The Proper Way to Water a Potted Plant

I have been searching online and reading many books on Marijuana for a few years now. When I read/saw the article that I thought it is helpful, I copied and saved as a document, so that I can refer to it later. Today, I was flipping through my notebook, I found this note about the proper way to water a potted plant. Some of the members here may not know there is a proper way to water potted plants and I thought this article may be useful.

I don’t know the exact source but I think it is from 420 Magazine, poster’s handle: Emilya.
Attached pics also found somewhere online related to the proper way to watering/repotting, so I add it to my notebook. But I can’t find the original source. I wish I can credit the person who shared the information.

====== FYI: It’s long notes. If I can upload as pdf or Word Doc, I would, but this forum doesn’t allow file type pdf or doc ============

The Proper Way to Water a Potted Plant
Also covered: the importance of pH and why we successively up-pot

How to Water
Over the last several years I have put a lot of study into this, and I feel that I can now define the proper way to water a potted plant. Keep in mind that this discussion applies to at least 3-gallon containers and bigger. Please realize that this special plant of ours does not grow like anything else you have ever tried to grow, and no matter how good you are at growing peas, beans and tomatoes, you will have to change your methods to grow a weed.

The first rule of watering is to always water slowly, using no more than a quart at a time, pausing often to let the soil suck air in behind the water as it pools on the top. For me, that involves a routine of watering each of my plants with 1 quart, then taking a nice relaxing drink of whatever beverage I have brought with me to the tent. Then I take a deep breath, making sure to exhale deeply onto this plant, letting her know that I love her. After this, I take a nice big hit off of the pipe that also followed me into the tent, and then after a nice pause and maybe another drink, I go back to plant #1 and repeat the cycle. For 2 rounds, I water the entire surface of the soil, watching it pool up and get sucked down.

After this initial wetting of the top, my watering method changes a bit. Now, I want to do whatever I can to make the outside edges of the container, the wettest areas. Still only using a quart at a time, I now carefully water only there, all around the plant, only on the edges. While doing this, I slow down a bit so that the water doesn’t pool as much in the center, always concentrating on the edges. The center will end up getting some too, and that’s fine, but the wettest areas of the pot will be on the outside edges and you will be driving nutrient-rich soil into the dense original root ball. Continue this, again going slow, maybe with a deep breath in the middle of it, and then continue all around, taking drinks, deep breaths and hits in between each round. Continue until you see the first signs of runoff, and then stop.

Look carefully at the surface of your container now. You will see where the root ball is from your last transplant because it will now be sticking up just a little bit above the original outer rim. Very fine soil has been driven through the original root ball with the flow of water and soil from the outer edges. This micro-fine soil is very rich with nutrients because of its mobility. When you water from the outside edges, you force this micro-fine sludge into the dense root ball, where it can do the most good. Once you establish this flow pattern in the container, you can be assured of totally replacing the micro soil in the center of the root ball with new soil, every time you water. Watering in the normal way does not create his circular flow, and root growth cannot be nearly as aggressive.

Lastly, take one last quart of water, and water very very slowly, just in the raised area where the original root ball is. As you do so, watch what happens at the outer edge of the original root ball.

You will see the very finest soil, almost a mud, migrating out of the old root ball, and into the middle! This completes the process of soil exchange in the container. In this manner, all the roots get to take advantage of the nutrients in the soil, and the roots follow the migration of the nutrient-rich soil, toward the outer edges, creating lateral growth. I strive to actively drive the soil out of the middle, making room for the roots to grow more dense and bigger there, and as they do, the lateral growth also has to increase. Using this method, I have seen a steady increase in the amount of water needed to get to run off throughout the grow and by the end, plants watered in this way use approximately 30% more water than is seen using standard watering techniques. Watering in the manner I have described allows for a constant circular flow of soil throughout the container and will create an extremely dense root ball.

