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How to maintain moisture levels in pots / containers?

Hi all.  I'm assuming this question has been asked and answered many times, so feel free to point me towards any previous threads.  Otherwise, what tips do you have for moisture levels in pots / containers in the garden?

I've largely steered clear of pots in the past as I don't remember to water them (and when I've watered hanging baskets, more water ends up on me than the plants!)  In a recent GQT, Christine Walkden I think mentioined putting bits of sponge in the compost but there are water-retaining crystals I think, so any advice on cost / re-usability of these or any other tips welcomed!

Posts

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 7,540
    I'm not too good at remembering to water plants in pots and baskets either, so I also try to steer away from them, but I do like to have plants in baskets.
    I have used the water-retaining gel crystals and no doubt they do help, but you'll still have to water them regularly in hot weather.
    They cannot be reused, but a tub is pretty cheap.
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • SlumSlum Posts: 331
    I don’t use any water retaining gel as I think its use was debunked a few years ago (from memory). A good tip if you’ve let any pots dry out is to submerge them in a bucket of water until air bubbles have stopped coming to the surface. 
  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    I don't think any water retaining system is much good if they never get watered. Try to get in the habit, I find it a peaceful time and also spot any problems early. I'm not perfect either, so I made it easy, I have butts near plants that need watering and a watering can on standby, so it takes less effort, make it easy and pleasant, won't be so easy to forget doing it.
  • Thanks all - good food for thought.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,290
    Plants in containers are entirely dependent on you for both feeding and watering as well as dead-heading and checking for pests.   They can be stunning and it's a way to grow plants that aren't suited to your soil or need winter protection.

    That means you have to take responsibility, plan a watering routine and increase or decrease frequency according to whether it's cool and wet or hot and heatwave.   Best also to give one thorough watering every few days than a daily dribble.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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