Secrets To Watering Your Outdoor Plants

Prevent transplant shock by keeping the roots of new plants at the right moisture level. Learn factors that can dissipate soil moisture.

By: Debbie Neese
September 28, 2021
Secrets To Watering Your Outdoor Plants
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Getting Your Outdoor Plants Off to a Good Start by Watering

There are a lot of different ways to water your plant during planting. Here is a failproof way to know that the soil around the roots is sufficiently wet and helps avoid transplant shock.

Prevent Transplant Shock

First, hydrate your plant before planting it in the ground to avoid transplant shock. Also, don't use icy cold water but tepid water that is lukewarm. Just remember how shocking it is to get into an ice-cold shower; this is not the polar bear plunge, so your plants won't like it either.

Second, when you dig the hole and center the Lively Root plant in the spot, please don't wait to water it after adding the soil and amendments. Water around the plant and dampen the soil at the root level while exposed, and before covering them with soil, so the roots have water to reach after planting.

After adding the soil and amendments, you can water the topsoil portion around it to give it plenty of moisture. Then add mulch if you want. Mulch will shade weed seeds and help preserve the moisture levels in the soil from evaporating as fast. Ground covers can also be planted as a living mulch to reduce the need for mulch.

Keeping Roots at the Right Moisture Level

When planting your new Lively Root plant baby in the ground, you'll want to watch the roots' moisture level, especially in the first year. Giving it a drink means the water has to seep down to the root area. For groundcovers and annuals, that's infiltration of 12 inches. For new shrubs, it's 2 feet, and trees are 3 feet. Just think 1,2,3 to make it easy. Depending on your soil structure will determine how long it takes to penetrate the soil. It won't take as long to drain if you have sandy soil, but it will take longer if you have clay soil. You will have to do a little experimenting and monitor this. Try using our 3 in 1 meter for the groundcovers or bulbs you plant to help evaluate the moisture level. If your sensor is registering dry and you've sunk it deep into the ground, then it's time to water.

Shallow rooted plants 

Be aware that shallow-rooted plants need more moisture at the ground level, at a two to three-inch depth. Sometimes the soil will dry out fast depending on the weather, heat, wind, and other plants surrounding it, so again, use your meter to measure the soil's moisture and keep your watering on a calendar reminder. Also, watch your weather forecast daily and see when your plant may need supplemental watering. 

Competition around the plant

Plants compete for water. Their tiny roots are working hard to supply water to the leaves for photosynthesis. Even weeds are getting in on the competition. So give your plant plenty of room to flourish and provide it with supplemental watering until it is established. And don't forget to weed. All of these points will help the plant get a good start in the landscape! 

And by the way, the best time to weed is after a good rain. The soil is moist, making it so much easier to yank out the weed by the root. So lessen that competition around your plant for water and conserve it for your plant! We sing, "weeds, weeds, go away, you're not invited back any other day!"

Cold Weather

Right before a significant cold snap in your area, make sure your plants are well watered. This precaution will help prevent desiccation to your outdoor garden plantings. Cold air can wreak havoc on some plants if it's a sudden temperature drop and mother nature hasn't given the plants time to acclimate. 

Did you know your plants go dormant in the wintertime (for the most part?) Mother Nature has the neatest preservation method up her clever sleeve. The soil cools as the temperatures change in the fall. Then, the deciduous plants will start losing their leaves. This chain reaction helps the plant preserve its resources and puts it into a dormant period where it kind of 'goes to sleep for the winter' like a bear would go into hibernation. Then a substance somewhat like 'antifreeze' works its way through the plant stems to preserve it so the winter cold won't kill it. That's how they survive! Isn't that the coolest! In the meantime, your plant's roots are still growing beneath the surface, so providing enough water during this period is crucial for that spring flush of new leaves! 

Inadequate Rainfall & Supplements

You may find that Mother Nature isn't always on time with regular waterings. If you're lucky enough to have a well or hold your excess water in a rain barrel, that's terrific. Watch the weather each day. Take a walk through the garden with your plant meter to inspect each plant and its moisture needs. 

If you live in a dry, desert area or experiencing long drought times, xeriscaping is the answer. Finding native, drought-tolerant plants and grouping them is the next best thing in working around this problem. But remember, to establish, your plants will still need adequate watering.

Best Times to Water Outdoor Plants

You may be wondering if there is a better time to water than another time. Generally, it's best to water in the morning before the sun gets too hot. This timing prevents wasting water through evaporation, and also, the leaves have time to dry before sundown to avoid fungus from forming. But if your plant is showing signs of stress, give it a drink immediately! 

Taking care of your new outdoor plant and giving it plenty of moisture in its first year is crucial to its longevity. 

We hope this gives you enough information to get your Lively Root plant off to a good start! Do you have a gardening tip to help your plant survive the first year? Please share with us on social media and use the hashtag #livelyroot! If you'd like to know if your plants are getting enough water each week, learn how here.