little article I intend to fill in some gaps in the original article with some of the most common watering mistakes that I see out in the forum.

    By far, the most common plant problem that I see with new gardeners is a lack of understand as to how to water the roots of their plants so as to entice the root system to grow bigger. Some new people get it set in their mind that watering every day or every other day is best, or that somehow mysteriously they know in their own minds exactly how much water the plants need. These well-meaning new gardeners will give exactly one quart or some other random amount, each time, no more... and no less, and really believe that they are doing a good thing for their plants. Just as bad as these are the “stick your finger in the ground” crowd, who proclaim: it's time to water when it is dry below the second knuckle. What they don’t realize is that when the top 2 inches is dry, the lower half of the container could still be saturated with water. Both of these common mistakes in watering are quick ways to drown your plants. These above described methods are not optimum, and some of them can actually kill your plants.

    Marijuana is a weed, and this scientific term refers to a class of plant that thrives in adversity. In order to grow it well, you need to understand that this incredibly robust plant works a bit differently than other, less hardy plants. It is extremely aggressive if you allow it to be, and you can use its abilities to send out new roots to your advantage.

    Watering incorrectly is the most common mistake that new weed farmers make. This plant needs a clear wet/dry cycle in order to thrive. If you keep it moist, you will kill it. The roots will aggressively chase your water, whatever you give them. If you just give a small amount every couple of days, that water will drop right to the bottom of the container. Your roots will follow, and will cluster on the bottom, instead of growing laterally throughout the container, and since they continually sit in the nutrient rich water, the plant sees little need to grow additional roots. How you water makes a huge difference in the formation of the root ball, and how this development happens is up to you.

    Let me tell you a truism. It is best to water the roots, not the plant. A healthy and robust root system means a happy and productive plant. Neglect the roots and your plants can die, and certainly will be less than they could have been.

    Then there is the art of successive up-potting and its importance in growing a healthy root system. People like to be lazy. I am constantly seeing new gardeners take a little sprig of a weed and put it in a big 3 or 5 gallon container, thinking that they have done a good thing, and are now done with it... it's on to harvest time! The problem is, this doesn't work, because it gives you zero control over the roots, and without crazy watering techniques, almost no chance of a solid root ball forming. It is imperative to successively up pot your plants through stages so that the root system can roughly take on the same size and shape as the plant in order to get the maximum productivity. The roots grow aggressively in these weeds, and if you confine them to a container the size of the plant, they will fill that space in a short time with a dense root system. Putting a plant in an oversized container can and often does, result in drowning the plant, root rot and overall poor health and certainly less than optimum harvests.

    Another very important lesson for the new gardener to learn is the importance of PH. It is important to understand that there is a scientific reason why a proper Ph allows the plants to use nutrients, and why being outside of the proper range can cause deficiencies. If you want to grow pot, you need to invest in a method to test the ph of any water going into the plant, whether it is plain water or water mixed with nutrients, and whether it is applied to the roots or sprayed on the leaves. If you neglect the Ph, you can easily create deficiencies in your plants, and if left unchecked, you can even kill them. If you spend a lot of money on nutrients, it makes sense that you would want to also create the proper environment so that the plant can use these nutrients, but with a Ph way out of the 6.3-6.8 range in soil, a lot of those expensive nutrients will just sit there, not doing the plant any good.

    I am sure that I will be adding to these thoughts as time goes by, but the above observations are the result of having to explain the same thing over and over again, as new people continue to join C.com. Good luck with your garden, and realize that those of us who have done this for a number of years, do have some insights into how this all works. Also, realize that this special plant does not grow like anything else you have ever tried to grow, and no matter how good you are at growing peas, beans and tomatoes, you will have to change your methods a bit to grow a weed.

    Emmie
     
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  9. Mark Gordan Smith

    Mark Gordan Smith Registered+

    What is this fascination people have with chopping on their plants in mid flower?? I wonder how these poor plants survive at all in nature without kindly human beings around to whack off their body parts when they turn a little yellow?

    We are talking about cutting on the plants in flower... not topping during veg. And yes, plants in their own way are smart, and your calculus comment just sounds argumentative.

    Over the last several years I have put a lot of study into this, and I feel that I can now define the proper way to water a potted plant.

    Today as I was doing my mid flower flush I realized something so profound that it has convinced me that I need to add another flush to my regular routine. I will from now on be doing a 3rd flush right at the end of veg, before up-potting to my final sized pot as well as at mid flower, and at the end. Why in heavens name would I do this?

    I find that I have my best luck on a dinner plate, inside a folded square of 2 or 3 paper towels that have been rinsed several times in tap water to remove the chemicals. I soak down the paper real good and put the seeds inside and then cover the plate with saran wrap.

    By far, the most common plant problem that I see with new gardeners is a lack of understand as to how to water the roots of their plants so as to entice the root system to grow bigger. Some new people get it set in their mind that watering every day or every other day is best, or that somehow mysteriously they know in their own minds exactly how much water the plants need.


    With apologies to the Heineken TV advert> Emilya.....Refreshes the forum with information other boards fail to teach!
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
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  10. emilya

    emilya Future Dispensary Owner

    Thank you for the quotes Mark, it does make me feel special that you think that some of my words are quoteworthy.

