“Why do my pansies look so wilted? I am giving them loads of water!” The aforementioned statement is something one always hears during winter. Winter watering is tricky at the best of times. To understand how one should water in winter let’s have a look at how watering actually works.
How watering works
Soil is filled with loads of tiny air pockets that are filled with water during rain or watering. As the water moves downwards through the soil, it pulls fresh air into those pockets behind it. Roots need air to grow and survive. When the soil is waterlogged, all those pockets are filled with water and if this continues for an extended period root rot will develop. The soil type also determines its ability to hold water. Clay soil retains water better, whilst sandy soil drains faster.
Watering in general
- The majority of plants, with the exception of marsh and carnivorous plants, don’t like being waterlogged the whole time.
- The top part of the soil dries out a lot faster than the soil where the roots are, before watering always feel if the soil is moist with your finger.
- Plants wilting can also result from overwatering. We see a plant wilting and reactively think, “Oh it needs more water.” This is one of the quickest ways to kill one’s plants with kindness.
- Refrain from watering your plants a little bit every day, this will only moisten the top layer of the soil without any moisture getting through to the roots.
- Rather water your plants less frequently but for longer periods, this is closer to natural rainfall, allowing the plants to dry out between watering.
Watering in winter
- During winter, we have to adjust our watering according to the weather.
- Where possible refrain from watering before 9 am and no later than 3 pm.
- Try to keep your plants dry during the night and early morning. Wet leaves during the night time can often lead to fungal diseases.
- With the cooler weather during winter, plants lose less water during the day. We have to decrease the frequency of watering.
- Remember to mulch your plants, this will help keep moisture in the soil and even protect your plant’s roots from the cold. Water less when using mulch.
- Make watering easier by grouping/zoning all plants with the same water requirements together. It also helps prevent certain plants from being overwatered.
- Be aware of your local municipality’s water restriction status. If there is a restriction in place, use your common sense. We all have to do our part in conserving water even if we see leaking infrastructures every day. Be part of the solution, not the problem.
Watering is actually a lot easier than we think. Follow our guide on winter watering and you’ll have a happy and healthy garden. Always remember: plants are just like us if it is too cold for us to swim, don’t water your plants either.