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The Proper Way To Water A Potted Plant

94xjjohn

New Member
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Curly Beaver

Well-Known Member
I have a watering question for you Emilya...... I recently transplanted one Nebula in a 15 gallon smart pot. She has been topped and is a very healthy 16" plant. How would you water one like this? It has had 2 liter of water, poured directly in the center. I would think it will be another month before I thoroughly water it but do you have any suggestions for me? It is in FFOF and Perlite 3:1.
Thanks.
 

Emilya

Member of the Month: Mar 2019
I have a watering question for you Emilya...... I recently transplanted one Nebula in a 15 gallon smart pot. She has been topped and is a very healthy 16" plant. How would you water one like this? It has had 2 liter of water, poured directly in the center. I would think it will be another month before I thoroughly water it but do you have any suggestions for me? It is in FFOF and Perlite 3:1.
Thanks.
Any time you transplant it is important to saturate the new container, the goal being to merge the two soil regions. This will of course put a lot of water into that new container, and as you say, it should take some time for the plant to use that much water. The goal of transplanting is to make a larger plant, and indeed it is normal to see a very strong growth spurt shortly upon moving her to a larger space as the roots expand out to find the new limits to the environment.
Knowing that the roots will soon catch up, you can cheat a little bit on the first waterings after a large transplant. I did this exact thing in my current LSD log... I transplanted into 5 and 7 gallon containers from 3 quart containers. Knowing that it would take a week or longer to use all the water after the transplant and merging, I had to make sure to keep my original rootball teaming with living microlife... I could not let it totally dry out. 4 days into the transplant (bottom still wet) I watered with 1/2 gallon of water, spread out on the surface of the original rootball. 1/2 gallon wasn't enough to soak all the way down to the bottom and raise the water table, but it was enough to wet the top and the original rootball area. This was perfect, because then 4 days after that, the bottom had dried out... it took 8 day total on the 5 gallon containers and 9 on the 7 gallon... with your 15 gallon container I would figure on up to 2 weeks to totally dry out the first time, and then shave a few days off of that each wet/dry cycle for a couple of rounds until the system stabilizes at some number for the rest of the grow. While you are waiting for the roots to establish and assume a stabilized wet/dry cycle number, I would continue to water every 4-6 days with a smaller amount on the top, while waiting for the bottom to dry out for the big watering. Once your roots establish, or the wet/dry cycle gets to a point that the top could survive the period, then go back to the watering the entire container to saturation and then waiting for it to dry completely.
 

Curly Beaver

Well-Known Member
Any time you transplant it is important to saturate the new container, the goal being to merge the two soil regions. This will of course put a lot of water into that new container, and as you say, it should take some time for the plant to use that much water. The goal of transplanting is to make a larger plant, and indeed it is normal to see a very strong growth spurt shortly upon moving her to a larger space as the roots expand out to find the new limits to the environment.
Knowing that the roots will soon catch up, you can cheat a little bit on the first watering after a large transplant. I did this exact thing in my current LSD log... I transplanted into 5 and 7 gallon containers from 3 quart containers. Knowing that it would take a week or longer to use all the water after the transplant and merging, I had to make sure to keep my original rootball teaming with living microlife... I could not let it totally dry out. 4 days into the transplant (bottom still wet) I watered with 1/2 gallon of water, spread out on the surface of the original rootball. 1/2 gallon wasn't enough to soak all the way down to the bottom and raise the water table, but it was enough to wet the top and the original rootball area. This was perfect, because then 4 days after that, the bottom had dried out... it took 8 day total on the 5 gallon containers and 9 on the 7 gallon... with your 15 gallon container I would figure on up to 2 weeks to totally dry out the first time, and then shave a few days off of that each wet/dry cycle for a couple of rounds until system stabilizes at some number for the rest of the grow. While you waiting for the roots to establish and assume a stabilized wet/dry cycle number, I would continue to water every 4-6 days with a smaller amount on the top, while waiting for the bottom to dry out for the big watering. Once your roots establish, or the wet/dry cycle gets to a point that the top could survive the period, then go back to the watering the entire container to saturation and then waiting for it to dry completely.
10-4
I'll give it a good watering tomorrow. It is already 2" inches taller than her 5 gallon sister, everything else being equal.
Thank you for the reply.
 

