Petunias are a great addition to any garden but need special care. Whether you’re new to gardening or just love petunias, you may wonder how often you should water your plants.
Your potted petunias should get about an inch (2.5 cm) of water every week. Watering once a week or every 5-7 days is ideal for potted petunias because their pot will hold water and keep them moist throughout the week. However, if you live in a hotter or rainy climate, adjust accordingly.
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about keeping your petunias healthy and happy—at least hydration-wise!
Ideal Watering Routines for Petunias
Like any other plant, petunias need water to survive. As a general rule, petunias in pots need to be watered more than those growing directly in the ground. This is because petunias in pots cannot absorb water from the surrounding soil, so they don’t receive as much water as plants growing in the ground.
However, you should also keep in mind that pots may drain more poorly, increasing the risk for water logging.
Source and Temperature
You can use stored rainwater or tap water because petunias are generally more salt-tolerant and less demanding when it comes to water type than other houseplants.
When watering petunias in pots, use room temperature water if possible, because cold water can shock the roots. Aim for water a temperature around 68 °F (20 °C) for your plant’s optimum health.
Regardless of the water source or temperature, ensure that the water doesn’t touch the foliage to avoid moisture-related problems like pests and microbial infection.
However, during the blooming season in the summer, the flowers don’t mind getting wet from a gentle sprinkle from your watering can during the hottest time of the day.
How often you should water your petunias in pots depends on a few factors. The first is how much rainfall you receive and the climate and temperature of where you live.
Next, consider the components you’ve chosen for your potting mix. Some soils retain moisture better than others, so petunia growers must know which soil best suits their plants.
Avoid anything with too much peat moss, as it can make plants more prone to waterlogging. Sandy soil tends to be best for petunias. Many gardens naturally have different types of soil, but since your petunias are potted, it’d be a great investment to get them the right type of soil rather than just pulling from your current flower beds.
Garden soil can be too compacted for your potted petunias, so I recommend getting a potting mix 50% perlite or sand for excellent drainage and aeration and a mix of coco peat and vermiculite to help with moisture retention.
If it’s hotter where you live, you’ll need to water your petunias more. If it’s cooler, they might not dry out as fast.
An easy way to check is by sticking a finger or stick into your pot about 2 inches (5 cm) deep about 3-5 days after watering your plant. Petunias have fibrous roots that spread around the potting soil so be careful not to damage the roots in the process.
If your finger or the stick comes up moist, you can wait a few more days until the soil is dry enough. Make it a habit to check the soil before watering your plant again to avoid overwatering. Petunias are drought-tolerant but quite sensitive to overwatering.
Petunias in Hanging Baskets
The watering frequency for petunias in hanging baskets can differ significantly than potted petunias. Hanging baskets are exposed to the wind and typically have a more porous substrate, drying up the soil more quickly.
Ideally, you should water petunias in hanging baskets as soon as the top inch (2.5 cm) of the soil is dry. However, it can be too much work to check the soil in hanging baskets, especially if they’re high up. As long as you have an appropriate fast-draining potting mix, you can water them once daily or twice during hot days.
Dangers of Overwatering
Watering too often can also be a problem, as it can cause water logging or flooding. This, in turn, can lead to root rot and cause the plant to stop growing altogether.
Soil compaction is another danger of overwatering your plants. As you pour more water into the soil around your plant, it will become more compacted, creating less room for roots to grow and absorb nutrients.
Over time, this could result in these roots being unable to reach further than they already have and dying off altogether—meaning that even if you stop watering them excessively, they’ll still die.
Overwatering, in the short term, may also cause a growth spurt in petunias, resulting in a tall plant that falls over when it gets too large.
Helpful Watering Strategies for Petunias
By now, you probably have a good idea of how often your petunias need to be watered.
Below are some additional tips you’ll need to know to ensure your potted petunias are well-watered:
Avoid Using Self-Watering Pots or Wick-Watering
Petunias are slightly drought-tolerant and will do well with a bit of dry soil between waterings. However, they can become thirsty during the blooming season to maintain the blooms. Still, it’s best to hand-water your potted petunias to prevent the risks of overwatering.
As discussed, you must habitually check the soil before feeding your plant more water. Using self-watering pots or wick-watering can keep the soil moist for too long, inviting pests and encouraging fungal growth.
Use Pots With Drainage Holes
Petunias have colorful blooms that can grace your garden from spring until fall. They also look fantastic in decorative pots. However, more than aesthetics, it’s important to choose pots with drainage holes to encourage the extra moisture to drain freely.
As you know, excess moisture in the soil can damage the roots when allowed to sit in the pot for long enough.
You can still use decorative pots as cachepots for your petunias, but ensure that the main pot has a drainage hole.
How Do I Know When My Petunias Need Water?
As I’ve explained, over-watering will cause root rot, leading to fungus and disease problems in your plants. On the other hand, you don’t want to give your petunias too little water either. So when should you water your petunias?
Your petunias need water if the soil is dry, they seem droopy, or if surrounding temperatures are too high. Usually, you should only need to water your petunias once every 5-7 days. However, if you have noticed they may be dry or need water, you can adjust your routine.
Petunias in pots need more frequent watering than those planted directly into the ground because they’re housed inside containers that hold less moisture than open ground does.
Petunias are more tolerant to drought than overwatering, so it can take some time before they show signs of thirst. But with a timely response to dehydration, your plant will highly likely recover.
You can also amend the soil if it’s draining too quickly by adding mulch or compost. Doing so will improve the water retention and gradually enrich the soil to feed your plant added nutrients.
When watering your petunias, you want to ensure they’re getting enough water to thrive. A good rule of thumb is to keep an eye on the soil and the plant itself and pay attention to whether or not it needs water.
If you think your petunias need more water than usual, consider increasing the watering frequency until they are back on track. Alternatively, consider adding more organic matter to the potting mix to improve moisture retention.