Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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 Watering Questions

How to care for newly transplanted Live Oak.
July 02, 2009 - I planted 3 B & B, 6" caliper live oaks in February and they lost most of their leaves during the normal time but when the new leaves grew back the amount of leaves were quite a bit less. I have th...
view the full question and answer

Sycamore leaf snowbell from Pleasanton TX
August 18, 2012 - How do you care for a sycamore leaf snowbell. Does it like sun or part shade? How much water? How often and what should it be fed. How fast or slowly does it grow? Anything you can tell me would be ap...
view the full question and answer

Failure of Bald Cypress to fully leaf out
April 14, 2008 - My family just moved to a house in Burnet County, about 7 miles south of Bertram, close to the Balcones Canyonlands NWR, with very rocky limestone soil. We bought several trees last fall, including a ...
view the full question and answer

Watering oaks in Houston, TX.
June 07, 2011 - Our yard (Real County, TX.) has many oak trees. We never water these trees, but I wonder if you recommend watering during this extreme drought. The trees look very stressed and are covered in ball m...
view the full question and answer

Sad Germanders in Johnson City Texas
September 16, 2011 - I have some grey bush germanders that never seem to do well although they did at first when I planted them four years ago. They have sun and dappled shade on the south side of the house. A friend in ...
view the full question and answer

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