SHRuuM

New Member
Great thread and quite a bit of needed knowledge disseminated here. One thing I noticed here and in other threads is that no one seems to be[or know] about polymers in the soil mix. As a guerrilla farmer for many a decade it was back breaking work to haul gallons of water to a reclusive site. Here in Texas where there may be 30 days of +100 degree weather, and at least 3 months of +95 degree weather, the advent of polymers in the late 80's was a god send. To me polymers make it stupid proof and helps hold moisture around the root ball. I've had 6 foot plants drooping the next day after a gallon and a half slow dripping around the plant because of extreme heat evaporation. Just my 2 cents worth of info to this fine thread.
:high-five::thumb::nicethread:
 

Radogast

Grow Journal of the Month: April 2017
Great thread and quite a bit of needed knowledge disseminated here. One thing I noticed here and in other threads is that no one seems to be[or know] about polymers in the soil mix. As a guerrilla farmer for many a decade it was back breaking work to haul gallons of water to a reclusive site. Here in Texas where there may be 30 days of +100 degree weather, and at least 3 months of +95 degree weather, the advent of polymers in the late 80's was a god send. To me polymers make it stupid proof and helps hold moisture around the root ball. I've had 6 foot plants drooping the next day after a gallon and a half slow dripping around the plant because of extreme heat evaporation. Just my 2 cents worth of info to this fine thread.
:high-five::thumb::nicethread:
Welcome to :420: SHRuuM (great name :) )

No longer living in the western deserts of California and Arizona (Arid-zona- get it?), I have 3 permanent streams and a river 200 yds away on a 3-acre parcel of land. Retaining water is the least of my worries. I sure could use those 250 days of cloudless sunshine in a year - freezing rain today and snow predicted Monday night :)
 

SHRuuM

New Member
Wow Rad like your signature. So you have a perpetual motion harvest going, probably Indicas, nice. Ever try my favorite, an ebb and flow system? Right now I'm doing pots but prefer the E&B since I want to get near a 100% harvest of CKS seeds and with cloning in mind. Next time try a 1/2 cup of polymers and watch your watering get cut in half. Cheers mate.
:goodjob::thumb::idea:
 

Radogast

Grow Journal of the Month: April 2017
Wow Rad like your signature. So you have a perpetual motion harvest going, probably Indicas, nice. Ever try my favorite, an ebb and flow system? Right now I'm doing pots but prefer the E&B since I want to get near a 100% harvest of CKS seeds and with cloning in mind. Next time try a 1/2 cup of polymers and watch your watering get cut in half. Cheers mate.
:goodjob::thumb::idea:
I don't want to lengthen my times between watering, I frequently wait 1-3 weeks between waterings anyway. I want my roots to dry out sometime ! I'm indica heavy and balanced mostly. I recently planted a high CBD almost pure Sativa, but I only had one seed and it didn't take. AK47 is about as Sativa as I have :)
 

Emilya

Member of the Month: Mar 2019
Flowering addendum:


It seems upon gaining more knowledge and experience; I have found that my watering guide is lacking a complete explanation of the process all the way from seed to harvest. Although everything said above is valid in veg, there is a point in the grow where things must change in order to give the plants everything that they want. Also, this watering discussion was meant to cover all container grows, but upon more experimentation with cloth grow bags (smart pots and the various clones) it became clear that the rules change a bit when using these cloth bags. Instead of adding a qualifier that this watering guide is only valid in hard sided containers, I decided to cover what happens in smart pots too.


First, let’s look at our goals in veg. We are attempting to build as big and robust of a plant as we can to take to flower, and we do this by concentrating on developing a strong rootball. We tease out the watering and entice the plant to grow more roots, by forcing the plants to find the last bit of water on every wet/dry cycle. There is an adage in the plant (and coincidentally in the metaphysical world) that says, “As above, so below.” We can interpret this to mean that as long as the plant is growing in width and height, so are the roots. When we flip to bloom, the plants dramatically stretch, and of course, the roots below are also stretching. There is a point however, about 2 weeks into bloom when all this stretching stops, TOP AND BOTTOM.


ShiggityFlip coined the adage first, and I now use this to explain the bloom part of watering. We build roots in Veg and use them in flower. – ShiggityFlip


As soon as the goal is no longer to grow new roots and the vertical and horizontal growth of the plant has mostly stopped, it is then time to USE those roots. I have found that my plants thrive best in bloom when I switch gears and stop trying to dry them out, and instead try to keep them damp inside the core of the rootball. I finally give credit to the knuckle waterers, and concede that when in bloom, when the top roots dry out, it is time to water.


