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Joined: Mon May 04, 2015 10:54 am
Location: River Ridge, Louisiana


As I'm sure others new to gardening have found, knowing when and how much to water is an unexpected challenge. Even though I swore I would not overwater my plants, I found myself drenching my plants too often. Would a soil moisture meter work on a potting mix?(I have an outside container garden) are there any other tricks to take some of the guess work out?

Thanks for the advice
River Ridge, south Louisiana

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Posts: 22
Joined: Tue May 19, 2015 7:41 am
Location: Detroit, MI (zone 6)

Re: Watering

Same here. I'm not a container gardener but I've started from seed this year and found just how sensitive my starts are to moisture. Haven't figured it all out yet, getting by on trial-and-error.

Once transplanted watering is so easy.

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Posts: 383
Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:22 pm
Location: Western Massachusetts Zone 6a

Re: Watering

Even in containers you can scape down a couple inches to see if the soil is moist. I have been using a moisture meter on some of my pots and normally if it registers around a "2" the plants have enough moisture and I won't water them until the meter registers near "1" or "0".

Of course different plants like different amounts of moisture so you need to know what the meter needs to register for your specific plants. Many meters come with a guide to help you determine the amount of moisture it should read for your plants. Many time your specific plants are not listed so you need to find a plant on their list that has similar needs.

But overall, the stick your finger into the soil to check for moisture does work pretty well. :)

Good luck!

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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:32 am
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Watering

The finger or chopstick test works too.
If you have a quick water trigger finger, or if like me you live in a place where you really cannot control it when it rains for a week at a time, change your planting mix to a drier mix and make sure you are not over potted in containers. 50/50 peat lite is what I use because I water nearly every day. I do not add more than 20% compost to my garden soil because I have clay which also retains water. I do not use compost or manure in pots ever, everything has died with that combination. Some people like to put dirt in their potting mix, but I have problems with the mix not draining so I don't like to do that although sometimes I get the dirt mix because I am using steam sterilized soil mix. I have to dilute that with more perlite.
Make sure your potted plants have lots of holes and if you are still over watering switch to terra cotta pots which breathe.

I have had to train myself to feel the soil for moisture and to not just automatically water. Sometimes with rain there isn't a need to water daily and sometimes it rains but the wind dries everything out so much I have to water twice a day. I also learned with mulch, and larger plants, sometimes they can go a day or two without needing water. My tomatoes are in deep containers (18 gallon tubs), when I water, I water deep, but with mulch on top, I can go two or three days sometimes before they need to be watered again. My orchids on the other hand are unhappy as it is easier for me to water everyday and harder for me to remember to water every four days. They end up starving.

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