Plant irrigation is important to the health of your yard. Under-watering is not good for your plants and overwatering your plants is surprisingly common as well. Let’s first discuss what happens when you overwater your plants. To help you, we’ve created a list of four signs to recognize when determining if there is too much water in your landscape.
1. Roots are Critical to Plant Life
Roots are your plants primary source for water, food and oxygen intake. While the roots of the plant drink up water, they also need air to breathe. In simple terms, overwatering drowns your plant. Healthy soil allows for oxygen to exist in the space between particles of soil. If there is too much water or the soil is constantly wet, there is not enough air pockets. This results in a limited oxygen supply and plants are unable to breathe.
2. Leaves Turn Brown and Wilt
When plants have too little water, the leaves turn brown and wilt. This also occurs when plants have too much water. The difference between the two is too little water will result in your plant’s leaves feeling dry and crispy to the touch, while too much water results in soft and limp leaves.
3. Water Pressure Begins to Build
Water pressure begins to build in the cells of plant leaves when the roots absorb more water than they can use. Cells will eventually die and bust, forming blisters and areas that look like lesions. Once these blisters erupt, tan, brown or white wart-like growths begin to form in their place. You will notice indentations forming directly above the growth on the top sides of the leaves, limiting oxygen supply leaving plants unable to breath.
4. Stunted Slow Growth
Stunted, slow growth accompanied by yellowing leaves is also a symptom, as well as leaves falling off. If your plants have yellowing leaves and old and new leaves are failing at the same accelerated rate, you are overwatering.
Be sure to check your soil regularly. Don’t be afraid to push your fingers about an inch or two down into the soil to check its moisture. If the soil feels moist and you observe some of the signs above, it’s a definite indication you need to reduce your watering. Many stores also sell accurate moisture meters, simply insert them into the root ball and it will tell you how much water is in the soil. This simple and inexpensive tool can take much of the guess work out of watering your landscape.
Unfortunately, many of the signals you receive from your plants for under-watering are similar to those you’ll receive when overwatering. Under-watering and overwatering plants usually reach the same outcome- sick or dead plants. Below are some important signs to look for that will help you determine if you are under-watering your plants.
Your Plant is Wilting
Wilting is a sign of both under and overwatering your plants. In the case of under-watering your plant, when you feel the leaves, you will notice they are crisp instead of limp. Wilting in this case is a symptom of lack of water passing through the cells of a plant. Plants have pores on the surface of their leaves called stoma, which allow oxygen to enter the plants. When plants don’t have enough water, they close their stoma in order to stop evaporation and leads to wilting. Remember, wilting plants can also be a symptom of overwatering, excessive sun, too much fertilizer or plant disease.
The Soil is Dry
A simple solution for testing soil moisture is with the use of a long screwdriver. Walk your property and press the screwdriver into the ground. When the soil is moist, the screwdriver should penetrate the soil easily. The depth of penetration will vary by soil type, size of screwdriver and your strength. As the soil dries up, the screwdriver will be harder and harder to push into the soil.
A slowdown in growth is a sign your plant is not receiving enough water. This can be temporary or a permanent situation. If the plant experiences a temporary decrease in watery supply, growth may just slow for a short period. If the challenge is more permanent, you may see new leaf growth being smaller than normal.
Lower leaves are usually the first to suffer, becoming yellowed and curled, sometimes developing dry edges.