A moisture meter is a portable low-cost device used to determine the water requirements of indoor AND outdoor plants. We offer Rapid Test® Moisture meters to take the guesswork out of watering for only $18.99. Contact us today!
A numbered graduated meter is typically attached to a probe that, when inserted into the plant’s original root ball, quickly and relatively accurately informs you of the soil’s moisture level. This alleviates most of the guesswork in trying to determine if a plant needs to be watered. While you may check the surrounding soil, a recently installed plant is drawing moisture from its original root mass and very little from the surrounding earth. Using a moisture meter also keeps your fingernails clean!
Probing 3-4” deep at a number of locations in the original root ball (the soil and root mass that the plant arrived with), within 1-4 inches of the main stem, will supply you with a number that is relevant to moisture level in the soil. If the meter has graduations ranging from ZERO to TEN, TEN indicates it is wet and ZERO is totally dry. On newly installed woody ornamentals, allow the soil to dry to approximately to EIGHT on a scale of ZERO to TEN. If the moisture meter indicates TEN, the plant’s root ball is wet and does NOT require watering. Watering when the root ball is at TEN may drown the plant. Allow it to dry to EIGHT or so before watering. On hot windy days, this may occur quite rapidly, so check it again in a few hours when in doubt. After a short period of time, you will learn how quickly the plant’s root ball is drying and become quite adept at determining the plant’s water requirements.
Don’t force the probe into the soil. If you cannot get the probe into the soil in one location, try another. Generally, if you cannot get the probe into the soil, it is DRY.
Watering longer is not always the solution. Once you think you are finished watering a plant, take the moisture meter and probe at various locations within the parent root ball. This is generally within 1-2 inches of the main stem of the plant. Probe as deep as possible. If the entire root ball measures 10, then no more water is required. Adding water beyond the soil's capacity to hold it generally results in the water running off around the root ball and into the soil surrounding the root ball.
Since the plants are taking up water only from their parent root balls and not the soil surrounding those root balls, watering the soil surrounding the root balls and not the root balls themselves is of no value to the newly installed plant. In weeks and months to come, tiny new roots will begin to grow into the soil surrounding the root ball and begin to tap into the moisture from the surrounding soil. This is a slow process in spring and summer as most woody plants produce their roots in autumn.
Lack of moisture may result in a plant wilting with the drooping of leaves. Others may turn from a lustrous color to a dull color. Some will curl their leaves and others appear to just simply die. Foliage under water stress typically has warmer limp leaves and stems while a plant that is not under moisture stress typically has cooler rigid leaves and stems. Feeling the plant’s temperature is helpful once you know what to feel for.
Drought or damage to a plant results in the plant showing yellowing and dropping of the older or inner leaves, 7-10 days AFTER the drought or damage. Watering a plant when you see leaves yellowing or dropping is often too late for those leaves. Watering at this time will help prevent future leaves from dying.
Only ONE moisture meter is required to check all of your plants. A moisture meter works beautifully on container growing plants, or perennials, shrubs and bushes outdoors and indoors.
Moisture meters are an inexpensive and quick means to determine a plant’s watering requirements. I prefer the meters with the probe attached to the end of a cable, as they are easier to use. Never pull on the cable when removing it from the earth, only on the fingered tab area designed for removing it from he ground. Otherwise, you will tear or damage the cable from the metal probe and will need to buy a new one.
We offer a Rapid Test® Moisture meter to take the guesswork out of watering for only $18.99.
Contact us today!