    I have been thinking more about what I discovered about soil migration in a closed system (a container) and realized that Weezard has once again taught me a fundamental basic point about what is happening in the root ball. It was he who casually threw out that it was the goal to displace 50% of the soil with roots.

    With that in mind, I have realized that my watering method is the means to make this happen.

    First, look at the surface of my soil and how this ridge has formed around the edge of the transplanted root ball, and how the center around the stalk has sunk down a bit below the surface.

    DSCF3012 (1072 x 804).jpg

    What you see happening here is the result of the watering technique that I describe at the top of this thread, but with even more of an effort to drive the soil out of the middle, at the end of the watering process. Instead of using half of the watering pitcher in the middle section as I am approaching run off, I am making sure that an entire quart gets in there by watering very slowly just in the middle and letting it pool and sink down. I am actively driving the soil out of the middle, making room for the roots to grow even bigger there, and as they do, the lateral growth has to also be getting bigger. I have seen a steady increase in the amount of water needed to get to run off this time around and at mid flower they are already using approximately 30% more water than I would have predicted just using standard watering techniques.

    At the end of this grow I will be dissecting these root balls to see what has happened, but I can tell from the response of my plants, that they are loving this. Every one of them is thriving with their leaves splayed upwards towards the lights and the harvest is going to be spectacular if things continue the way they are now. I do hope that your gardens are doing just as well.

    Em
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
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  11. GigaBud

    GigaBud Registered+

    I read your answer in another thread about watering!
    How dare you mention me as being wrong ......!????
    ( kidding thanx for mentioning me as being at fault)
    So here is the question ....... I am growing in 3.5 gallon pots you define a clear wet and a clear dry cycle!?
    How can I establish this , Wait 7 days and begin a once a week watering paying attention to just start water run off?
    Then water the root ball?
     
  12. GigaBud

    GigaBud Registered+

    You are great asset!

    I read your answer in another thread about watering!
    How dare you mention me as being wrong ......!????
    ( kidding thanx for mentioning me as being at fault)
    So here is the question ....... I am growing in 3.5 gallon pots you define a clear wet and a clear dry cycle!?
    How can I establish this , Wait 7 days and begin a once a week watering paying attention to just start water run off?
    Then water the root ball?
     
  13. smello1

    smello1 Registered+

    Great reading material Em.Smello1;)
     
  14. emilya

    emilya Future Dispensary Owner

    Thanks smello1, I appreciate that a lot!

    Glad you took it the way it was intended Gig... just trying to help.
    There are many ways to tell when it it time to water, and if you wait long enough the girls will actually tell you. They do two things when they see that they need water, they throw out a smell, and they begin to wilt, starting at the bottom, moving up. You can also use the lift method to tell when the container is dry, and almost always you will "feel" a dry container, before the above mentioned wilt starts. Rusty taught me an important lesson, every time I think that I need to do something to my plants, wait a bit... try to move at the speed that your plants are moving.
    If you have a moisture meter you can use it to find where the wet/dry line is in your container, and you can watch it move down over time. I used to graph my water level by day, so that I could project ahead when the wet dry line would reach that last inch. Your wet/dry line will never go lower than that last inch or so either, because once you get down in there, you are in all the big tap roots and mass at the bottom, and it tends to stay wet there longer. Again, if you wait for the first sign of wilt and that perfume pump that happens at "water me" point, it will be just a bit longer than your measurements would indicate.
    I am sure though that anywhere in that first inch is ok to water. You have dried out 95% of the water by that time and the roots have been chasing it as the wet/dry line progresses both downward and outward.
    So Gig, to fix the problem you have created is not going to be hard, if you pay attention to what you are doing. Read what I talk about above, about making the outside of your container the wettest spot as you water. Take your time and make sure that by the time you reach run off, you have mostly watered around the outside edge. Forget going down the middle for now, you have been doing that already and that tap root will be strong. Concentrate on getting roots to grow sideways in your container now, by making sure that the roots have to chase the water to the outside edges. It takes more time to water this way, but those dang roots will follow you, if you just lead them to where you want them to go.
    After you read this, do not water again until you get to that true dry place as described above. When you get close, check your plants every couple of hours if you have to, and see for yourself that your plants indeed will ask you for water, if you only know how to listen. Then and only then, water the outside edges, to run off. Rinse and repeat in another 3 days or so, maybe 4 until your root ball recovers. Do this for about 3 cycles and I will bet that you see amazing differences in your plants.
     
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  15. Dutch Pimp

    Dutch Pimp Up in Smoke

    You can't beat a good set of roots! :greenthumb:
     

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  16. smello1

    smello1 Registered+

    :jawdropper:dammmm
     
  17. emilya

    emilya Future Dispensary Owner

    wow indeed... how did you accomplish that DP?
     
  18. tlranger

    tlranger Registered+

    I gotta ask, what exactly is the flow of soil through the root ball, thinking you meaning the flow of water through the medium.
     
  19. tlranger

    tlranger Registered+

    Are you talking transpiration?
     
  20. Dutch Pimp

    Dutch Pimp Up in Smoke

    my bad...it's not my pic...just posted for shits & giggles

    Looks like someone grew around a jiffy cube too long?
     
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