How to Water (Smarter)

How to Water (Smarter)

Spend more time admiring your plants and less time watering and fussing. Here's how. 
It’s been dry here for about a week. Not a drop of rain. And there's nary a drop of rain in the forecast. As I was watering the plants on my deck, I was noticing how some plants were struggling (I’m looking at you, wilting basil) yet others were just sailing along (oh, those happy succulents). 

Not all plants need the same amount of water. Some need daily drinks and others are like camels and can go for days without a drop. If you don’t get regular rainfall (like our yard this month) and you don’t like wandering around your yard with a hose or watering can, here are some easy tips for water conservation -- and happier plants.

1. Choose Low-Water Plants
Succulents are the way to go for low-maintenance deck plantings. These non-thirsty beauties, left, haven’t been watered for a week and they look splendid. If it doesn’t rain in a couple of days, I’ll give them a drink. Here are more low-water plants. 

2. Add Mulch (Even to Containers)
I add a layer of mulch to garden beds—it’s the classic way to reduce watering chores. But I also use this water-saving strategy in pots with open soil. Once the plants have filled in, they will serve as their own mulch.

3. Group Pots Together
It’s easier to water when containers are grouped together; you also use less water. Not only can I move the hose from pot to pot without spilling water onto the ground (and wasting it), but a collection of plants (such as this Tropic Escape® mandevilla and Tropic Escape® Sex on the Beach tropical hibiscus)  creates a mini ecosystem of humidity that benefits all the plants in a group.

4. Collect Rainwater
Use less water by collecting it from nature. Rain barrels gather up the largess from your downspouts after a big rain storm. And here’s really pretty way to collect water -- with a rain chain. 

5. Use Drip Irrigation
Add drip systems to garden beds—and even containers (see photo above). Drip systems direct water to where the plants need it -- the roots. Plus, there’s no loss of water due to evaporation, like what happens when you use a sprinkler. Here are more helpful tips for watering plants (both indoors and out). 

Learn more about the water-saving gardening technique known as xeriscaping. 

Written by Karen Weir-Jimerson