Dormant Watering (was Haemanthus tristis)

Laura & Dave
Fri, 01 Jan 2016 14:46:21 PST

   I agree with Jane that young seedlings need a bit of watering during 
dormancy.  They are small, and don't have the reserves necessary to carry them 
through until the next growing period. However, I've been experimenting with 
bottom watering, rather than sprinkling.  This more closely mimics nature, where 
moisture gradients usually increase with depth.  The theory is that if the root 
tips get a bit of water, the plant's transport system will disperse it 
throughout the plant.  Of course this doesn't work if the roots have already 
dried out, although even dry roots absorb some water.  I've noticed that on many 
plants, I get new roots branching from old, part way between tip and basal plate.
   I have a soil medium that absorbs water fairly quickly, even when dried out.  
What I've been doing is to put the potted plants into a container of water, with 
the water level around a quarter of the height of the soil column.  I take the 
pots out after only a few minutes, so that only the soil at the bottom is wet.  
This is much the same as having an empty flower pot sunk into a sand plunge, 
that delivers water into the lower levels of the plunge.
   This has worked quite well for me, both decreasing loses, and making it 
easier and faster for the plants to come out of dormancy.

Dave Brastow
   Tumwater, Washingon ( Sunny for a few days, Temps +37F (+4C) day, to +18F 
(-7C) nights; back to rain too soon)

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