Smart Pots:
It is also clear that to completely cover container watering, we have smart pots to consider. If you use these bags correctly, by allowing air flow on all sides, including the bottom, amazing things happen. First, the rootball produced in one of these bags is far superior to anything else I have been able to produce in a hard sided container, whether they be round, octagonal, square… air pruning works. Because you get more roots and better air absorption, your plants go crazy in one of these bags if you let them. I find that I am watering every other day in 5 and 7 gallon smart bags, and the plants are taking 90% of what they would have taken if I had allowed them to dry out completely in 4 or 5 days. Water use has exploded in my tent in bloom, and by keeping up with it, reading the plants and giving them what they ask for, I have the biggest and healthiest buds that I have ever seen at this point in a grow. For flower, I find that I have to modify the lift method, and change it to not waiting for feather light as we do in veg, but in just becoming “lighter.” After two days, popping my finger in the top to the middle knuckle confirms that the top root mass has become dry, and with those two criteria met, I water to runoff. At the present time, my 6 plants are using about 25 gallons of water a week, at least twice what I have ever given my plants.


Summary:
So, no matter the type and size of container, watering needs change once bloom has started and the stretch has ended. Don’t be afraid to water more often in flower. If you keep letting her dry out, she can handle that too, because she is a weed, but if you really want to see her thrive, “use” those roots in flower, and give her all the water she can take. This doesn’t mean watering 5 times a day every day… she can’t take that much… but if you have done well, flowering roots can take a lot more water than vegging roots can. Change the equation that is valid in veg, that wilting is better than overwatering, and try instead to give water every time the top and sides dry out and the lift method tells you that “most” of the water is gone,. You WILL see the difference.
 

arteekay

Member of the Month: Feb 2016

Robo Jester

New Member
Could you suggest a progression of pots?

I would like to get maximum benefit but not repot unnecessarily.

I am REALLY beginning to think soil is going to be the way to go for me :)

Rep'd
 

Emilya

Member of the Month: Mar 2019
Could you suggest a progression of pots?

I would like to get maximum benefit but not repot unnecessarily.

I am REALLY beginning to think soil is going to be the way to go for me :)

Rep'd
I like soil Robo, a lot. Most people suggest something along the following lines, but you can mix and match a bit with what you have on hand, there are no hard and fast rules. For instance, I have a nice collection of 3q containers that I use for the 1 gallon stage. You can see in my rough schedule below of the sizes, that it really doesn't make a lot of sense to transplant more often than every couple of weeks, since the goal is to get the roots to grow during this time and fill out the space in the available container.
1" starter cupsolo/beer cup 1 gallon3 or 5 gallon7 or 10 or 15
week 1-2week 3-4week 5-6week 7-8week 9-12

It just depends on how big you want the plants to eventually get, how often you up-pot. Many of my grows have stopped at the 3 or 5 gallon stage, and of course, an AUTOflowering plant would almost have to comply to this schedule. Once the plants are well established, especially in cloth smart pots, you can be confident that your root ball will grow into the space you give it, even if you skip one of the last steps... the key is to not rush the plants if you do, and to water correctly.
 

Robo Jester

New Member
While out today I had an idea.

Could you just put each pot on a cheap old bathroom scale and keep track of the water that way.

I know the plants gain weight but not much compared to the weight of water.

That would eliminate the need to pick them up and guess :)
 

Emilya

Member of the Month: Mar 2019
While out today I had an idea.

Could you just put each pot on a cheap old bathroom scale and keep track of the water that way.

I know the plants gain weight but not much compared to the weight of water.

That would eliminate the need to pick them up and guess :)
Yes, that will work well! I used to weigh my vegging plants all the time to figure out when to water. I posted an article on here about how much water weight is in a batch of soil... it is at the bottom of my links
 

Reptilian

New Member
Once a plant has the droop will the leaves ever stand up and lay flat again? I had to an emergency flush one night a couple weeks ago. A couple got the droop really bad. Since then they have completely dried out before being watered again. But the leaves still have a heavy droop on them
 

Emilya

Member of the Month: Mar 2019
Once a plant has the droop will the leaves ever stand up and lay flat again? I had to an emergency flush one night a couple weeks ago. A couple got the droop really bad. Since then they have completely dried out before being watered again. But the leaves still have a heavy droop on them
Reptilian, it sounds like you have some other problem, and I would be glad to take a look at it and give you my advice. Do you have a journal going where I can see some pictures? If not, please start one and you will soon have more help than you can imagine. Send me a PM when you do and I will be sure to look in.

