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Soak your pots in summer!

Catherine Stewart

Catherine Stewart

December 13, 2013

watering salvia

Potted plants – THOROUGH WATERING versus SOAKING. See my experiment.

watering salviaI wanted to see the difference between what I thought was a thorough watering of an outside potted plant in a 150mm (6″) pot, and a good, long submersion soak.

The pot contains a beautiful dark purple Salvia hybrid that’s grown nicely into the pot. I was given it last week but I haven’t yet had a chance to plant out. I’ve been watering it every day so although it’s been hot, I thought it was being well-cared for.

First I watered the Salvia outside with a watering can, gently filling the space at the top of the pot quite a few times with a watering can, until there was lots of water running out the bottom. Pretty much what you’d do every day when you thought you were giving an outside potted plant a ‘thorough watering’.

weighing salviaThen I weighed it – 973 grams.

Next I soaked it in my sink, filling it deep enough so that the whole pot could be submerged. It quickly floated on to its side so I wedged it upright with some glass bowls.

I left it for 3 hours, until it would stand upright on the bottom of the sink, then let it drain for another 30 minutes.

Then I weighed it – 1,176 grams.

So that pot is now holding an extra 203 grams of water than it did before, which shows how a potted root ball can develop dry, hard-to-rewet sections, even when you think you’re giving your plant plenty of regular TLC.


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Helen Young
10 years ago

Great experiment and very useful to know. It’s common for people to say they have watered a plant dutifully and yet it has all the symptoms of water stress. It’s a good demonstration.