Now it is time for a truism. It is best to water the roots, not the plant. A healthy and robust root system means a happy and productive plant. Neglect the roots and your plants can die, and certainly will be less than they could have been.

When do we water?
By far, one of the most common plant problems that I see with new gardeners is a lack of understanding as to when to water. New people get it set in their mind that watering every day or every other day is best, or that somehow, mysteriously, they know in their human minds exactly how much water the plants need. These well-meaning new gardeners will determine that they will give exactly one quart or some other random amount, each time, no more… and no less, and believe that they are doing a good thing for their plants, making these decisions for them.
Just as bad as these over-thinkers are the tomato gardeners, the “stick your finger in the ground” crowd, who proclaim: it’s time to water when it is dry below the second knuckle. What they fail to realize is that when the top 2 inches are dry, the lower half of the container could still be saturated with water. Both of these common mistakes in watering methods are quick ways to drown your plants. These methods are not correct for growing weeds, and using them can kill your plants.

Marijuana is a weed, and the main thing that this scientific term refers to is a class of plant that thrives in adversity. To grow it well, you need to understand that this incredibly robust plant works differently than other, less hardy plants. It is an extremely aggressive grower if you allow it to be, and to grow prize-winning pot, you need to use its abilities to send out new roots to your advantage.

Watering incorrectly is the most common mistake that new weed farmers make. This plant needs a clear wet/dry cycle to thrive. If you keep it moist, you will kill it. The roots will aggressively chase your water, whatever you give them. If you just give a small amount every couple of days, that water will drop right to the bottom of the container. Your roots will follow and will cluster on the bottom, instead of growing laterally throughout the container, and since they continually sit in the nutrient-rich water, the plant sees little need to grow additional roots. How you water makes a huge difference in the formation of the root ball, and how this development happens is up to you.

There are many ways to tell when it is time to water, and if you wait long enough the girls will tell you that they are thirsty. They do two things when they see that they need water, they throw out a smell, and they begin to wilt, starting at the bottom, moving up. You can also use the lift method to tell when the container is dry, and almost always you will “feel” a dry container before the above-mentioned wilt and fragrance pump happens. Rusty Trichome taught me an important lesson; every time I think that I need to do something to my plants, I wait a bit… and I try to move at the speed that my plants are moving. “Patience, above all else.” --Rusty

If you have a moisture meter you can also use it to find where the wet/dry (water table) line is in your container, and you can watch that wet/dry line move down over time. I used to graph my water table level by day so that I could project ahead when the wet-dry line would reach the last inch of container. Your wet/dry line will never go lower than that last inch or so, because once you get down in there, you are in all the big taproots and mass at the bottom, and it tends to stay wet there longer because of the capillary effect. Again, if you wait for the first sign of wilt and that perfume pump that happens at “water me” point, it will usually be just a bit longer than your measurements would indicate. Once the water table line is anywhere in that bottom inch is ok to water. You have dried out 95% of the water by that time and the roots have been chasing it as the wet/dry line progresses both downward and outward. The suction caused by the diaphragm that is the water table will have pulled oxygen down deep into the container, and fill any voids. The roots will be happy.

Why do we up-pot?
The art of successive up-potting is important in growing a healthy root system. People like to be lazy. I am constantly seeing new gardeners take a little sprig of a weed and put it in a big 3 or 5-gallon container, thinking that they have done a good thing, and are now done with it… it’s on to harvest time! The problem is, this doesn’t work, because it gives you zero control over developing the roots, and without crazy watering techniques, almost no chance of a solid root ball forming. It is imperative to successively up pot your plants through stages so that the root system can roughly take on the same size and shape as the plant to get the maximum productivity. The roots grow aggressively in these weeds, and if you confine them to a container the size of the plant, they will fill that space in a short time with a dense root system. Putting a plant in an oversized container can and often does, result in all the roots going to the bottom, drowning the plant, root rot, and overall poor health because of a lack of a root ball, and certainly less than optimum harvests. It is important to force these weeds into producing a root ball at various stages, to give the plant the ability, later on, to take in the massive amounts of nutrients needed to produce lots of quality buds.
The plants in the smaller containers can also more directly show you when they are thriving or more importantly when they are not. A strong healthy plant will eventually outgrow its container and an observant gardener is carefully watching the length of time between wet/dry cycles, and directly relating shorter cycles with more robust roots. A smaller container also gives the gardener the ability to see when the moment arrives that the amount of soil the plant is in is no longer large enough for the plant’s abilities to be happy in it, because it will be obvious when the plant can drain the water that soil is able to hold, in less than 24 hours. Your soil and your container at that point have ceased at that point to be a good enough buffer, and it is time to double the space the roots have to work with. Let your plant show you when that time is, and try not to make decisions for her.

