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The Proper Way To Water A Seedling In A Large, Final, Container

Emilya

Member of the Month: Mar 2019 - Grow Journal of the Month: Jan 2020
In the beginning, you may even want to start your seed directly in the final container, simply by putting it one inch deep, pointy end down. It is surprising to some how often this works, even though mother nature does it all the time. If you go this route, lightly mist the area around the seed several times a day with 5-10 good squirts, attempting to only wet down as far as that seed. Continue this until the seedling hits the surface.

Keep using the spray bottle twice a day, now attempting to give enough water to soak in to roughly 3x the plant's height, and in a circle out to 3x the plant's diameter, by at least doubling the amount of squirts you gave to the seedling. Do not soak the entire container right away.... your new seedling cant handle that much water and if the seedling starts to wander or swim in the wet soil, you are giving too much.

Water like this, with these relatively small amounts a couple of times a day, always attempting to get a good part of that water out away from the trunk of the plant, by trying to make the outside edges of that circle 3x the diameter of the plant, the wettest places in the container.... you are attempting to entice the top roots to grow out in that direction.

After the plant has gotten a couple of leaves and gotten taller, it will no longer swim around in the soil if given a lot of water, and it is time to get a bit more aggressive than the spray bottle can do... it is time to move to the watering can and a couple of cups of water at first, slowly soaking the entire top surface of the container. We aren't trying to saturate the container yet, but we do want enough water to soak into the entire surface at least 3x the height of the plant, and we want some of that water to head straight down the middle, where the roots are trying to reach the bottom. This is when it is handy to have been an outside vegetable gardener, so that you know how to test the top of the soil to see if it is moist. When you can no longer feel moisture a day or two later, water like this again.

When the plant's 3x diameter reaches the outside edges of the container, water the entire container slowly, to saturation (runoff) for the first time. It will take a week or more for the plant to use all of that water on this first round, but you don't want the plant to sit idle all of that time either, or it will stagnate. It is time to change the watering pattern again.

Every 3 days or so do a partial watering of the top of the surface, again with only enough water to soak in to the first 3 or 4 inches of soil. Two specialized sets of roots are now forming, the top spreader roots designed to choke off other plants and quickly gather up rain, and the bottom tap and feeder roots. You are attempting to water only the top spreader roots, while the bottom tap/feeder roots continue to work on the water sitting in the bottom of the container for as long as it takes to clear that first full watering.

You may have to do this secondary top watering 2 or 3 times while you wait for the container to dry out all the way to the bottom. Force the plant to grow the necessary roots to do this job by being patient, and the plant will eventually use all of that water. Once the lift method, a dip stick or a moisture meter tells you that is is finally dry down to the last inch of container, it is time to water completely again and repeat the process, while every 3 days watering the top, until the bottom finally syncs up with the top.

Every time you go through one of these cycles, the roots will get stronger and the time between complete waterings will diminish. Eventually the top and the bottom will sync up and you will not have to do the secondary watering any more, you will just be watering the whole container every 3 days or so, as the wet/dry cycle stabilizes at around 3 days.

It is important to cycle the plant like this all through veg so as to force the plants to develop a solid root ball... the roots do not grow to fill that container unless you challenge them. Once you get into bloom, it is time to change your watering strategy.

From then on your goal is not building roots, it is time to really start using the roots that you have carefully built. Your goal at the end of stretch should be to start pumping as much water/nutes into the plant as it can take. I typically will force a plant that is perfectly happy with a 3 day wet/dry cycle into an every other day watering all during bloom... and with the roots you have forced the plant to grow in Veg, they will be able to take just about as much water as they did in 3 days, if you have done this correctly.

