In general, soil for growing seedlings should always be kept moist, but never boggy or allowed to completely dry out. Both underwatering and overwatering present dangers to young seedlings.
So, how often should I water my seedlings? My advice is almost always to underwater plants rather than overwater, but this is only applicable to adult plants. Seedlings are much more vulnerable to drying out, and you may not be able to revive them.
So, here are some tips and tricks to getting the amount of water right for your young plants, and developing them to become healthy and fully grown.
How Often Should I Water My Seedlings- What You Need to Know
Seedlings are not able to store water for very long so they need to be consistently moist and never too wet. This is the most involved time in looking after your plants as they will need to be watered daily, and up to several times a day.
Some may be under the impression that you can just keep adding water to a seedling’s soil, and it will take what it needs. This is not the case, and can easily harm your young plant.
Overwatering comes with a huge range of dangers to delicate plant life. It creates boggy soil and the dampness attracts unwanted pests and bugs.
The waterlogged soil can also prevent the plant from taking up the nutrients it needs in the soil.
Most healthy adult plants can take a period of underwatering, forgetful people who have houseplants know this all too well. Most plants will eventually show signs of stress if left in bone-dry soil, but a short time will not matter.
However, because they are more delicate and need more nutrients in their growing phase, this does not apply to seedlings and you should never allow their soil to completely dry out.
Tips For Watering Seedlings
Check If Your Seedlings Need Watering
The best way to check if the soil has enough water is to stick your finger in it. It shouldn’t feel dry and sandy, nor should it feel like wet clay. It should feel moist but not leave your finger wet afterward.
If you don't like the thought of sticking your finger into the soil, you can invest in a moisture gauge. This can show you the moisture density of your soil easily.
Water at a level that keeps the seedlings in this level of moist soil consistently. Adding water only when it begins to dry out, but not allowing it to become bone dry.
Ensure Good Drainage
This is a good way to prevent your seedlings from becoming waterlogged and leaving them vulnerable to rot and disease.
Use soil that isn’t compact and full of organic materials. Getting the soil right at the start is important, as a seedling's roots will be too delicate to transplant later.
If it’s a potted plant, ensure there are drainage holes at the bottom. A pot made from natural materials such as terracotta is porous and leaches out the water, also improving the plant’s conditions.
However, you may need to water the plant more frequently.
Use Top or Bottom Watering
If you are top watering, spray the seedlings with a weak mister or spray bottle. Use a bottle that sprays a large cloud of droplets rather than a jet of water to avoid overwatering.
Bottom watering means setting up a tray on top of which the seedlings sit so that they can take up water at an even rate. Add water to the bottom container only to the level that it just reaches the holes on the seedlings container to avoid waterlogging them.
Although this more involved step of caring for your plants can be daunting, with some care and a gentle touch, you can achieve the right level of watering to keep your young seedlings healthy and have them sprouting into healthy growths in no time.
Make sure you also check out our other care guides like growing Mammoth Sunflowers and how to store seeds long term.