Why is pH important?
Some people claim that pH is not important, and if you are a pure organic gardener, never applying chlorinated water or salt-based synthetic nutrients at your plants, pH indeed is not important. For the 99.9% rest of the world, a very important lesson for the new gardener to learn is the importance of pH. There is a scientific reason why a proper pH allows the plants to use synthetic nutrients, and why being outside of the proper range can cause deficiencies. If you want to grow pot using chemicals, you need to invest in a method to test the pH of any water going into the plant, whether it is plain water or water mixed with nutrients, and whether it is applied to the roots or sprayed on the leaves. If you neglect the pH, you can easily create deficiencies in your plants, and if left unchecked, you can even kill them. If you spend a lot of money on nutrients, it makes sense that you would want to also create the proper environment so that the plant can use these nutrients, but with a pH way out of the 6.3-6.8 range in soil, a lot of those expensive nutrients will just sit there, not doing the plant any good. If you are in a soilless mix, pH in the range of 5.5-6.1 is necessary. It is only within these ranges that all the nutrients are mobile, can be broken free of their salt bonds and be in the form that can go into the plants. Most soils and systems are designed so that you can apply liquids at a lower pH and then the soil or the soilless mix causes a drift, so that the pH can visit each spot in the usable pH range for that medium, and all of the 17 needed nutrients will be picked up, each in its turn. @AAA


Thanks for sharing this.
One thing I would like to add is watering from the bottom.
Flooding the saucer or tray as part of my watering along with breaking up the total amount of water used into several top water applications I also will in the middle put some in the saucer for the soil to wick it up.
Especially when in smaller pots when they are young and developing roots…want to have the roots search down too as well as horizontal with watering the top pots edges.
Watering from the bottom is also a way to help combat fungus growth up top and can keep the fungus gnats at bay.


I had bookmarked this awhile back myself…was a great tutorial…removed the sites name in case its not allowed and sorry if its not, but if you payed attention above I’m sure it can be figure it out. :wink:

@Amazon66 Check this out!

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“Marijuana is a weed, and the main thing that this scientific term refers to, is a class of plant that thrives in adversity. This plant needs a clear wet/dry cycle in order to thrive. If you keep it moist, you will kill it. The roots will aggressively chase your water, whatever you give them.”

Is this actually a fact of weeds or just potted plants? Cause hydro grows seem to be the best rooting environments for cannabis but they’re moist all the time. Is a pot of soil superior when watered correctly?


I’m not sure I’ll tag someone @Cyle1 @Jbum @Skydiver @elheffe702 or anyone @GreenJewels is the above article correct ?

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Welcome to forum you’ll love it

I tagged a few people for opinions we’ll see thanks for showing it to me

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There’s a lot of good information there, but a lot of opinion without much to back it up, too. There are many, many different methods of watering/feeding. I don’t think there’s a ‘wrong’ way, exactly, as long as your plants are happy. The big things I take from that article are to make sure you’re saturating the entire medium evenly, not just one pocket of soil. It’s very easy to get in a hurry and create sort of tunnel through the soil that most of the liquid will flow right through.

