Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Sunday - June 12, 2011

From: Norfolk, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Watering, Shade Tolerant
Title: Watering newly planted woodland plants in VA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

How frequently should newly planted, native plants, growing in wooded areas be watered? Is it better to not water at all than to use sprinklers in which case the water rarely saturates the leaf matter on the surface, much less reaches the roots of the plants? Should we not use sprinklers and water exclusively with watering cans, directly on new plants (in a effort to not encourage fungi/mold)? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Newly planted plants should be watered only enough to prevent "flagging".  That is when the plant goes limp and bends over but bounces back when watered.  If a leaf or plant part wilts, it will often recover but if dries out enough to be crackly ... it's a goner.

You will have to be the judge of how often is enough as it depends on a number of factors such as: how strong the sunlight is, how quickly the soil dries and how much rain you are getting.  Although you would think that sprinklers are the same as rain, they are not and you are wise to avoid using them, if at all practical, for the reason you are wondering about.  Too much sprinkling promotes the growth of molds, fungi and diseases.

The plants will do best if they can take the water they need from the soil.  That means that ideally, you should hand water each plant, but around its base, not directly on it.  It is a good idea to put your hand into the soil under the leaves around the plant to feel how much moisture is in the soil before watering it.  If the soil is still moist, wait until it is a little drier.  You want the plant to develop deep roots that will reach down for moisture.

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Deer resistant plants for large pot in light shade in Austin
March 30, 2007 - For an Austin yard, please suggest a shrub or a mixture of plants for a 15 gallon clay pot. The area has dappled light and deer. I would prefer a deciduous plant if possible.
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for erosion from Austin
May 03, 2014 - I live in Austin and my house backs up to Shoal Creek. I am looking for a native creeping vine or something that will grow on the shaded bank to help prevent erosion. It should be able to tolerate the...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a shady garden in Wisconsin
June 22, 2009 - I have a shady garden in southeastern Wisconsin (Milwaukee) and am interested in introducing more native plants of all sizes and heights, hopefully with lovely flowers. I would love to know what you ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a moist, shady spot in central Texas
July 08, 2016 - I am looking for a plant that will grow in almost full shade with plenty of moisture along a fence. We are looking at putting down some flagstone with possibly some moss growing in between, but we don...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover under live oaks
June 18, 2012 - I have some areas under Live Oak trees (maybe 200 sq. ft.)that remain bare, in spite of trying Habiturf. Soil is dry, poor and shallow. Can you suggest a living ground cover that would not require m...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.