How To Water Your New Container Plants — Box and Sprout Skip to content
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How To Water Your New Container Plants

Watering your plants. The dark arts. Well, hopefully with our 5-step guide, we'll demystify the whole watering process of watering your container plants.


1. When to water?

2. How much should you water?

3. What water should you use?

4. How often should you water?

5. How to water?

1. When to water?

It's always best to water your plants in the mornings, so that when the sun rises your plants have water available to them. Mornings are better than evenings, because the temperature of the day helps to dry out any residual water, which means less slugs, snails and diseases. Watering in the evenings isn't terrible though, but you do run a bit of a higher risk.

Watering in the middle of the day isn't as good as either, though, as much of the water will be evaporated away from the surface of the soil before it's absorbed. Also the plants tend to use the water more effectively if they're watered in the cooler hours of the day.

2. How much should you water?

For watering plants in containers, a general rule of thumb is to use 10% of the volume of the pot. So if, for example, your pot is 10L, you would use 1L of water. You should feel a weight difference in the pot after watering. 

3. What water should you use?

Rainwater really is best (and free)! If you can get hold of a water butt, you can easily collect plenty of rainwater.

You can still use tap water if needed, but it likely has more mineral than most plants need.

4. How often should you water?

It's annoying to say, but each plant will have different watering needs and it will depend on a number of variables. In general container plants need watering more regularly, as there's less water available from the soil (plants with their roots in the earth can reach down and draw water from a much larger area than plants with their roots in containers).

Here are the major factors for watering frequency:

  • Season and weather - plants drink more water when the weather is hotter - so if you get a particularly sunny period, you may need to water more. Equally, if the weather is cold, your plants won't need as much.
  • Size of plant - larger plants generally need more water (the more leaves they have, or if they're growing flowers and fruit in particular).
  • Species of plant - certain species need more and some need less. Check-out the product pages to see how thirsty each plant is.
  • Soil and compost - if you're planting out into the garden, certain soils drain and dry out much quicker than others. Clay-based soils will hold much more water than sandy soils. But if you're growing in pots, and you're using a solid multi-purpose compost, the compost will retain its water well.
  • Size of the root ball in container - as your plant matures, it's root system will become a larger and larger proportion of the its container. The larger the root system in the container, the more watering it will need (as there will be less water available in the soil).

5. How to water?

It's best to water the soil as much as you can rather than the foliage. This is firstly because plants drink through their roots, not their leaves. But also because you can water on the foliage can encourage fungal problems.

Always make sure the water has somewhere to drain to, and the pots aren't sitting in puddle of water. If they are, it will mean the soil is waterlogged and no air flow is getting to the roots, which is vital for plant health.


Well, I hope that helps!

If you'd like some inspiration on small garden ideas for outdoor pots, check out this link.

Just getting started? Read this!

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