New to growing and I just want to know the best way to water my plants.

Hello Professor,

I’m really new to growing and I just want to know the best way to water my plants. I’m growing in potting soil and I don’t have a green thumb.

Thank you,


Hello Abbie,

Believe it or not this is one of the most common problems/questions that new growers have. Trust me it’s not that hard and after your first crop you’ll be an expert at it. Before we get into it I’m going to have to assume you have good drainage so that your plants won’t ever be sitting in a waterlogged mud filled nightmare. Such conditions lead to root rot, plant growth reduction, and eventually death. That being said let me explain how easy it is to water your soil-based plants.

First, whenever you water your plants soak them thoroughly. You want to make sure that every bit of the soil get wet. Any dry spots will harden and act like rocks denying your plants space to spread their roots. A drop of liquid dishwashing detergent added to your water will break the surface tension and allow the water to more efficiently saturate the soil. Also, you should never shallow water your plants by adding just a little bit water at a time. This encourages the plants to keep their roots near the surface and not spread throughout the entire container like they should.

Next, let the containers drain any excess water out. Like I said before, waterlogged roots will rot. After fifteen or twenty minutes if there is still water in the drain trays remove it. Never let your containers sit in water for any extended time. After a while you will know how much water it takes to properly saturate the soil in each container with a minimum of drainage. In other words, you’ll find that you will become naturally efficient at watering.

Overwatering can lead to root rot to allow the plants to use the water you gave them before you water again. Dry pots weigh a lot less than watered ones. A lot of growers simply pick up their pots to guess how long they have before they need to water. Such things come quickly with experience. Some growers will stick a finger into the soil a couple of inches to judge how dry it is. Others will invest in moisture meters to calm their OCD nerves. For you, I suggest doing two things. First, try picking up the pots every day to see how light they get, and listen to what the plants are telling you. If the plants get really thirsty their leaves will start to droop. Light weight containers and drooping plants means water NOW! In time you will learn when you need to water before the plants get too thirsty.

Lastly, because you are new to this please keep in mind that as the plants grow their demand for water will increase. Those little seedlings that you watered once a week or so might eventually need to be watered every day or two depending on plant and container size, heat, and any other number of factors.

Just trust yourself and you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

Professor Lee.

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