The Proper way to water a potted plant

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

  1. Caribbean99

    Caribbean99 Registered+

    Thanks Emilya! Your posts and stickies are invaluable. I'm really new to growing and have some autos and regs. in seedling stage in solo cups, just a week old and would surely have ruined them. Thanks!
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  2. tj hendrian

    tj hendrian Registered+

    I work in a dispensary watering over 2000 plants every other day. The plants are planted in Humboldt Coco. It can be really easy to over water coco and plants will get stunted. You can learn how much your pots weigh and tip them a little bit to feel how much water is in it. If it feels heavy and the top surface looks moist, Do Not water at all. If it feels like there is 1/3 full of water, then barely drizzle the whole surface of the soil with nutrient water. if the coco is completely dry, you can add water normal.
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  3. emilya

    emilya Future Dispensary Owner

    I was just advising someone on 420mag to do just that today, when dealing with large 5 and 7 gal containers. I either try to shove them an inch or tip them a bit... it is easy to tell if they are light, without totally lifting them up.
    That would be awesome to work with so many plants... I would be in heaven. I am having major TJ envy right now. :)
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  4. tj hendrian

    tj hendrian Registered+

    Haha. It is fun, I have been learning a lot! I want to help the world with the knowledge I learn from this one day. My job is still learning new techniques to growing and trying the newest stuff. We haven't converted to LEDs quite yet though. I will kepp you posted in what I a learn from there.
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  5. Anthony turnbull

    Anthony turnbull Registered+

    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 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.

    Damn dude or girl, I wish you would have posted this on my thread explained so much better!!! Very nice, that was my problem I went straight to a large container instead of uprooting, now I know how to water to so I don't get root rot or drowning xd
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  6. tj hendrian

    tj hendrian Registered+

    Well said Anthony!
  7. Anthony turnbull

    Anthony turnbull Registered+

    Tj hendrian I didn't post that lol, wish I did though!!! It was emilya who posted that xD look at the last paragraph(I wrote)
  8. tj hendrian

    tj hendrian Registered+

    ohhh. I am really sorry, I am stoned and was really astonished on how well she represented that! Emilya, You could not have stated it better! Nutrients and light, air flow and CO2 all depend on the roots being able to absorb the nutrients. Cannabis has aggressive root saps that can break down every nutrient in the proper PH level. If you are doing an indoor grow, which I am sure most of everyone is, PH is most important alongside to nutrients. A lot of tap water is between 6.5 and 7.5 and that makes a hell of a difference. I like 5.7-5-8 on all my current strains. I have noticed some tall kushy strains like the PH with frequent 6.3 to allow the more calmag absorb. I believe the roots are the brain and the leaves are the body both containing unbelievable muscles and miracles. If you are doing an all organic outdoor grow and your tap water is sitting at 7.3 or lower you can get away with watering you all organic outdoor crop with your hose as long as you filter the chlorine out to avoid killing off beneficial bacteria and fungus's that will correct your waters PH. Mother Nature can be very Powerful.
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  9. emilya

    emilya Future Dispensary Owner

    lol... i figured someone was stoned...
  10. tj hendrian

    tj hendrian Registered+

    I just double fisted a dozen dribbly dabs.
  11. tnewman22

    tnewman22 Registered

    Oh man...I know I'm coming into this a bit late...but I just had to commend you on your extremely logical and effective approach to maximize root growth with proper watering technique...

    I wish I would have found this sooner! I just have one question...

    I totally fell subject to planting seedlings into a 3 gallon container, thinking I was doing a good thing, today realizing how dangerously slow the water is used...and without a crazy watering technique I'll probably end up drowning my small plants.

    If the seedling is still small, like less than 2 weeks old, would you recommend gently transplanting them into smaller, more managable containers? Or should I just leave them be and try my best to be careful?