I don’t like to wait until the plants wilt to feed them, because at that point, they’re not far from being too dry. I’m forgetful, I get distracted easily, and I forget things. So if I see a plant that I know will need watered tomorrow, and will be all wilty and droopy if I wait until then, I feed it. If the medium was prepared properly as far as aeration/drainage with perlite or something similar, I feel like there should be plenty of oxygen getting to the roots, still. But, I’m still figuring things out, myself, so take all that with a grain of salt. I think there’s a balance between control over every aspect vs. letting nature do her thing, especially indoors. Every plant is different, every grow is different, and every grower is a little bit different. Take everyone’s suggestions into account, then figure out what works best for you.


I agree with what @elheffe702 says
There is a lot of good info, pointers and points of view in the article not backed up by the scientific method. Some good hypothesis and there is also probably some actual theory in it. Hard to tell though what’s fact and what’s opinion and speculation.
I also slow water. It takes me about an hour to water 1-2 girls. This does help the entire pot absorb the water without run through channels developing. I never wait until the girls wilt. I do judge when to water by weight and by putting my fingers down along inside edge of the pot.
Not sure I agree on their pot size opinion, theory or hypothesis. I have taken 3 week old autoflowers and put them in a 5 gallon cloth pot with great success. My roots were very healthy and spread throughout the pot. Each plant definitely has there own likes and dislikes, even from the same strain. My opinion is It’s best to learn to read your plant so you can apply that knowledge to even the fussiest of plants.
Thanks for the tag @Amazon66 that was a good read :v::green_heart:


Now this was just a thought and no proof behind it beyond that…lol
Hydro works best if/when water is flowing/moving…if you took just a plant and stuck it in a container filled with just water it probably would eventually drown and die and I’m thinking the same or similar happens with soil…if soil doesn’t drain properly or water doesn’t get absorbed then it drowns too…or the very least both get root rot and once again will die. (the stagnant water thing)
May also have to do with air also in the same way…no fresh air=bad roots=death.
Maybe someone can add a more ‘scientific’ response ?


I heard the hydroponic growing system is better than the soil growing. However, not everyone can afford the system nor have space and other means to have this system setup at home.
I am not even sure how plants grow in hydroponic 24/7 without rotting. But I am sure it has scientific explanation that make sense. But, this isn’t about a comparison between hydroponic vs soil.

So growing indoor in the pot using regular soil, plants can only rely on nutrition’s and water that we feed them.

I don’t have experience in outdoor or hydroponic. I always grow plants indoor, in the pot. However, not knowing what I am doing, rather, not knowing the proper way to water the plants, I have mixed results. Some plants grow hardy and some, not so good. I never pay attention to watering. I just pour the water on top of the plant and sometimes, I pour around the plant slowly when the water doesn’t go down quickly as the other pots. I don’t talk to the plants. I don’t play music in my grow room as some suggest I should do.

But I still don’t know why some plants do much better than the other under the same condition: i.e. lights, feeding schedule, nutrition, etc.

Below the article, I found from the University of Nottingham research published in the journal “Nature Plants” by Dietrich.

“The direction in which root tips grow is influenced by many factors – gravity, nutrients, water, touch, and even light,” Dietrich tells us. "By understanding how hydrotropism works we can perhaps nudge plants into using their hydrotropic response more and go search for water harder."

So, I checked out further on Hydrotropism. Below is the info that I found. I can’t post the link but it sums up that roots follow water However, when we water the young plants by filling up the saucer, plant roots are not big enough to reach to get hydrated. I think this is the basic idea to water around the roots just far enough for roots to spread. Eventually, the roots will be big enough and grow down far enough, maybe we can just full the saucer and may require to transplant to a bigger pot.


Definition - What does Hydrotropism mean?

In plant biology, hydrotropism is a plant’s growth response towards water sources. Hydrotropism, which is triggered by plant hormones, can be a positive or negative response, whereby the plant will either turn away from water concentrations, protecting itself from oversaturation or move towards them, protecting itself in times of drought.