Good Luck and Good Grows!
Emilya
 

Emilya

Member of the Month: Mar 2019 - Grow Journal of the Month: Jan 2020
yep... I am getting better and better at explaining it. I gave a little talk about it in a little grow seminar a while back... you should have seen us! Soon Ms. J. and I will have matching 420 Magazine T-shirts to wear when we do one of these ... its just a matter of time before someone gets that picture. :)
 

Emilya

Member of the Month: Mar 2019 - Grow Journal of the Month: Jan 2020
Thx for making this !!!
You are very welcome! These specialized watering instructions have been a much needed addition to my watering threads for a while and I was happy to have finally been able to concisely put my thoughts together in this document, mostly for the Auto growing crowd, but also for anyone who not knowing any better, starts their plant in way too large of a container. It is my hope that by reading this thread, I can save gardens that don't even know they are in trouble yet.
 

Emilya

Member of the Month: Mar 2019 - Grow Journal of the Month: Jan 2020
At the stage where youre only spraying in a ring If the soil is still damp under the top layer from the prior watering would you skip a the next one or strictly adhere to watering twice daily ?
Hi 6thsense! no... the twice a day watering is not as much for water volume as it is frequency, giving the new emerging roots something to chase after. If you are finding it too moist, I would simply spray less... but question yourself as to whether you as a human being standing where you are, can really determine what is too damp, or just enough. The goal as you are starting out this little plant is not to immediately establish a wet dry cycle, forcing it to go dry between applications... it is to provide what the sprig needs but mostly to get it to chase the water to the edges and to the bottom of the container. I have never felt an urge to see if the soil is still moist under the surface a half a day after spraying... I just spray anyway, still imagining how much water it takes to only soak the first several inches of soil. If on one of my sprayings I realized that I have totally saturated the soil and am producing runoff.... I would have to realize that although I might be using a spray bottle, I am probably spraying way too much. If your plant is showing you noticeable growth each day, it is using the water, but in these early stages, go lightly... 3-5 squirts should be enough.
 
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6thsense

Well-Known Member
Hi 6thsense! no... the twice a day watering is not as much for water volume as it is frequency, giving the new emerging roots something to chase after. If you are finding it too moist, I would simply spray less... but question yourself as to whether you as a human being standing where you are, can really determine what is too damp, or just enough. The goal as you are starting out this little plant is not to immediately establish a wet dry cycle, forcing it to go dry between applications... it is to provide what the sprig needs but mostly to get it to chase the water to the edges and to the bottom of the container. I have never felt an urge to see if the soil is still moist under the surface a half a day after spraying... I just spray anyway, still imagining how much water it takes to only soak the first several inches of soil. If on one of my spraying I realized that I have totally saturated the soil and am producing runoff.... I would have to realize that although I might be using a spray bottle, I am probably spraying way too much. If your plant is showing you noticeable growth each day, it is using the water, but in these early stages, go lightly... 3-5 squirts should be enough.
Makes sense . Thx for the quick response this advice is much appreciated.
 

Kinghummingbird

Active Member
In the beginning, you may even want to start your seed directly in the final container, simply by putting it one inch deep, pointy end down. It is surprising to some how often this works, even though mother nature does it all the time. If you go this route, lightly mist the area around the seed several times a day with 5-10 good squirts, attempting to only wet down as far as that seed. Continue this until the seedling hits the surface.

Keep using the spray bottle twice a day, now attempting to give enough water to soak in to roughly 3x the plant's height, and in a circle out to 3x the plant's diameter, by at least doubling the amount of squirts you gave to the seedling. Do not soak the entire container right away.... your new seedling cant handle that much water and if the seedling starts to wander or swim in the wet soil, you are giving too much.

Water like this, with these relatively small amounts a couple of times a day, always attempting to get a good part of that water out away from the trunk of the plant, by trying to make the outside edges of that circle 3x the diameter of the plant, the wettest places in the container.... you are attempting to entice the top roots to grow out in that direction.

After the plant has gotten a couple of leaves and gotten taller, it will no longer swim around in the soil if given a lot of water, and it is time to get a bit more aggressive than the spray bottle can do... it is time to move to the watering can and a couple of cups of water at first, slowly soaking the entire top surface of the container. We aren't trying to saturate the container yet, but we do want enough water to soak into the entire surface at least 3x the height of the plant, and we want some of that water to head straight down the middle, where the roots are trying to reach the bottom. This is when it is handy to have been an outside vegetable gardener, so that you know how to test the top of the soil to see if it is moist. When you can no longer feel moisture a day or two later, water like this again.

