Test plant soil for moisture before watering during winter

December tends to be a very busy month, which means some things, like indoor plants, can get neglected. The most common problem is in the amount of water a plant receives.

December tends to be a very busy month, which means some things, like indoor plants, can get neglected. The most common problem is in the amount of water a plant receives.

Give the plant too little water and it will wilt. The same can be said if the plant receives too much water. More plants die from being overwatered than under watered.

A simple solution to watering problems is to test the soil before watering the plant. This does not mean looking at the soil or touching the top.

It means sticking a finger or moisture monitor into the soil at a depth greater than 1 inch (2.5 cm) and testing for moisture.

Pots that contain soil that is moist to the touch should not be watered. If in doubt about how wet the soil is, remove a small portion of soil, and roll it between fingers and thumb. Wet or moist soil will stick together while dry soil will flake.

Moisture meters are an alternative to the touch system. Be sure to read the instructions and follow them to get correct readings.

In dry soil, the few water particles that are available are bound to soil particles and not available to plant roots.

Once the plant has used up its store of moisture, the plant cells become soft, the stems sag and leaves wilt.

Soil that contains too much water contains too little oxygen, which is needed for the roots to absorb moisture. As a result, plant cells become soft, the stems sag and leaves wilt.

Plants that are overwatered often die but it is possible to save the plant by getting oxygen into the soil. Start by draining excess water from the pot and saucer. Then repot the plant if possible.

Repotting the plant using dry soil will help move excess moisture away from the roots. Repotting can be as simple as placing the root ball intact into a larger pot with dry soil.

It can also involve removing excess wet soil from the rootball and replacing it with dry soil. The goal for both of these methods is to wick the wet soil away from the roots, allowing for air pockets to form between soil particles.

Once the repotting is completed, place the plant in a cool area where it will not be in direct sunlight or heat, thus slowing down the transpiration rate until the soil is drier and has room for air particles.

Take the following into consideration when watering plants: the size of plant compared to the pot, type of soil and the time of year.

Pots that are filled with roots use more moisture and there is rarely an excess amount of moisture. Pots with few roots cannot absorb all the moisture the soil can hold and once the soil becomes saturated, it is hard to dry it out.

Soil that is loose with large pores drains quickly after watering and is less likely to become waterlogged than heavy soils with small air pockets.

During the winter months when there are fewer hours of daylight, plants become dormant.

They live but do not put out many if any new growth.

Transpiration is at a minimum, as is water intake.

Plants make great additions to the home and office.

Take time to check the soil carefully before watering the plant.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist who lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at www.igardencanada.com or your_garden@hotmail.com

Just Posted

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen received his COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at Jackson’s Pharmacy in Innisfail. (Devin Creeshen Twitter photo)
COVID-19: Most local MLAs have received their first vaccine shot

Alberta’s NDP is encouraging all MLAs to get vaccinated and publicly promote… Continue reading

Alberta continues to wrestle with high COVID-19 case numbers. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer up to 858 active cases of COVID-19

Province reports additional 1,799 cases of the virus

Bo's Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening.
(Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

The Bowden Institution medium security facility near Bowden has 15 active COVID-19 cases. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
15 active COVID-19 cases at Bowden prison

Bowden Institution has had 36 positive cases this year with 21 recovered and no deaths

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and several members of city council helped kick off the spring Green Deer cleanup campaign on Wednesday. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Red Deer city councillors launch spring Green Deer campaign

Volunteers are needed to keep the city looking good

Jewish nationalist demonstrators look at a barrage of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip toward central Israel, in the Israeli town of Ramla, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The protesters had gathered in an attempted show of strength in a predominantly Arab neighborhood. (AP Photo/Heidi Levine)
Israel steps up Gaza offensive, kills senior Hamas figures

Israel steps up Gaza offensive, kills senior Hamas figures

In this April 20, 2021, photo, House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks to reporters following a GOP meeting at the Capitol in Washington. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has set a Wednesday vote for removing Cheney from her No. 3 Republican leadership post after Cheney repeatedly challenged former President Donald Trump over his claims of widespread voting fraud and his role in encouraging supporters' Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
GOP dumps defiant Trump critic Cheney from top House post

GOP dumps defiant Trump critic Cheney from top House post

A Colonial Pipeline station is seen, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Smyrna, Ga., near Atlanta. Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, halted operations last week after revealing a cyberattack that it said had affected some of its systems. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Colonial Pipeline restarts operations days after major hack

Colonial Pipeline restarts operations days after major hack

Vaccines, oil prices and Husky takeover boost Cenovus outlook, says CEO Alex Pourbaix

Vaccines, oil prices and Husky takeover boost Cenovus outlook, says CEO Alex Pourbaix

This photo taken in October 2016 shows an aboveground section of Enbridge's Line 5 at the Mackinaw City, Mich., pump station. Business leaders in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin have joined forces with their Canadian counterparts in the legal fight over the Line 5 pipeline. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/John Flesher
Business leaders in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin urge court to keep Line 5 operating

Business leaders in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin urge court to keep Line 5 operating

This June 2020 photo, shot from a television screen provided by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy shows damage to anchor support EP-17-1 on the east leg of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline within the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy via AP
Quebec’s location and energy alternatives give it options if Line 5 closes: expert

Quebec’s location and energy alternatives give it options if Line 5 closes: expert

Tanker trucks are parked near the entrance of Colonial Pipeline Company Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Carlson
Cybersecurity experts say Canadian businesses can learn from U.S. pipeline attack

Cybersecurity experts say Canadian businesses can learn from U.S. pipeline attack

A man works in the broadcast centre at the TMX Group Ltd. in Toronto, on May 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
Energy helps to cushion inflation worries as TSX drops less than U.S. markets

Energy helps to cushion inflation worries as TSX drops less than U.S. markets

Most Read