How Often Do Nurseries Water Plants?


Correct watering of the plants is important to keep them healthy in the long run. Otherwise, they will fail to function. If you are wondering how well and how often nurseries water their plants, you are at the right place.

Nurseries water their plants thoroughly and regularly. However, the frequency depends on the plant type and seasons. Some are watered weekly, while some are watered daily. The watering frequency will also change depending on the weather conditions, as plants require frequent watering in summers.

Nursery plants are watered more than those growing in the houses because they are in a more favorable environment than the house-grown plants and need more water. This guide will take you through the watering techniques followed in the nurseries. 

When should the plants be watered?

Generally, you should provide every plant with water when the top few inches of the soil have dried out, and the bottom few inches around the roots remain moist.

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Sometimes, 90-95% of the soil must dry out before watering.

It’s common for succulents as they store water in their leaves and stems and can stay without water for weeks. 

The same thing is also followed in the nurseries. However, the nurseries may water their plant before the few inches dry out. 

Nurseries water their plants when the soil surface has dried a bit.

But the plants don’t suffer from this.

Since they live in favorable conditions, they easily absorb the water provided.

Some plants display signs of wilting when they need water.

Wilting is a mutual sign for both overwatering and underwatering.

So, when the plant wilts and the soil is dry, it is time to water them.

If the soil is wet, you must wait for some more days. 

What’s the best time to water the plants?

The nurseries always water their plants in the early morning.

It is considered the best time to water the plants.

The excess water will get dried throughout the day and keep the soil consistently moist. 

The sunlight during daylight doesn’t let water stay over the leaves or keep the soil soggy. 

Water gets dried out completely from the leaves, thus preventing fungal diseases. 

Some moisture also gets dried from the soil, thus preventing soggy and waterlogged soil.

Sometimes, plants are watered in the evening too.

It applies during the summers or for plants that require lots of water. 

But the nurseries always ensure they don’t commit this mistake because prolonged damp leaves can invite fungal infections.

Nursery watering frequency

The frequency of watering the plants depends on the plant type. 

Generally, the nurseries water their plants regularly to keep them hydrated and happy.

They also follow regular intervals along with watering.

Otherwise, the plants suffer from overwatering. 

Similarly, the nursery plants never suffer from underwatering because the workers never keep their plants dry for a long time. 

Some nursery employees have a daily duty of checking and watering the plants. 

The nurseries water their plants every 2nd or 3rd day thoroughly. 

Since they grow in a controlled atmosphere and receive adequate light, the water gets absorbed quickly, and the plants need to be watered.

New plants are watered every week throughout the first and second growing months.

Since they are young and grow vigorously, they constantly need moist soil for good growth. 

House-grown plants are sometimes not watered in the winters.

But nurseries don’t stop watering the plants in winter, as the plants remain in a controlled environment throughout the year.

Only the frequency reduces. 

How often do nurseries water the plants depending on plant type?

To make your confusion clear, below are some watering frequencies depending on the certain factors that are followed in most nurseries: 

Type of plants Watering frequency
Perennials Every 5-7 days, each plant should get 2-5 gallons of water.
Shrubs Nurseries water the shrubs every 5-7 days, approximately 5-7 gallons of water. 
Trees Trees are watered every 7-10 days with 15-20 gallons of water. 
Succulents The nurseries water the succulents every other week and monthly in winters.
This table demonstrates the watering frequency depending on the plant types.

New plants

Year Watering frequency
1st year Water them weekly in the first week. In the second week, only 2-3 times per week if the weather is normal. If it’s dry, don’t reduce the frequency. 
2nd and 3rd year Water 1-2 times per week.
After 3rd year After establishment, some plants will require water once per week, and some will require once every other week. Drought-tolerant plants can stay without water, and some plants, like cacti, require only monthly watering.
This table demonstrates the watering frequency for new plants.

The above frequencies are followed in most nurseries as it keeps the soil consistently moist without letting the plants and trees suffer from overwatering and underwatering.

It soaks the soil completely and allows the moisture to release slowly without letting the whole soil dry out.


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How often do nurseries water their plants depending on the seasons?

The nurseries change watering frequencies according to seasons and temperature.

It is important for both nursery and house plants.

Spring

Spring is when the soil begins to warm up after winter and becomes workable for most plants.

Many plants come out of their winter dormancy this season. 

The nurseries keep the newly planted plants moist but not soggy.

The workers water these plants regularly at proper intervals. 

The soil of the established plants is allowed to dry out a bit more than the new young plants.

These plants are watered 1-2 times per week and even less, allowing 70-80% of the soil to dry out. 

