Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cactus Watering Notes

     You all know about WHEN to water, I've covered that previously, but here are some tips for when you DO water. First off, there are two types of watering; top watering and bottom watering.
     When you top water, you pour your water or nutrient solution over the plants down onto the soil. When you bottom water, you submerge the plant, container, soil and all, into the water or nutrient solution, and wait until the soil is saturated.
     I used to be a die-hard bottom-waterer...But recently I have become tired of the excessive time consumed in waiting till the soil is saturated, waiting for the container to drain of excess water/nutrient solution, etc.
     Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of putting your container in the nutrient solution and letting it sit until the soil is saturated; set and forget :) . However, when you have close to 100 said containers, this can become time consuming...Here enters top watering.
     I have recently been toying around with top watering, and love its speed and ease (it can take a hell of a long time for a saturated pot to drain off its excess water)..There are some pointers though, with the health of your cacti in mind.
     First, water a little bit at first; even without a high-peat soil, when it is getting near dry, if you administer a large amount of water at once, most of it will roll right off the top, down the sides, and out the bottom. A minute or two after your initial watering, water again, and you will notice this watering has much greater penetration. Let sit for a minute or two, and try to water again; if almost as soon as you start pouring you notice water trickling out of the bottom of your container, you are done watering.
     This has proven to me to be much quicker than bottom watering, and better all around in my opinion; I don't have to fuss around making sure my planting containers have the proper sized holes to keep in soil and yet still let excess water out; by observing the soil and the drainage from the bottom of the container during watering, and following the above procedures, it isn't a very big concern because if done right there isn't much runoff and waste.
     Just one note though, If you are using a fertilizer solution when top-watering, you should probably spray your plants afterwards with a spray bottle (filled with pure water) just to be sure your cacti aren't burned.

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