To water, not to water

mosswitchJuly 13, 2012

I've seldom seen more conflicting advice short of a political convention. Drown them, make them grow. Too much water, you get crown rot. Not enough, they will be smaller next year. Let them dry out between waterings. They get damaged, drown them to help them come back. Too much moisture, you encourage slugs and other munchers, and critters will dig them up looking for water. To quote somebody, "water is the best fertilizer you can give a hosta." Feed them, don't feed them. Mulch them, don't mulch them.

There has to be a happy medium somewhere!

Seems to me you have to apply a bit of common sense, and realize that what works in Minnesota doesn't necessarily apply in Missouri, or Nor Cal, for that matter.

Ken's sandy soil will stand drowning, clay soil somewhere else or rich composty stuff will give you crown rot if you overwater.

Average soil doesn't need drowning, just a couple of inches of water a week for most everything is adequate in most areas except in extreme drought conditions, when you might need more. The best test is sticking your finger in the soil, regardless of whether it looks dry or not. If it is damp an inch or so down, it does not need watered. Even if the leaves look wilted, they do that sometimes in bright sun in the daytime to reduce leaf surface to evaporation and will perk up at night.

Seems to me you have to look at each garden on an individual basis, to see whether someone else's experience and advice applies to you. I have a couple of hostas that never get watered, even in the drought. They are fine, a bit smaller than the ones that get their weekly dose, but fine. The groundhogs don't bother with them, either. I would water the hostas a lot less than I do, if it weren't for the companion plants, ferns, astilbes, etc. that suffer if I don't. Sometimes I just give them supplimental hand watering rather than soaking the whole bed.

Speaking from my experience, I have found that I can save many a damaged plant with a couple or three applications of liquid root stimulator/plant starter solution. And water as necessary.


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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

I guess it's documented with my choice,but I never water,unless it's a new plant. Then,I water only long enough to get the plant started,and after that,the plant is on its own. Right now,it's raining and has been off and on for a few days. I never have lost a hosta due to drought,and they don't get smaller after a drought year. Hostas are better,for the most part,than they were last year,(at least most of them are). Some have grown really good,while still others are not as good as last year. Water doesn't seem to play a big part. They droop down in the hot weather we were having,and now are popped back up. All I know is,I plant them each year,usually with the green part at the same level as they were in the pot,and once they are established they grow. People on this forum try to over-complicate growing a very easy to grow plant. If you can't grow a hosta,then you should take up another hobby! That's my take,and I'm stickin' to it! Phil

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 12:51PM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

I absolutely agree. Because of the differences in soil, there isn't one blanket answer for everyone. Big difference between clay soil and sandy soil. And a big difference between clay soil well amended with compost and pine bark shreds and unamended clay soil.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 1:00PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

There has to be a happy medium somewhere!

==>> there sure is.. experimenting ..

and finding out WHAT WORKS IN YOUR SOIL...


Ken's sandy soil will stand drowning

==>>>> and not taking every word literally.. lol ...


The best test is sticking your finger in the soil,

===>>> and the witch hits the nut on the head ... to mix a metaphor

i like to share my knowledge ... that really doenst mean you have to take it literally .. and follow everything verbatim ... i will try to give you the variables .. its up to you to figure it out.. how it works IN YOUR SOIL.. in your ZONE.. etc ...


ps: e.g. .. i really dont expect any of you to be chucking them on the driveway .. to prove how much abuse they will take .... especially in zones 7/8/9 ...

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 1:01PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

"Even if the leaves look wilted, they do that sometimes in bright sun in the daytime to reduce leaf surface to evaporation and will perk up at night."

This is good to know. I thought drooping indicated that hosta required water. I've been watering the h*** out of them. Guess I'll relax a bit more.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 1:08PM
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