When the plant's 3x diameter reaches the outside edges of the container, water the entire container slowly, to saturation (runoff) for the first time. It will take a week or more for the plant to use all of that water on this first round, but you don't want the plant to sit idle all of that time either, or it will stagnate. It is time to change the watering pattern again.

Every 3 days or so do a partial watering of the top of the surface, again with only enough water to soak in to the first 3 or 4 inches of soil. Two specialized sets of roots are now forming, the top spreader roots designed to choke off other plants and quickly gather up rain, and the bottom tap and feeder roots. You are attempting to water only the top spreader roots, while the bottom tap/feeder roots continue to work on the water sitting in the bottom of the container for as long as it takes to clear that first full watering.

You may have to do this secondary top watering 2 or 3 times while you wait for the container to dry out all the way to the bottom. Force the plant to grow the necessary roots to do this job by being patient, and the plant will eventually use all of that water. Once the lift method, a dip stick or a moisture meter tells you that is is finally dry down to the last inch of container, it is time to water completely again and repeat the process, while every 3 days watering the top, until the bottom finally syncs up with the top.

Every time you go through one of these cycles, the roots will get stronger and the time between complete waterings will diminish. Eventually the top and the bottom will sync up and you will not have to do the secondary watering any more, you will just be watering the whole container every 3 days or so, as the wet/dry cycle stabilizes at around 3 days.

It is important to cycle the plant like this all through veg so as to force the plants to develop a solid root ball... the roots do not grow to fill that container unless you challenge them. Once you get into bloom, it is time to change your watering strategy.

From then on your goal is not building roots, it is time to really start using the roots that you have carefully built. Your goal at the end of stretch should be to start pumping as much water/nutes into the plant as it can take. I typically will force a plant that is perfectly happy with a 3 day wet/dry cycle into an every other day watering all during bloom... and with the roots you have forced the plant to grow in Veg, they will be able to take just about as much water as they did in 3 days, if you have done this correctly.

Good Luck and Good Grows!
Emilya
Bingo Bango Bongo! All I had to do was dig a bit. Bookmarked. All hail the Queen!
 

briefbriefs

Active Member
Hi Emilya! I've been reading your past posts/advice for a few days now and i wanna thank you so much for giving so much help to the community. I have a question in regards to watering and my first grow. I'll give some details first:
  • Shes a 11 day old (from seed) Zamaldelica Express (auto) from Night Owl Seeds
  • she is a sativa dom strain in a 3 Gal smartpot of Fox Farms Happy Frog & FF Ocean Forest
  • the tent is 2ftx2.5ftx6ft.
  • the light is a 225 HLG at 41" from the top of the canopy. its delivering about 22.8k lux at the top and 20k at the bottom of the plant.
  • She has a humidifier next to her and a small fan blowing a very gentle breeze on her. Just enough to move her leaves a little bit.
  • Tent temps are usually at 72F - 75F with 68%-73% humidity. (im trying to follow the VPD chart. my laser thermometer is arriving today YAY so i'll be able to take leaf surface temps)
However, despite the generally optimal environment -- she's been showing more and more signs of heat stress (i think?) over the past few days. Here is a picture from a few minutes ago...


She looks happy and healthy (i planted her off center in the pot, so im trying to train her gently back towards center...sigh) but the edges of her leaves are doing funky things. Do you think this could be a matter of heat stress or perhaps a watering issue?

