Tips on hand watering

It’s springtime, and gardeners in central Florida are eagerly adding new plants to our gardens.  Yet this year’s very dry and breezy weather creates a challenge at the very critical time of establishing strong new roots.  For most of us that means we are busy with a lot of hand watering!  Did you know that how you apply water can make a difference in being most efficient for your plants?  Read on for a few tips on hand watering new plants during dry times:

*  Always direct water gently to the root surface as opposed to sprinkling water onto the foliage.  Plants take up most water in their root systems.

*  As you direct the water stream to the root zone, aim a bit outward as well to wet the surrounding soil.  This encourages the roots to reach laterally into this damp and inviting zone.

*  The type of new plant determines the frequency and amount of water needed to establish, especially in dry periods.  Very small plants such as annuals or seedlings of wildflowers or vegetables might need watering every day or even twice a day, particularly on hot sunny days. For these tiny plants, you can create a shallow soil “berm” around the plant which will retain water directly to the roots.  AFTER the plant becomes established, this berm should be smoothed out level with the surrounding soil surface.

*   Larger plants such as shrubs and trees might need daily watering at first, then tapering off after a couple of weeks. Note that some trees may need up to a year of supplemental watering to become fully established.

*   Get to “know” your plants!  At all times of the year, walk through your garden and look for signs of wilt (curling, drooping, brown tips on foliage, or dropping foliage).  And for all plants, do a bit of research to learn the best practices for growing and maintaining your chosen plants. You’ll be glad you did.

*  Remember, hand watering won’t last forever.  Summer rains are right around the garden corner!

For more information, contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at (863) 519-1041 or visit us online at The Plant Clinic is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm to answer your gardening and landscaping questions. Give us a call or email us at

If you are not in Polk County, Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic.

The Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Program is a volunteer-driven program that benefits UF/IFAS Extension and the citizens of Florida. The program extends the vision of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, all the while protecting and sustaining natural resources and environmental systems, enhancing the development of human resources, and improving the quality of human life through the development of knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and making that knowledge accessible.

This article was written by Master Gardener Volunteer Molly Griner under supervision of the Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator and Residential Horticulture Extension Agent Anne Yasalonis.

An Equal Opportunity Institution.


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Posted: May 4, 2024

Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes,
Tags: Anne Yasalonis, Ayasalonis, Central Florida, Master Gardener, Master Gardener Volunteer, Polk County, Polk County FL, Polkgardening, UF/IFAS, Watering, Watering Plants, Your Central Florida Yard Podcast

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