    Thanks, and again excellent write up!
  12. emilya

    emilya Future Dispensary Owner

    good question! I would transplant down to a smaller container, definitely... it will keep you from having a lot of trouble watering correctly. Force her to build a rootball in the smaller container, and then move up.
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  13. headhunchouk420

    headhunchouk420 Registered+

    ! So white man amazing
  14. Jenny71

    Jenny71 Registered+

    Hi,I'm 3 wks into flowering stage of my very first of info..lots I do not understand yet,but...I'm a spinge..plz feed me info!
  15. Jenny71

    Jenny71 Registered+

    I have a question,..u don't use any nutrients at all?..and only use rain water and molasses?
  16. Jenny71

    Jenny71 Registered+

    I am a newbie..first time often are ya'LL adding nutrients to your watering cycles?
  17. headhunchouk420

    headhunchouk420 Registered+

    Hi any info u need drop me an inbox I'll be more than happy to help.
  18. headhunchouk420

    headhunchouk420 Registered+

    What nutrients are you using? There may be a schedule (chart) that u can follow depending on what fertz you are using?? But you gotta remember all plant strains like different amounts of feed . ..
  19. emilya

    emilya Future Dispensary Owner

    please take this conversation to your own thread folks... this thread is about how to water a potted container.
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  20. emilya

    emilya Future Dispensary Owner

    Flowering addendum:

    It seems upon gaining more knowledge and experience; I have found that my watering guide is lacking a complete explanation of the process all the way from seed to harvest. Although everything said above is valid in veg, there is a point in the grow where things must change in order to give the plants everything that they want. Also, this watering discussion was meant to cover all container grows, but upon more experimentation with cloth grow bags (smart pots and the various clones) it became clear that the rules change a bit when using these cloth bags. Instead of adding a qualifier that this watering guide is only valid in hard sided containers, I decided to cover what happens in smart pots too.

    First, let’s look at our goals in veg. We are attempting to build as big and robust of a plant as we can to take to flower, and we do this by concentrating on developing a strong rootball. We tease out the watering and entice the plant to grow more roots, by forcing the plants to find the last bit of water on every wet/dry cycle. There is an adage in the plant (and coincidentally in the metaphysical world) that says, “As above, so below.” We can interpret this to mean that as long as the plant is growing in width and height, so are the roots. When we flip to bloom, the plants dramatically stretch, and of course, the roots below are also stretching. There is a point however, about 2 weeks into bloom when all this stretching stops, TOP AND BOTTOM.

    ShiggityFlip coined the adage first, and I now use this to explain the bloom part of watering. We build roots in Veg and use them in flower. – ShiggityFlip

    As soon as the goal is no longer to grow new roots and the vertical and horizontal growth of the plant has mostly stopped, it is then time to USE those roots. I have found that my plants thrive best in bloom when I switch gears and stop trying to dry them out, and instead try to keep them damp inside the core of the rootball. I finally give credit to the knuckle waterers, and concede that when in bloom, when the top roots dry out, it is time to water.

    Smart Pots:
    It is also clear that to completely cover container watering, we have smart pots to consider. If you use these bags correctly, by allowing air flow on all sides, including the bottom, amazing things happen. First, the rootball produced in one of these bags is far superior to anything else I have been able to produce in a hard sided container, whether they be round, octagonal, square… air pruning works. Because you get more roots and better air absorption, your plants go crazy in one of these bags if you let them. I find that I am watering every other day in 5 and 7 gallon smart bags, and the plants are taking 90% of what they would have taken if I had allowed them to dry out completely in 4 or 5 days. Water use has exploded in my bloom tent in bloom, and by keeping up with it, reading the plants and giving them what they ask for, I have the biggest and healthiest buds that I have ever seen at this point in a grow. For flower, I find that I have to modify the lift method, and change it to not waiting for feather light as we do in veg, but in just becoming “lighter.” After two days, popping my finger in the top to the middle knuckle confirms that the top root mass has become dry, and with those two criteria met, I water to runoff. At the present time, my 6 plants are using about 25 gallons of water a week, at least twice what I have ever given my plants.

    So, no matter the type and size of container, watering needs change once bloom has started and the stretch has ended. Don’t be afraid to water more often in flower. If you keep letting her dry out, she can handle that too, because she is a weed, but if you really want to see her thrive, “use” those roots in flower, and give her all the water she can take. This doesn’t mean watering 5 times a day every day… she can’t take that much… but if you have done well, flowering roots can take a lot more water than vegging roots can. Change the equation that is valid in veg, that wilting is better than overwatering, and try instead to give water every time the top and sides dry out and the lift method tells you that “most” of the water is gone,. You WILL see the difference.
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