Moisture Meters: How to Utilize this ‘Secret Weapon’
Ever ask yourself – “Why did that plant die”? or “Why does that plant look so bad?” Believe it or not, the most frequent cause is either over or under watering a plant. It’s hard to know how much to water a plant if you don’t know how wet or dry the soil is. Sticking your finger into the dirt is one way of determining the moisture content, but I have a much cleaner, faster and accurate method to share with you…..
It’s a moisture meter. These simple, inexpensive, measuring devices consist of a metal probe on one end and a small meter on the other. When you insert the probe into the soil it immediately measures the moisture content and registers it on the dial readout. It is easy to read and tells you if the soil is dry, moist or wet.
How it works. Insert the probe about 4 – 6 inches into the soil in the root zone of the plant and read the results on the dial. Move the probe to another area on the same plant in order to gain a true picture of the soil moisture. To measure a newly planted shrub insert the probe close to the base of the plant – usually within 3-5 inches of the stem. An established plant that has been either potted or planted for some time will have a larger root system so you can measure further out from the main stem to get an accurate reading. Read the scale to find what your moisture level is and then water accordingly. Only one moisture meter is necessary to check all of your plants – don’t leave it in the plant or outside in the rain or direct sunlight.
Not all plants are alike. If you are unsure as to how much water a particular plant needs you can find the answer quickly by searching the internet for information on the plant – or call one of us at The Home and Garden Center and we can help you.
No more guess work is necessary when watering either houseplants or shrubs in your flower beds. Not all plants like the same amount of water – some like it on the dry side, while others require a consistently wet soil. By using a moisture meter you can accurately measure individual plants and help maintain the correct water level for all plants.
Healthier plants perform to their fullest and providing the right amount of water at the right time is very important to their health. Lack of water creates extra stress for the plant making it more susceptible to disease. It can cause plants to wilt, with their leaves curling and dropping off. Dry conditions or infrequent watering can result in plants losing their lustrous color, they fade to a duller shade of green. On the opposite end of the scale too much water can drown a plant and cause its roots to starve for oxygen.
Other watering tips:
- Make sure to use mulch in your flower beds to help not only block weed growth but to help prevent evaporation of moisture from your soil.
- Install drip irrigation that waters the root zone of each plant – it is very efficient and cost effective.
- Water the soil not the leaves. Water droplets can act like mini-magnifying glasses and burn your plant.
- Don’t rely on rain to have watered your plants sufficiently, check anyhow. Sometimes a plant’s foliage and flowers can act like an umbrella and actually keep water from getting to your soil.
- Don’t let your soil dry out completely between watering. Extremely dry soil won’t absorb water – it seems to repel water. A good soaking is required to bring the soil back to the correct moisture content.