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Watering pots

Hi all,

I have just potted 2 blueberries and one shrub rose into clay pots, adding a layer of grit at the top of each to guard against vine weevil, they also look very good with the grit.

I Wanted to know is there a way of telling if they need water without letting them become stressed as it's going to be a hassle each time removing grit to feel the compost?

I have a cheap wilko moisture probe but not sure how reliable these are.  Would saucers do, although the roots aren't yet at the very bottom of the pots so not sure how they'd take up water yet?

Thanks in advance...


  • Plants in containers need watering everyday as they can't take in any moisture from the ground.

    Nearly everything I have is in a pot and they get a good watering every morning.

     Fill the pot to the brim, let it soak in then fill it up again.

    Some plants are thirstier than others so may even benefit from being watered twice a day in extremely hot weather. 

    Just make sure your pots have sufficient drainage image

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,009

    If it's very dry where you are, Pierre, it might be worth changing your clay pots to glazed ones as moisture evaporates from clay pots quicker. 

    MrsF is right - anything in a pot needs more attention and watering is something you'll have to get used to doing regularly if you can't put the plants in the ground. Sharp drainage, moisture retentive soil, and lots of watering so they they don't get dehydrated, as it's hard to get them rehydrated once that happens.

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 22,659

    I wonder where you are, Pierre, you have a French name. I live in Dordogne. I have roses and blueberries in pots and I give them a good soak every other day, but not in winter when they are dormant. I water in the evening as it can get hot here in the day, then the plants get a chance to soak up the water at night.

    Blueberries are acid loving so mine are planted in ericaceous compost and I only water them with rain water. Our tap water is hard and they don't like it.

    As they are in pots, not in the ground, I feed them more often than usual, especially the roses which can be greedy plants. I feed roses in pots with rose fertiliser every 6 weeks through the growing season. I feed the blueberries with fertiliser for acid loving plants, such as azaleas.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Allotment BoyAllotment Boy Posts: 6,431

    Pierre if you have saucers at the base water will be drawn up by capillary action so the roots don't need to be at the bottom. Good advice above about regular watering. You can get drip feed systems connected to a water butt if you are too busy/ unable to do it  with a can yourself. 

    AB Still learning

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700

    Container gardening can be a challenge, but watering every day doesn't always apply. You need to look at the area you place your pots. Whether there are trees and shrubs overhead. Wind too. Grouping pots tightly together conserves watering but also the choice of plants and soils/composts used. But generally, water daily if temperatures are above 25c. Below that, some shrubs will be fine with weekly watering if no rain. In winter time between December to late February, no watering for most shrubs.

  • Thanks all for your replies - very grateful!

    Lizzie - whilst my parentage is French in part, I'm in the East rarely the balmy conditions that you doubtless experience in that part of France.    I did indeed pot the Vaccinium into Ericaceous.  I haven't fed them though - will the little granules that they were sold with in the nursery plastic pot be sufficient (a few of those remain)?

    Also, I was under the impression that trees and shrubs shouldn't be fed from August onwards, but not sure this applies strictly to container-grown specimens, or does it?    I have continuous release ericaceous granules (miracle gro) that have given great results on my camellia, rhododendrons etc. earlier in the year, so I guess the blueberries would benefit from this next season?

    Iain - good call re: the capillary action, I didn't realise this.   No need to ever water from above then via this method, though does it take into account evaporation, though I suppose not so much of an issue when watering it morning or evening?    Presumably just a case of keeping it topped up from March to November or so?

    Borderline - much appreciated, though I gather blueberries are thirsty so are they exempt from the once a week rule?   They currently enjoy a south facing aspect relatively sheltered from the wind.  No trees and shrubs overhead.  

    Thanks again, all.

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 22,659

    I would use the Miracle Gro that you use on the Camellias. No need to feed the blueberries now. I fed my roses earlier this month as they will still produce flowers, but that is probably the last time I'll feed them this year.

    My blueberries are in plant saucers, I water on top until the saucers are full, then 2 days later. It can get pretty hot here in summer. So I'm not an expert on watering in England. I imagine you would water less often in the wetter west.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700

    I've never grown Blueberries, but from what I have heard, they sholdn't need daily watering unless it's over 25c. Below that, in fair part cloudy weather in summer, I would collect rain water and water every 3 days in a south facing aspect. Don't water little and often. Water thoroughly and slowly to train roots to go downwards. This will help in hotter and sunny conditions. If you put plant saucers like Busy-Lizzie, that is the best way to train them downwards and they will be able to fend for themselves if you miss a day or two from watering.

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