Three Easy Ways to Water Potted Plants

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Container gardening is one of the easiest ways to grow organic flowers and edibles in your garden. You can take advantage of sunny areas, and it doesn't matter how awful (or nonexistent) your garden soil is, because you can fill your containers with perfect, fluffy soil. But watering can be a challenge, especially during hot, dry weather. Here are a few tips for keeping your container gardens happy.

Three Easy Ways to Water Container Gardens

The point of these three methods is to provide a steady, slow trickle of water to your potted gardens. In hot, dry weather, potted plants may need to be watered twice a day. If you're going to be away from home, and are worried about your container gardens drying out, these methods can buy you some peace of mind.

While you could purchase some manufactured gadget to do this job, reusing items from around your home makes this an inexpensive and eco-friendly project. You don't need much: a plastic bag, an empty plastic water bottle, or an unglazed flower pot will do the job nicely.

1. Plastic Bottle Waterer

This is a great option for both container gardens and for watering individual plants in your home or garden. Just poke a few holes in the bottom of a plastic water or soda bottle (if you don't buy water or soda in plastic bottles, check your neighbor's recycling bin.) Add some stones to the bottom to keep the bottle from blowing away when it's empty, fill with water, and set it in your container.

The bottle will slowly trickle water, and your plants will get a good, deep watering. This works very well in potted plants, but you can also do this out in your garden to water individual plants; it's a great idea if you've planted something and a drought hits before the plant is established; it will stay well-watered and survive the drought.

2. Plastic Bag Waterer

This is a method I came up with during a long dry spell a while back. It makes use of gently used zipper top bags or other plastic bags. It's based on the same principle as the above plastic bottle waterer, but because the bag is so flexible, you can fit it in between plants a bit more easily. This is important if your plants have already started to fill in a bit and you can't fit a plastic bottle between them. You can reuse the bags as needed, just store them between uses.

3. Terra Cotta Pot Waterer

This idea is based on the old technique of burying unglazed terra cotta jugs (called ollas) in the garden, filling them with water, and letting them slowly release that water into the soil. For the container garden version, you do need to do a bit of planning ahead of time (so if you already have a container planted, this won't work for you.)

Simply get a small (3 to 4 inch) diameter unglazed terra cotta pot. Use clay to seal up the drainage hole in the bottom. Then, bury the pot in your container so that the rim of the pot is even with the surface of the surrounding potting soil. Then, when you want to water, simply fill the terra cotta pot, and it will slowly release the water, keeping your container garden soil moist.

Keeping a potted garden healthy during drought or excessive heat can be tricky. Dry conditions stress plants, which makes them more susceptible to pests and diseases. These tips will help both you and your garden make it through a hot, dry spell unscathed.
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