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How Often To Water Seedlings – A Helpful Guide

Seedlings need water to grow, though giving them too much or too little can keep them from growing or, worse, kill them. Whatever type of plant you want to grow from seed, you’ll need to know how often to water seedlings.

Most seedlings should be watered at least once per day. In drier climates, two-three times per day is required. The amount of soil and moisture level will indicate whether you need to increase or decrease your watering schedule. 

Below, we’ll get into more details about how often to water and provide some essential tips on how to care for seedlings to grow at their very best. 

How To Treat Your Seedlings 

Seedlings are sensitive and need a lot of care when they’re first planted. To treat your seedlings the best so they can grow their very best, here are some of the key things you’ll need to look out for. 

Water

Water is perhaps one of the most critical parts of successful seedling care. You have to hit the sweet spot when watering, not giving them too little or too much. The key is to check your seedling trays often, checking to see if there is any accumulated water. If there is, you’re giving them too much and need to cut back to avoid rotting. 

Another thing to avoid is watering the wrong way. While it’s typical to pour water on the tops of trays, it’s best to add water to the bottom and allow water to soak up. This will give the roots access to water, promoting stronger, more resilient foundations. 

Sunlight 

Another essential for seedlings is sunlight. Seedlings need a mixture of water and sun to grow and sprout. Though it might not seem like they need much, seedlings need quite a bit of time under the sun. Keep them there for at least 10 hours a day, allowing soils to get full exposure. 

If you’re growing a plant that will need some shade when it sprouts, consider growing indoors until then, later finding a shadier place in your garden for planting properly. You can also opt for artificial lighting, which you should provide for your seedlings at least 12 hours a day. 

Moisture 

Apart from watering properly, there is also a need to watch out for moisture levels. You want to provide your seedling with a happy medium, giving them plenty of water to keep soils moist without overdoing it. 

One way to tell if you’re giving your plant too much water is to check the tray. Any standing water at the bottom could lead to rot, killing seedlings and preventing them from germinating. Once you water, check back after about 30 minutes for excess water, dumping it out if you see it. 

Indoor Vs. Outdoor Seedlings: How to Water 

Indoor and outdoor conditions are both very different. When it comes to planting your seedlings and watering them, you’ll need to know about these key differences between indoor and out. 

Indoor 

Seedlings that you plant indoors will need access to sunlight. Continued exposure to the sun can dry out the soil, so you’ll need to be sure to water. Here’s what you’ll need to do to keep your seedlings quenched. 

#1. Watch the Excess 

Seedlings first start to grow their roots, which is how they access nutrients. Roots do need water, though not too much, as too much can result in rot that weakens plants or kills them. Start off with about 1 cup of water a day, using that as a starting point to measure whether to increase or decrease. 

#2. Check the Weight 

After watering, giving your plants a quick lift will help you feel the weight once the soil is moistened. As your plant grows, you can use the weight to reference how much you need to water and check if your plant may be oversaturated. 

#3. Use the Sink 

Plant trays have holes in the bottom that allow water to flow through. This helps keep soils from rotting but can make a mess inside your home. Instead, water your plants at the sink to allow water to flow through. Once done, pat them dry and place them back by the window so they can continue to grow. 

#4. Ditch Tap Water

All tap water is filled with chemicals to make it safe to drink. Some of these chemicals are harmful to beneficial microbes in soil and can deplete them if not careful. To ensure these chemicals are gone, you can either purchase spring water or pour a glass and let it sit for at least 24 hours, as most chemicals will evaporate. 

Outdoor 

When planting your seedlings outside, it’s a whole different ballgame, and here’s how you can score. 

#1. Rise and Shine 

The morning is the best time to water seedlings for a few reasons. First of all, it’s cooler outside, so water will not evaporate as quickly. Secondly, as the sun rises, water will dry off of leaves and stems. Allowing water to accumulate on leaves and stems in areas that are not hot enough could promote fungus growth and damage plants later on. 

#2. Plan Your Planting 

When planting outside, you shouldn’t just plant and see what happens. You’ll need to plan to make sure that seedlings and the plants they will grow into have everything they need. Consider planting plants with similar watering needs close to one another. Also, consider the amount of sunlight they will need each day and whether or not one or the other attracts insects that could damage leaves and stems. 

#3. Don’t Overdo It 

If you’re a newbie to planting, you may want to constantly water plants. While water is essential, you can’t overdo it, as it will negatively affect your plants. Keep your local weather in mind, as rain provides moisture to the soil. If you’re living in a dry and humid area, you may need to water twice a day. To help gauge how much you should be watering outdoors, use a few moisture sticks, putting them at least 1-inch into the soil to check for moisture underground. 

Final Thoughts 

Water is an essential part of seedling development but knowing how much to give them is the key. Be sure to check moisture often and observe how the soil looks and feels. Keep it moist but don’t overdo it, giving your seedlings optimal conditions to sprout and grow.