Watering plants may seem like a simple task, but it can be very difficult. It's important to carefully determine when plants need to be watered and to provide the right amount. By keeping a close eye for signs of dehydration and overwatering, you can carefully manage your plants to ensure that they receive the optimum amount of water.
Determine if the plant needs to be watered. For indoor plants, insert your finger into the soil to a depth of about one inch. Feel if the soil is moist or dry. If it is dry, water the plant. With outdoor plants, check the moisture of the soil at the proper rooting depth. As a general rule, this depth is about 12 inches for annuals, lawns and vegetables, 12 to 24 inches for perennials and shrubs and 28 to 36 inches for trees. Insert a soil probe into the soil, and note the depth at which it encounters resistance. This is the point where the soil is dry.
Use a watering can for indoor or potted outdoor plants and a hose for an outdoor garden. Apply only enough water to dampen the soil to the desired depth, mentioned in Step 1. Overwatering can be as harmful as dehydration.
Keep an eye on the plants for signs of both overwatering and dehydration, and adjust as needed. Dehydrated plants will experience slow growth and have leaves that are brown and dried or curled and yellow. The leaves and flowers of the plant may begin to drop prematurely. Plants that are overwatered may have moldy flowers, mushy and odorous roots and soft brown spots on the leaves.