Over watering will kill plants as surely as under watering so what should you do? Most plants need to breath oxygen through their roots, if the soil is saturated there will be no oxygen and the plant will die. Water and wetland plants are the exception to this rule and they get their oxygen by other means.
Most plants need to absorb water through their roots if there is no water they will die, usually it takes longer to die from lack of water than drowning, if a plant starts to wilt water it urgently. Some plants such as pines and junipers don’t wilt so be sure to check for soil moisture during dry periods. Cacti and succulents can survive for long periods between watering but still do need some water, if they start to show signs of shrinking it’s time to water.
So the trick is to water the soil so it is not saturated but moist. Allowing about 1/3 of the depth of the roots to dry out then watering is a guide for most plants. Dig into the soil with your finger or a trowel to check if water is needed and also after after watering to see if it has soaked in.
When applying these guidelines consider the plant type and how it exists in the wild and try to replicate those conditions eg. Plants from a desert region will need less water and you may allow the soil to dry out more than usual but they will be more susceptible to drowning and fungal disease as they are not used to wet conditions. Plants from a wet area will need regular watering don’t let them dry out as much.
The hotter the weather the more water will be required, even plants that are drought tolerant and may need water if there is a combination of drought and extreme heat.
Water needs to soak into the soil, applying the water slowly (drippers) or repeat waterings will let it soak in. With pot plants make sure that the water is soaking into the potting mix as when they are dry the potting mix may shrink and leave a gap between pot and the mix which the water just runs through. Pick up the pot and check if it feels heavy enough, with practice this works well.
Some soils become hydrophobic meaning they repel water and it does not soak in, to overcome this problem use a wetting agent such as Wetasoil, it allows the water to soak in quicker and lasts for up to three months.
If you have any questions please come to Beaudesert Hardware and ask our nursery staff for assistance.