My watering history is:
  • i watered the soil thoroughly (till run-off) two days after she popped up over the soil (apr 18). I watered the outsides of the pot and worked my way inward, leaving about a 2" radius of un-watered soil around her.
  • On the 23rd of April i watered her again, about a quart of water this time, as the top of the soil was dry and i regrettably still did the finger test.
  • On the 25th I gave her 10oz of water.
  • On the 26th (yesterday) i gave her 12oz of water.
Needless to say....im really screwing up the whole watering thing. I'm sorry. What signs will she give me to let me know she needs water? Or is the leaf-curl perhaps heat related after all? Any help at all you could give me would be amazing...I really wanna do this right.

Thank you!
 
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Emilya

Member of the Month: Mar 2019 - Grow Journal of the Month: Jan 2020
its not heat stress you are dealing with, it is light stress. That is way too much light for a plant of that size. Try 15k max and work your way up from there as the plants show they can handle it. Everything else looks good. Check out in my links a study I did on my CREE COB light array... in there is a chart that shows how much light the plants need at each stage.
 

briefbriefs

Active Member
its not heat stress you are dealing with, it is light stress. That is way too much light for a plant of that size. Try 15k max and work your way up from there as the plants show they can handle it. Everything else looks good. Check out in my links a study I did on my CREE COB light array... in there is a chart that shows how much light the plants need at each stage.
oh hell yes thank you!! i'll sit and ready that study right now. Also i got the infrared thermometer a couple of hours after my post and lo-and-behold, although my environmental temp said it was 71F, the leaf surface temps were at 90F. Jesus, i was freaking BAKING her. I since turned off my ceramic heat lamp and although the environmental temp says its 68F, the leaf temps are now dropping to a more reasonable 80F. Now with the heat lamp off, her leaves went from STIFF to fairly droopy lol -- i wonder if she was trying super hard to transpire water and now with less heat she's like "oh thank fucking GOD, now we're thirsty".
 

briefbriefs

Active Member
its not heat stress you are dealing with, it is light stress. That is way too much light for a plant of that size. Try 15k max and work your way up from there as the plants show they can handle it. Everything else looks good. Check out in my links a study I did on my CREE COB light array... in there is a chart that shows how much light the plants need at each stage.
Okay, so an update...in case anyone is reading this:
I ended up readjusting my tent settings and i am now getting good readings on my leaf surface temps (even though the environmental temp doesn't fall in line with VPD -- its the leaf surface temp you care about.)

LED distance from plant: WAS --> 41". NOW --> 35" and dimmed my light
Lux: WAS --> 22.8K @ top / 20K @ bottom. NOW --> 17K @ top / 15.5K @ bottom
Leaf surface temp: WAS --> 88F @ top / 79F @ bottom. NOW --> 79F @ top / 75F @ bottom


I think dimming the light and bringing it closer (so i can keep the plant's environment at a reasonable temp) was a great call on your behalf @Emilya . Thank you so very much for helping me with this issue. I'm so excited to be joining this community!
 

Kushahn

Well-Known Member
Glad to help out where I can... just trying to help out people as I wished to be when I was new. :circle-of-love:
Well your definately doing a great job of that Emilya coming from a 2 grow newbie who has been sitting in the background reading lots of stuff on this site. am very intriqued by the level of knowledge and almost professor of sorts that yourself and a lot other people here have. mind boggling really. waiting on a new led to arrive but deliveries from suppliers her in Australia are pretty slow atm. anyways when it does my 3rd grow will be 2xBruce Banner, 2xSkywaker OG and 2xBlack Widow. Will be doing a journal on it(god help me) are u ok if i tag u when i start for some much needed help.

Cheers mate.
 

Emilya

Member of the Month: Mar 2019 - Grow Journal of the Month: Jan 2020
Well your definately doing a great job of that Emilya coming from a 2 grow newbie who has been sitting in the background reading lots of stuff on this site. am very intriqued by the level of knowledge and almost professor of sorts that yourself and a lot other people here have. mind boggling really. waiting on a new led to arrive but deliveries from suppliers her in Australia are pretty slow atm. anyways when it does my 3rd grow will be 2xBruce Banner, 2xSkywaker OG and 2xBlack Widow. Will be doing a journal on it(god help me) are u ok if i tag u when i start for some much needed help.