Summer

Summer is a hot and dry season where the soil dries up faster.

The nurseries increase the watering frequency in this season. 

The nurseries water the small plants more often, especially with small root zones. 

The mature shrubs and trees are watered deeply but less frequently, for example, every week. 

The mature native plants will need watering every 2-3 weeks.

The native plants are accustomed to the summer weather, so they don’t need to be watered like the other plants. 

Fall

Fall is the weather with warm days and cool nights. 

Here, the nurseries reduce the watering frequency as most plants slow down their growth before winter. 

For example, if any plant requires weekly watering, the nurseries water them every other week or every 2 weeks. 

Sometimes, the nurseries skip watering if there is rain.

The plants get their moisture from the rainwater. So, there is no need to water the plants.

Winter

Winter is the season of hibernation or dormancy.

Due to this, most of the plants will not require regular watering. 

Despite the need for less watering, the nurseries water the plants sometimes to keep the soil consistently moist. 

Since the plants are healthy and remain in a controlled environment, they won’t mind if they are given water once a week or month.

The nurseries never stop watering the plants completely. 

How come nurseries water their plants daily with few or no intervals?

It is always recommended not to water the plants daily, which causes overwatering.

But nursery plants are watered daily very often. 

Nurseries have their plants in pots, especially terra cotta pots.

The pots have drainage holes, and the porous quality of the terracotta pots helps the plants greatly in drainage.

That is why the nursery plants don’t suffer from any watering issues.

How do nurseries water their plants?

The nurseries follow several irrigation methods, depending on the nursery size.

Hand Watering 

This type of watering method is ideal for small-sized nurseries.

It might take a lot of time, but it saves you from water messiness. 

Watering each plant one by one takes a lot of time and labor and gets quite expensive. 

The watering cans and garden hoses are usable, but a garden hose is a better option. 

Another situation where the process will kill time is when the pipe of the garden hose gets entangled.

You must adjust it constantly so it remains straight and doesn’t entangle. 

But, despite being expensive and time-consuming, the process has benefits. 

Hand Watering makes sure that every plant is watered.

Each of them is given equal attention.

The nursery workers can scrutinize problems if the plant is facing any. 

Sprinklers 

These are cheap automatic watering systems for bigger nurseries with lots of plants.

Once switched on, they sprinkle water on every corner of the greenhouse. 

The Sprinkler system is very easy to install. 

But a drawback is some plants don’t receive the water if they are too far away from the sprinkler system. 

Another drawback is that there could be fungal infections since the leaves get wet while watering.

The sprinkler heads come in both rotation and fixed.

The nurseries mostly use the rotation ones so that water reaches every corner.

Individual Sprinklers

The plant pots have individual sprinkler heads that provide adequate water to the plant below the foliage level. 

The sprinkler heads can be bubblers that release water in small amounts in bubble form.

It also comes in mister heads or spikes that fit well in the soil. 

These individual sprinkler watering systems give very good results but are very expensive.

So, it is not possible to install in the bigger nurseries that have a lot of plants. 

It’s fine for small nurseries with a small number of plants, provided the nurseries can afford it. 

Spaghetti Tubes

These tubes are small tubes that drip water into the plant’s pot slowly. 

Every pot has a tube connected to a single network of pipes. 

Though it is highly effective, it is not good for plants that enjoy some dry conditions, for example, succulents and cacti. 

If the soil is very dry, the soil fails to absorb the water provided through this dripping method.

Therefore, the water comes out of the potholes immediately. 

Capillary Mats

These mats are the water-absorbing mats positioned under the pots.

Water is pumped into the mats, and soil absorbs the water through the drainage holes at the bottom. 

The method is getting popular because they use 60% less water, yet they are so effective. 

One disadvantage is that the minerals and fertilizer salts that deposit in the soil don’t get the chance to get flushed off the soil.

It further increases the salt and mineral build-up, thus burning the plant roots and deteriorating the plant’s health. 

Final thoughts

The watering frequency in the nurseries is no different than those grown in the houses. The nursery plants are watered more than the house-grown plants. 

Nursery plants are quite healthy and grow in a controlled environment. So, they need a little more water. Since they are healthy, they will absorb the extra moisture without struggle.

The plants in the nurseries are generally watered every 2nd or 3rd day. However, it differs depending on the seasons and plant type.


Reference: University of Minnesota, Water Requirements of Greenhouse and Nursery Plants, Nursery irrigation.

Richa

Hello everyone, My name is Richa and I am here to make you a better gardener by creating an in-depth and helpful resource for all the fellow gardeners out there. If I could help even a few people understand their plants better then I call it a success for my efforts.

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