How to Water Adeniums There are several methods to determine whether your Adenium needs to be watered. Here are a few common methods. The method I typical use involves just picking up a few pots. It takes some experience to develop a sense for the ‘feel’ of a dry Adenium, but it’s a very effective technique once mastered. It’s amazing how much heavier a pot feels when it has the right amount of water. Since approximately 25% of the volume of a proper soil mix is water at the saturation point, a person only needs to pick a pot when it’s wet and then again when it’s dry soon you will start getting a ‘feel’ for the difference. Naturally, you can only do this with smaller Adeniums. Another method involves pushing a chopstick into the potting mix, like using a toothpick when baking a cake. If you pull the chopstick out and it is nearly dry then it’s time to water. A third method, and possibly the commonly used, is to dig a couple inches under the surface of the potting mix with your finger. If it is dry at that depth, it may be time to water. This last method requires you to have personal knowledge of your Adeniumsand how they perform in your mix. There are several interrelated factors that affect ‘drying time.’ For example, under perfect conditions some plants can tolerate denser potting mix because they grow so fast that the roots soon colonize it. This rapid growth quickly leaches the soil of moisture. The following are some of the factors I have found which influence drying time:
Potting Mixture The main components that retain water are organic and inorganic fines (very small particles), peat moss, coir, and rice hulls. If you increase the amount of any of these components you will reduce the drainage (aeration) and increase the water holding capacity of your mix. Doing so can lengthen the time between waterings. This can be convenient but it is unadvisable to add so much of these elements that your potting mix will hold more than 25% of its volume as water. If the ratio is more than this you may start having problems with root rot due to poor drainage. Conversely, if you want to increase the drainage (aeration) and reduce how much water the plant will hold you can add inorganic and some organic (bark) large particles (greater than 1/8 inch). A good example of these large particles are lava rock, coarse silica sand, turface, perlite, other stable fired clay products.
Plant Size and Pruning Adeniumsthat have healthy root colonization in a pot need water more frequently. As the top grows they need even more water. When an Adeniumis pruned transpiration is decreased so it will need less water, less frequently. It is very important to pay close attention to this issue. Adeniumswith a lot of leaves tend to grow quickly and colonize very fast which dries out the soil. This is actually great for the plants provided you can water often them often enough. Extra water drains from the pot every time you water as this happens new air comes into the root zone. As the potting mix dries out fresh air is pulled into the root zone again.
Fertilizing Since fertilizer generally makes Adeniumsgrow more quickly, it will also accelerate drying time. Fertilizer may also increase the decomposition of the organic portions of the potting mix, causing premature collapse. This will slow growth and increase drying times. People often forget that this breakdown will affect plant growth and watering intervals. Composted wood and fiber products, other than bark, decompose rapidly and aren’t typically the best choice for potting mixes used for Adeniums. The cypress products commonly used in the southern states of the USA are an exception to this rule and can be excellent potting mix components. Garden, or other compost may also cause problems and are best avoided, especially by beginning Adeniumgrowers. You can avoid many of the problems caused by potting mix breakdown by using more inorganic materials and high quality organic materials like coconut chips, pine, and fir bark
Disease Root rot will make it harder for Adeniumsto take up water and will slow drying times. Sometimes it’s hard to accurately diagnose root damage. There are a number of diseases that lead to the blockage of the plant's vascular system, preventing it from taking up water. When an Adeniumgets one of these diseases the first signs you are likely to see is welting of the leaves. It’s a natural response to want to water the plant but this does not help. The problem is that the roots can’t properly take up the water that’s already present. People often overwater when their plants when this happens and it exacerbates the problem. The best remedy is to let the plant dry out instead of watering it. If your Adenium’sleaves ever start to wilt it’s important for you to make sure that the potting mix is actually dry before you water it. If it’s not dry you may have a problem involving the roots. Appropriate action must be quickly taken to preserve the plant.
Wind An increase of wind activity will increase transpiration, prompting the need to water your Adeniumsmore frequently. Even in moderate temperatures a strong wind can dry plants out quickly. Some varieties of Adeniumsare quite vulnerable to this. The first step to correct this involves relocating your Adeniumsto a place that does not frequently gets a lot of wind if you have a choice.
Sunlight Everyone knows sunlight will heat your plants and pots increasing both transpiration and evaporation. This means that you must water your plants more often. If you’re growing your Adeniumsin a hot dry area try to put them where they will get morning sun and afternoon shade. Adeniumsgrow best with bright light and moderate temperatures. You won’t lose much growth if you put them in some shade during the afternoon heat. Keeping the light levels ideal will make your plants grow the fastest, increase foliage and decrease drying time. This may involve mean adding some shade cloth to cover your Adeniumsduring summer in some areas.
High Temperature Even without sunlight when it is hot transpiration will increase and drying time will decrease. If you are growing your Adeniumsin a place with moderate to low humidity, temperatures over 80F and morning to full sunlight then most established Adeniumsin containers will need to be watered at least twice a week.
High Humidity Where it’s very humid and relatively hot transpiration decreases and drying time will increase. If you are growing your Adeniumsin a hot dry climate increasing humidity can be a great way to extend the time between watering. When the temperatures remain over 100F Adeniumplants may benefit from a fine spray of water for about two minutes a couple times a day. Adding sprinklers or misters under your growing tables can also be helpful in dry hot climate areas.
Pot Size The more mix your pots contain the greater the reservoir of water will be so drying times will increase. It’s important to remember this and check carefully before you water Adeniumsin large pots. The pots generally do not dry nearly as quickly as small pots. This is something to give careful consideration to before attempting to plant Adeniumsin larger than ideal size pots.
In Closing Learning when and how to water your Adeniumsare easily mastered skills that will pay more dividends than any other aspect of their care. Properly watered Adeniumsare incredibly rewarding plants that will give you years of virtually trouble-free pleasure.