The Basics of Watering a Traditional Container Garden

Learn simple tricks to keep your container plants healthy and thriving.

from Secrets and Tips from Yesterday's Gardeners

Plants in containers are more dependent on you for water than those growing in the ground. Remember that hot or windy weather will dry out pots quickly, so keep a watchful eye on them in these conditions and be prepared to water them several times a day if needed. Careful preparation of containers will help to conserve water.

1. Let in the rain. Check that there is nothing sheltering containers and window boxes from rainfall, and that the rain can penetrate the soil and will not simply run off the foliage.

2. Mulch to prevent dehydration. Protect large plants in pots from drying out by adding a layer of pebbles or glass beads on top of the compost.

3. Use ground cover. Grow ground-cover plants as an indicator of soil conditions at the surface of the pot. When they look limp you know that the top few centimetres have dried out, so the pot needs watering.

4. Watch for soil shrinkage. If soil shrinks so that it starts to come away from the side of the pot, immediately put the pot into water. Allow the plants to drink for up to an hour.

5. Soak new pots. Before you plant them, soak new terracotta pots in a bucket of water until bubbles stop rising to the surface. This will stop the pot drawing water from the soil, away from your plants.