Over Watering:

Over Watering Your Garden

by Nick Rogers

While the majority of gardeners are aware of the effects of under watering their plants, too few are unaware of the dangers of over watering, which is even worse and more damaging to the plant. Point of fact, the biggest reason for the death of a houseplant is because it has been over watered.

While the amount of water a plant should get depends largely on the type of plant, the season, the temperature, and your climate, the signs of an over watered plant are generally universal. The most common symptoms include rapid and gradual defoliation (where the lower leaves on the plant yellow and fall), wilting or drooping, stunted plants, spotted foliage, and gray fuzzy mould around the stem, leaves and flowers of the plant.

The symptoms above can also be indicative of other problems, so it's important to accurately determine whether you are over watering you plants. An easy way to do this is by carefully observing how frequently you water them. And another way is to check the plant's roots, as rotten roots are a strong indication of over watering.

For example, sudden and fast defoliation could also be caused by rapid changes in room temperature and possibly under watering. Gradual defoliation could be from insufficient light or fertilizer or, again, a result of under watering. Too much fertilizer or exposure to extreme cold could also cause some of the problems listed above.

As a general rule, though not without some controversy, your garden should receive about one inch per week of water. This is only a starting platform for watering your garden; it is much more effective if you personally observe your garden in order to judge how much water it needs. If you go by the one inch per week rule, remember that this amount will have to be adjusted from time to time depending on the season and seasonal needs of your plants or garden.

One of the most significant environmental factors affecting how much water your garden will need is the rate of evapotranspiration (try saying that one 3 times fast). Evapotranspiration refers to the two ways that plants lose water. Evaporation is one form of evapotranspiration and has to do with the natural loss of water into the air. Transpiration is the other way plants lose water and refers to the loss of water by the plant itself, usually through the leaves or the stem.

The best way to make sure you are properly watering your garden is to employ an ounce or two of common sense. First, instead of trying to follow a calendar that tells you when to water, examine the soil in your garden to see if it is too dry and crumbly, or where it's too wet and muddy. Checking the soil often will help you avoid both over watering and under watering. Second, water slowly. Watering too quickly causes runoff. Third, water deeply so that more than just the top layer of soil receives water. Finally, water in the morning when it's cool. Watering in the heat of the day can cause too much evaporation, and watering late at night in humid climates can bring on disease and incite fungal growth.

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