I woke early this morning and was reading a book on container gardening that I’d borrowed from the library. One of my favorite places to hang out by the way. When I got to the section on proper watering, It said how watering from above is a good idea because it removes harmful salts that build up when plants are grown in containers. These salts become toxic to the plant and interfere with its growth. Before my fascination with succulents I was in love with African violets. I’ve fond memories of them from my childhood in Canada where Mom kept several on our kitchen window sill.
Now, back to watering. I’ve always bottom watered my plants in a saucer because I was taught that this was how to avoid getting the leaves and crown wet, which is not good. Crown rot can occur from an overly wet plant. Now I’m wondering if this means I have a salt build up in my African Violets. I went to my African Violet book to find out what it had to say about the subject. Here is what I learned about top watering versus bottom watering. As it turns out both are fine when done properly. First of all African Violets like room temperature water. I always keep tap water stored in bottles so it has time to dechlorinate before I use it on my plants, so it’s always at room temperature.
Using a long spouted watering can is recommended, so you can water the soil without wetting the foliage and crown. Apply the water in a gentle flow until the soil is thoroughly moistened. Allow excess water to drain away so it will not be reabsorbed from the saucer which would reintroduce the salts into the soil.
When bottom watering set the pot in a saucer of water until the top of the soil is moistened. Then, empty the saucer. Never leave your plants sitting in water. Continual bottom watering leads to a buildup of harmful mineral salts, so occasionally top watering is a good idea following the instructions above. You should water only when the top of the soil is dry to the touch. Here I was reading about succulents and learned I was harming my African Violets by only bottom watering.
After reading about how top watering is beneficial, I top watered all of my African Violets, and was amazed to see how quickly they perked up. They seemed to appreciate their soil being thoroughly wet. Was I under-watering them? My violets aren’t flowering right now, but their leaves sure look happy. I looked back at a previous post I had written on African Violet care. See HERE It had some good information. It’s too bad I didn’t pay attention to my own advice. But remember, when top watering, not to let your plants sit in water once the water has run through and drained from the bottom.