Cheers mate.
Thank you for the kind words and again, I am just glad to be one part of this awesome forum. Good luck on your 3rd, you know they say that one is the charm, and I would be honored to tag along when you get going. Looking forward to the show!
--Em
 

Matto835

Member
In the beginning, you may even want to start your seed directly in the final container, simply by putting it one inch deep, pointy end down. It is surprising to some how often this works, even though mother nature does it all the time. If you go this route, lightly mist the area around the seed several times a day with 5-10 good squirts, attempting to only wet down as far as that seed. Continue this until the seedling hits the surface.

Keep using the spray bottle twice a day, now attempting to give enough water to soak in to roughly 3x the plant's height, and in a circle out to 3x the plant's diameter, by at least doubling the amount of squirts you gave to the seedling. Do not soak the entire container right away.... your new seedling cant handle that much water and if the seedling starts to wander or swim in the wet soil, you are giving too much.

Water like this, with these relatively small amounts a couple of times a day, always attempting to get a good part of that water out away from the trunk of the plant, by trying to make the outside edges of that circle 3x the diameter of the plant, the wettest places in the container.... you are attempting to entice the top roots to grow out in that direction.

After the plant has gotten a couple of leaves and gotten taller, it will no longer swim around in the soil if given a lot of water, and it is time to get a bit more aggressive than the spray bottle can do... it is time to move to the watering can and a couple of cups of water at first, slowly soaking the entire top surface of the container. We aren't trying to saturate the container yet, but we do want enough water to soak into the entire surface at least 3x the height of the plant, and we want some of that water to head straight down the middle, where the roots are trying to reach the bottom. This is when it is handy to have been an outside vegetable gardener, so that you know how to test the top of the soil to see if it is moist. When you can no longer feel moisture a day or two later, water like this again.

When the plant's 3x diameter reaches the outside edges of the container, water the entire container slowly, to saturation (runoff) for the first time. It will take a week or more for the plant to use all of that water on this first round, but you don't want the plant to sit idle all of that time either, or it will stagnate. It is time to change the watering pattern again.

Every 3 days or so do a partial watering of the top of the surface, again with only enough water to soak in to the first 3 or 4 inches of soil. Two specialized sets of roots are now forming, the top spreader roots designed to choke off other plants and quickly gather up rain, and the bottom tap and feeder roots. You are attempting to water only the top spreader roots, while the bottom tap/feeder roots continue to work on the water sitting in the bottom of the container for as long as it takes to clear that first full watering.

You may have to do this secondary top watering 2 or 3 times while you wait for the container to dry out all the way to the bottom. Force the plant to grow the necessary roots to do this job by being patient, and the plant will eventually use all of that water. Once the lift method, a dip stick or a moisture meter tells you that is is finally dry down to the last inch of container, it is time to water completely again and repeat the process, while every 3 days watering the top, until the bottom finally syncs up with the top.

Every time you go through one of these cycles, the roots will get stronger and the time between complete waterings will diminish. Eventually the top and the bottom will sync up and you will not have to do the secondary watering any more, you will just be watering the whole container every 3 days or so, as the wet/dry cycle stabilizes at around 3 days.

It is important to cycle the plant like this all through veg so as to force the plants to develop a solid root ball... the roots do not grow to fill that container unless you challenge them. Once you get into bloom, it is time to change your watering strategy.

From then on your goal is not building roots, it is time to really start using the roots that you have carefully built. Your goal at the end of stretch should be to start pumping as much water/nutes into the plant as it can take. I typically will force a plant that is perfectly happy with a 3 day wet/dry cycle into an every other day watering all during bloom... and with the roots you have forced the plant to grow in Veg, they will be able to take just about as much water as they did in 3 days, if you have done this correctly.

Good Luck and Good Grows!
Emilya
So I have been following your advice and the plants seem to be in good shape, I'm just wondering does this method work for auto flowering or is it only for photos? Seeing as the growth of autos go at a rapid rate.
 
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