Consequently, through hydrotropism, the plant can avoid drought-related stress since the root cap can orientate itself towards moister parcels of land.

MaximumYield explains Hydrotropism

Plant hormones known as auxins play an important role in bending or orienting the roots towards water sources. These hormones have also been known to trigger a rapid growth spurt in one side of the root, hence enabling the plant to bend towards the water.

A plant’s ability to grow towards some kind of moisture gradient can protect the plant from various kinds of mineral deficiency. Studies have shown that hydrotropism can allow plants to grow in space, whereby the roots respond directly to environmental stimulation in spite of zero gravity. However, it has been noted that hydrotropism in micro or zero gravity causes the plants to grow sideways or latterly.

Hydrotropism is just one of many ways plants can move in response to their surroundings. Other ways plants move include:

  • Gravitropism and geotropism (movement relative to a gravitational field, or toward the center of the Earth)
  • Thigmotropism (plant growth in response to physical contact)
  • Chemotropism (movement in response to a chemical in the environment)
  • Phototropism (plant growth and movement in response to lighting levels)
  • Thermotropism (response dependent upon temperature)

Plant movement, including hydrotropism, has been fascinating researchers for decades.


Nice thoughts on all this everyone. All of it is on point for success.
Here is my perfect watering schedule /system
I don’t know what the optimum ratio of moisture to air in the soil for being dialed in that the plant and roots want but I’m going to use 65% moisture to 35% air mixed evenly throughout the soil and my imaginary (don’t have one yet lol ) automatic drip system has entire coverage of soil on top and delivers just the right amount of moisture and the right intervals based on some probe/s in the soil that regulate the intervals to maintain said 65% moisture evenly in the entire soil profile.
Hmm wonder what is the preferred ratio that the plants strive for?

That’s my picture on Pineapple Express at this time.

As far as Cannabis being a weed I disrespectfully disagree lol
I don’t care how they want to explain it all I know is that it isn’t a weed as one normally thinks of weeds. I anyway when thinking of a weed is something without use and many weeds (actually all weeds have uses just not all for humans) like dandelions and many others that do bring good things to the human table are plants that fruit with seeds…like Cannabis.
Are Cacti weeds? They fit the description of weeds I think but I certainly don’t think of them as such.

Ralph Waldo Emerson described a weed as a plant whose virtue has not yet been discovered.
Or in our western worlds case rediscovered…

More points of view and they seem to mostly be saying similar things…

Below is from Penn State Extension

No matter what definition is used, weeds are plants whose undesirable qualities outweigh their good points.
Prepared by Dwight D. Ligenfelter, Extension Agronomist,
Department of Agronomy, Penn State University

Description of a Weed

There are numerous definitions of a weed, including:

  • a plant out of place and not intentionally sown
  • a plant growing where it is not wanted
  • a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. (R.W.Emerson)
  • plants that are competitive, persistent, pernicious, and interfere negatively with human activity (Ross, et. al.)
  • and many others

No matter what definition is used, weeds are plants whose undesirable qualities outweigh their good points, according to man. Our human activities create weed problems since no plant is a “weed” in nature. Though we may try to manipulate nature for our own good, nature is persistent. Through the manipulation process, certain weeds are controlled, while, other more serious weeds may thrive because favorable growing conditions for them also have been meet. Weeds are naturally strong competitors and those weeds that can best compete always tend to dominate. Both humans and nature are involved in plant breeding programs. The main difference between the two programs is that man breeds plants for yield, while nature breeds plants for survival.

Characteristics of weeds

Certain characteristics are associated with and allow the survival of weeds. Weeds posses one or more of the following:

a) abundant seed production;
b) rapid population establishment;
c) seed dormancy;
d) long-term survival of buried seed;
e) adaptation for spread;
f) presence of vegetative reproductive structures; and
g) ability to occupy sites disturbed by human activities.

