If you need to water potted plants during a vacation, here’s a basic setup which worked for me.
You first need a timer to let it know when you want the water turned on and for how long. I used the Orbit Timer – it’s the basic unit. It uses 2 AA batteries and worked well for my last vacation. I’d suggest testing it ahead of time so that you get the amount of water you need for your plants.
You can see most of the pots I wanted to water, plus there are a few which are hidden that it reached also. I just moved all my pots to within range and everything was alive when I came back. You can use whatever sprinkler you have on hand.
Note – I let Mother Nature take care of my lawn and other plants, although I do water ahead of my vacation if needed.
One of the reasons schools and individuals have trouble maintaining their gardens is that they put the garden in, water the plants and then assume the plants will thrive on their own. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work and the plants wither.
In general, I either recommend a Timer system for schools or a dedicated volunteer who will water on a regular basis. Depending on rain, I’d recommend at least once or twice a week to keep plants happy that first year. The problem with volunteers is that they come and go and at some point the garden is on it’s own. This is a good reason to use natives, but still watering the first season is critical.
Jesse Gilbertson, Horticulture Director for U City in Bloom, doesn’t put in any new garden without a water source. Find money to get irrigation – at least a spigot. They do have a water “truck” to water containers.
Scott Woodury of Shaw Nature Reserve says, “Establishment watering is critical for any planting. The establishment period might be three months long, it might be the entire growing season….let’s call it the first growing season.”
I personally use a timer on my hose with a sprinkler. It’s an inexpensive solution and only puts down the amount of water which is needed.
The plant sales are starting up again and people are encouraged to plant now with the thought that plants will establish roots and be prepared for great spring growth.
The problem I observe with this philosophy is that many people don’t realize how dry the soil is and forget about their plants. It starts to cool off in September and people equate cool temperatures with great growing conditions. Unfortunately if the plants don’t have sufficient water, they will do poorly and possibly die.
I just looked at weather records for St. Louis during August and during the last 20 days we have only had .11 inches of rain. While I want my established plants to go deep for water, any new plants or transplants will need water on a regular basis.
I even tested moving plants during the 95 degree temperatures we had during July and with daily watering, they have come through like champs.
Below is a nice video by Charles Dowding on hand watering. The only thing I would do differently is that I use a hose with sprayer or sprinkler attachment and a water timer.