That being said, our plants droop regularly, with each night cycle. They do tuck up and rest during the dark period and then they should rise up and greet the sun in the morning. Plants that are constantly drooping are doing so because they can not develop enough transpirational water pressure in the main stalk of the plant. This of course can happen if there is not enough water, but it can also happen if you water too frequently. Plants that are rootbound will also exhibit this effect, but almost always a constant droop is going to indicate some sort of root problem. Your description of an "emergency flush" tends to make me think that you water too often, even though I know that you don't think that, since you mentioned letting them dry out completely. Let me ask this... when they are dry completely, how are you determining this? Are the containers as light as a feather? Are you using a moisture meter all the way down to the bottom?
 

Reptilian

New Member
Reptilian, it sounds like you have some other problem, and I would be glad to take a look at it and give you my advice. Do you have a journal going where I can see some pictures? If not, please start one and you will soon have more help than you can imagine. Send me a PM when you do and I will be sure to look in.

That being said, our plants droop regularly, with each night cycle. They do tuck up and rest during the dark period and then they should rise up and greet the sun in the morning. Plants that are constantly drooping are doing so because they can not develop enough transpirational water pressure in the main stalk of the plant. This of course can happen if there is not enough water, but it can also happen if you water too frequently. Plants that are rootbound will also exhibit this effect, but almost always a constant droop is going to indicate some sort of root problem. Your description of an "emergency flush" tends to make me think that you water too often, even though I know that you don't think that, since you mentioned letting them dry out completely. Let me ask this... when they are dry completely, how are you determining this? Are the containers as light as a feather? Are you using a moisture meter all the way down to the bottom?
hi emilya.i dont have a journal going. i have been tempted to start one i beleive the info and help i could get would be priceless but i am nervous about backlash that could come from it and having to much exposure on the net.in my little corner of the world they still cant decide whether to legalise or not. lots of talk and promises of it but... The help i have gotten on this site already from weaselcracker, obiwan and major pita (just to name a few) has been great. thanks again guys. i tried to upload a pic for you to look at but for some strange reason i cannot today... stumped. anyway i tell by lifting them for weight. some times i turn it upside down take it out to see the roots and watch for signs from the plants like wilting. the emergency flush only happened becasuse i accidentally grabbed the bottle of concentrated sensi grow pt b instead of the watering bottle i use and watered them with that so i realized like 2 mins later what i had done so i flushed the good so they wouldn't die from nute overload then they got really droopy. leaves on one point right to the ground i have never seem the droop so badly. i then let them go almost bone dry before giving them any more water. i will try again to put up a pic later
 

Emilya

Member of the Month: Mar 2019
hi emilya.i dont have a journal going. i have been tempted to start one i beleive the info and help i could get would be priceless but i am nervous about backlash that could come from it and having to much exposure on the net.in my little corner of the world they still cant decide whether to legalise or not. lots of talk and promises of it but... The help i have gotten on this site already from weaselcracker, obiwan and major pita (just to name a few) has been great. thanks again guys. i tried to upload a pic for you to look at but for some strange reason i cannot today... stumped. anyway i tell by lifting them for weight. some times i turn it upside down take it out to see the roots and watch for signs from the plants like wilting. the emergency flush only happened becasuse i accidentally grabbed the bottle of concentrated sensi grow pt b instead of the watering bottle i use and watered them with that so i realized like 2 mins later what i had done so i flushed the good so they wouldn't die from nute overload then they got really droopy. leaves on one point right to the ground i have never seem the droop so badly. i then let them go almost bone dry before giving them any more water. i will try again to put up a pic later
ouch... well that explains the wilt for sure. My recommendation to you is to do exactly as you have been doing, and I think on the next watering, I would give them yet another flush, and finish it up with a dosage of a root building nutrient.

when you water, the plants immediately start sucking up that water. Your plants no doubt got a very good drink of the concentrate and some of your roots and fungi were probably burnt a bit. The drooping you are seeing is shock, and as discussed above, related to the roots. Time will heal this, but mistakes do happen. The mark of a great gardener is what they do when these disasters happen, and it sounds like you are recovering as well as you can. Just be careful of trying at this point to throw the kitchen sink at this problem trying to fix it... you know the cause, and you see the effect. Don't read any more into it than this, and keep a steady keel from now on... you, and they will recover, it just takes time... time to grow back all the little fine root hairs that were wiped out with that watering.
 
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