Afraid to water

bkay2000(8a TX)February 21, 2014

My fragrants are starting to come up. It rained last week, but not much. It's hard to tell if the soil is cool or slightly damp, but it seems that all my pots are pretty dry. There's no rain in the forcast. Days are in the 60's and low 70's; nights are in the 30's and 40's. There is a chance for rain on Tuesday.

After last year's significant cold damage and the losses, I'm afraid to water anything. I know that's nuts, but I really lost a lot of growth on my hosta last year. I don't want to repeat it this year. They were so damaged last year, that several came back with juvenile leaves after we finally warmed up the second time.

So, do you think I can leave them pretty dry for the next month without significant damage?


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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

analysis: when do hosta need lots of water???

answer: when in the high heat of the day.. they suffer to pump enough water to maintain cell integrity..

are you suggesting its so hot.. that you fear they will burn???

who knows... just my logic on it ..

do NOT rule out how cool it is at night ... a long recovery period from the moderate temps during the day ..

maybe????? ... you ought to stick to that ice cube theory i suggested previously.. as compared to a hose or a watering can.. a LITTLE water... rather than a drenching


ps: roots too wet in 30 to 40 degrees night temps.. will rot faster than the plant being harmed from a little dry during the day ...

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 5:37PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Don't water until you see an inch of green, and even then just a little. Pots are different from hostas in the ground. Moisture stays at the bottom even tho the top appears to be dry an inch or more down. When they first sprout, they use the moisture left in the crown and roots, so even though some appear to be bone dry all the way to the bottom, there is moisture in them (like a carrot.)

What I do when they begin to grow, is lightly water them with half strength fertilizer and a soil fungicide.

Little pots need more watching than larger ones. Can you tip a few and slide them out to see exactly how dry they are?

Worst case, Bkay, is that you end up with smaller plants due to lack of water vs DEAD plants with rot.

Your call.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 9:36PM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

Babka, that is the best info yet on watering. Hotter zones just don't follow the same rules as the rest and it's really a struggle to decide when and how much!

Bkay, I am struggling with this as well. Knew I would, with so many in pots this year. My pots are absolutely bone dry, but I refuse to water cause there's nothing growing yet at all and I keep thinking of those bulbs in plastic packets that start growing in the package with nothing but dry media in with them. Also, I know if I even water a tiny bit, then lose the hosta, I'll always wonder if it was b/c I added that little bit or if it was b/c I didn't add enough. Better to just go all dry until they start growing (hoping they do!) and if they don't, I'll at least know what the problem was and tackle it with a new plan next year. At least, this is what I keep telling myself. When I start seeing green, it's going to kill me to know when the proper time to start watering will be. I'll be chomping at the bit! Babka's info is really helpful. The ice cube thing just won't work here. It would be melted every other day, with our temp swings!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 11:34PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Ice cubes melt in about an hour here. I do use them a few times (maybe once or twice)when I get worried. Or just put a tablespoon or two of water in ea. smaller pot. My pots get ZERO water during winter, as they are under a tarp. (we are low 40's here at night with 50-60 during the days). If yours have had ANY water from the clouds DON't give them more. Think barely damp. Lift and look to be sure.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 11:55PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

I'll get out the ice cubes again if I get desperate. Thanks, guys for all the help.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 9:12AM
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Have you tried bottom watering only for the small pots? Just a thought. That's what I do with my seedlings once they sprout. It would be hard to do with a large pot but with smalls it might be a good alternative.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 11:44AM
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BKay, you must not have the humidity we have. If your humidity is really low, the ice cube trick would be beneficial. But, if you were here and saw the condensation on everything, you'd know there is plenty of moisture in the air, keeping things from becoming totally dry.

Don't you have FOG at this time of year? Mercy, it hangs in the air all the time, then comes down to blanket the ground at nightfall.

My pots are still tipped over, although some have a tiny bit of green showing. I know there will be a cold spell between now and Easter, always happens, so I'm not encouraging any to sprout. Mardi Gras is on this coming Tuesday, and Easter will be 8 weeks after that .... first Sunday after the first full moon of spring ... and that is how I time things here. By the Monday after Easter, everything will be sitting up in the sunshine to grow like gangbusters before it gets too hot for that, and I haul out the trusty umbrellas.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 12:53PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

Yeah, we always have the Easter cold front. As a child, seems like I always had to wear a coat to church on Easter. I wanted my "pink" dress to be seen, not hidden under a coat, and my hat always looked odd with a winter coat. That was many moons ago.

Our humidity has been between 35 and 50%. We had fog this morning, but it's not usual. It burned off by 10:00 AM. It's been clear and sunny all week, basically.

All the fragrants are putting up pips. So Sweet #1 has 2" pips.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 5:37PM
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