another watering question..

bullet08(7)October 13, 2010

i have my fig trees in 12" pots. they have 5:1:1 soil mix. i water them until the water is at the rim of the pot and let them drain. once i do not see water coming out of the bottom of the pot, i tilt the pot at 45 degree angle and let it drain more. i do that is few different direction.

problem is, it's been at above 85 degree weather for last few days (around 60 degrees at night). i waterred the plants 4 days ago, and when i checked the soil, it was still damp about 1" from the top and at the bottom.

am i watering too much? i would imagine after 4 days at 85 degree temp, it will dry up rather nice.

plants are looking nice. there is no wilting leaves or anything. new leaves coming at the top and bud are opening up nice. they are all perky. i'm just concerned that i might be killing the roots.

any suggestions?

pete

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Dennis AKA Snaglpus(8a)

Get yourself a moister meter from your favortie hardware store and test your trees daily. Works for me! I have about 4 of them and you're going to need it in the winter too. cheers, Dennis

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 12:48PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I would wait until the soil feels dry at the drain hole before I watered. You could also stick a wick into a drain hole & wait until the wick is dry where it comes out of the soil before watering.

A lot of people use moisture meters, but they are/can be very deceiving. They actually don't measure moisture levels; rather, they measure the electrical conductivity of the soil solution. To illustrate: if you insert a clean probe into a cup of distilled water, the meter will read 'dry'; but if you add a little fertilizer or table salt, it reads 'wet'.

I can generally tell by looking at (most of) my plants how moist the soil is, but I find that the wick I described above, or a sharpened dowel rod or skewer stuck deep into the soil, are pretty reliable indicators of moisture content. For small plants, simply hefting the pot to gauge its weight is also a good 'tell'.

Al

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 2:47PM
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Dennis AKA Snaglpus(8a)

That's a good point Al. However, my moister meter did save me from killing my trees 2 years ago. I use a light soil mixture and the meters fine.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 3:24PM
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dieseler

Hi Pete, get a feel for when the pots are watered by grabbing the rim and tilting, when dry its so much lighter.
I have been doing this for years with various size pots i have and plants are fine.
Martin

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 4:01PM
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bullet08(7)

dennis,

i read up on moisture meter. will consider that.

al,

i have been doing finger/dowel thing too, but it never seem to be dry. there are always some moisture and dirt on the stick. i really don't want to wait till the plants are showing sign of wilting. reading your previous update, that with 5:1:1, i really don't want to wait too long.

martin,

i have been lifting the pot, and tilting them too.. i'm sorta dense when it comes to telling weight. and hate guessing too. most of the morning, i drive back to my house to make sure my garage doors are shut since i can't remember if i pressed right button..

pete

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 4:17PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Lol - don't second guess the dowel thing. ;o) If the stick is wet - so is the soil and you needn't water.

Here's the deal - soils FEEL dry to you when they still have about 40-45% moisture content, but plants can extract moisture from soils down to about 30% moisture content - some less, and I wouldn't be surprised if carica was one of the plants better suited to extracting moisture from drier soils. That aside, there is a built in cush of 10-15%, where your tree can still get moisture after the soil FEELS dry.

I often suggest that a grower intentionally keeps track of how long his/her plants can go between waterings. Water well, then wait until the first sign of wilt (watch the newest leaves). If you can go 5 days, and you're watering every 3 days - you're over-watering. This is an occasional test, not a regular thing.

Plants don't drink drops of water. They absorb it a molecule at a time from colloidal surfaces, and in vapor form. Think 'barely damp', not 'wet' for the best growth and vitality. Roots are the heart of the plant. If you concentrate on keeping the roots happy - I bet you'll be happy, too. ;o)

Al

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 5:16PM
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