Watering New Smaller Plants

Watering Your New Smaller Plants During the Establishment Period in the Northeast Florida Landscape


  Just like installation practices can differ when installing small and large container plants, proper watering techniques during the establishment
period will vary depending on the size of the plant you purchased and installed. This guide is to help with watering your new small plants after being planted into the landscape.

Small is a relative term, so to define it here for our purposes, I
will say anything small enough for you to fit it in your car and take it home with you falls into this category.  If transporting this plant home meant that it had to go into the back of a truck bed or trailer to fit or needed the entire back of the SUV or mini van, these instructions are NOT FOR YOU!

Help with establishing larger Shrubs and Trees Here 


How Much Water do My New

Smaller Plants Need ?

How much water your new plants need can be affected by allot of
different factors. Some plantings may need water every day while others will have consistently moist soil for days and need watering less frequently maybe only a few times per week. Lets take a quick look at some of those things that affect a plants need for water.

Things That INCREASE

A Plants Need For Supplemental Irrigation

  • High water needs plant selections
  • Sandy soils
  • Well draining soils like decorative containers or raised bed areas
  • Sloping ground
  • Dry weather or prolonged periods of drought
  • Sunny days
  • Plants located with a full sun or afternoon sun exposure
  • Windy days
  • Hot days ( temperatures above 70 degrees )
  • Planting in the summer or in a greenhouse ( temperatures above 90 on a continual basis)
  • Large container sizes ( 15 gallon nursery pots or larger)

Things That DECREASE

A Plants Needs For Supplemental Irrigation

  • Low water need plant selections
  • Heavy clay soils
  • drought tolerant plant selections
  • Poorly drained planting locations
  • Flat ground with no visible slope
  • Rainy weather
  • Cloudy or overcast days
  • Calm days with little or no wind movement
  • Cooler temperatures ( 70 degrees and lower)
  • Planting in the fall and winter months
  • Smaller sized plantings ( 7 gallon container pot sizes and smaller)
  • Mulch over the roots system of the plant under the foliage

With all those variables, how do you know when your newly installed
plant is ready to be watered again? The answer may be simpler than you think!

* WHEN the top two inches of soil
underneath the mulch
 is dry to the touch


* IF the top two inches of soil is still wet from watering the day before,



 As a general guide, in the Northeast Florida landscape, daily
watering is needed for the first two weeks, then every other day for the next two weeks followed by twice a week after that time or once to twice a week as soon as the plant shows visible signs of new foliage growth.

A few tips to remember when watering your small plants in Northeast Florida’s gardens and Landscapes

  • Don’t rely on irrigation systems designed to water your lawns for newly
    planted flowers, shrubs and trees. Lawn irrigation only waters the top two to three inches of soil where the grass roots are, and your plants entire root system as well as the soil that surrounds it will need to be watered to the depth that it was planted.
    The best way to ensure your new plantings are getting adequate water is to hand water with a hose.
  • Water early in the morning instead of late at night to prevent root rot and
    foliage fungus problems. Plants will do better if the foliage and roots do not stay wet at night consistently.
  • Mulch your newly planted items to reduce water loss from evaporation and
    prevent weed growth that will compete with your plant for water and nutrients.