There are approximately 250,000 species of plants worldwide; of those, about 3% or 8000 species behave as weeds.

Weeds are troublesome in many ways. Primarily, they reduce crop yield by competing for water, light, soil nutrients, and space. Other problems associated with weeds in agriculture include:

a) reduced crop quality by contaminating the commodity;
b) interference with harvest;
c) serve as hosts for crop diseases or provide shelter for insects to
d) limit the choice of crop rotation sequences and cultural
practices; and
e) production of chemical substances which are toxic to crop plants
( allelopathy ), animals, or humans.

Costs of weeds

Weeds are common on all 485 million acres of U.S. cropland and almost one billion acres of range and pasture. Since weeds are so common, people generally do not understand their economic impact on crop losses and control costs. In 1991, the estimated average annual monetary loss caused by weeds with current control strategies in the 46 crops grown in the United States was $4.1 billion. If herbicides were not used, this loss was estimated to be $19.6 billion. Losses in field crops accounted for 82% of this total (Bridges; WSSA, 1992).

Another source estimates that U.S. farmers annually spend $3.6 billion on chemical weed control and $2.6 billion for cultural and other methods of control. The total cost of weeds in the United States could approach $15 to $20 billion dollars (Ashton and Monaco, 1991). Also, weed control and other input costs (e.g., seed, fertilizer, other pesticides, fuel) vary with the crop. For example, in the mid-90s, herbicides for soybeans cost $30/acre or about 47% of the $63/acre in total purchased input. For corn, the cost was $32/acre or about 28% of the $114/acre in total purchased input. And for wheat it was $6 or about 6% of the total $96/acre inputs. Several factors help determine the relative costs of herbicides from one crop to another and include the competitive ability of the crop, the weeds present, the contribution of non-chemical control practices, the tillage method, management decisions, and the value of the crop. (Ross and Lembi, 1999)

Benefits of weeds

Despite the negative impacts of weeds, some plants usually thought of as weeds may actually provide some benefits. Some attributes include:

  • soil stabilization;
  • habitat and feed for wildlife,
  • nectar for bees;
  • aesthetic qualities;
  • add organic matter;
  • provide genetic reservoir;
  • human consumption; and
  • provide employment opportunities.

Weeds have a controversial nature. But to the agriculturist, they are plants that need to be controlled, in an economical and practical way, in order to produce food, feed, and fiber for humans and animals. In this context, the negative impacts of weeds indirectly affect all living beings.

So I think this dam post is long enough lol
Cannabis isn’t a weed and anyone who thinks it is a weed don’t like this post.
Polls close at 11


I’d never refer to it as “A” weed, just “weed.” But that’s just because super duper wonder drug is just too long to say each time.


Hydroponic setup is rather simple, and not all that expensive in my opinion, I’ve done both, hydroponic and soil, so far soil is more successful than hydroponic for me. Hydroponic gets you to a faster yield with smaller plants, soil longer to yield, bigger plants, therefore more yield.


My take on this is because they don’t as a whole or even probably 1% Practice natural sustainable farming like no till and using natural amendments and living soil food web for healthy soils and ultimately healthy (for us) end produce but instead mainline their crops like they did the human batteries in the movie the Matrix using the depleted soils so the produce is lacking in nutrients just like the white processed Morton table salt stripped of all the good minerals we need.
Why do some tomatoes taste far better than others? Many examples out there. If they did a study and maybe they have I don’t know between tomatoes or whatever plant grown in nutrient rich living soil as compared to the force fed soils and then analyzed the fruits for “goodness “ content using various important metrics like mineral content and % of vitamins and others I can’t think of atm my common sense tells me Mother Nature would win hands down
Silly humans


I hear they grow faster and produce higher yields but at what costs?
I’ve heard that too but chose to not pursue that method for many reasons all tied to the long term unknown effects on us and the planet.
Mother Nature rules and man can’t beat her.
Humans keep trying to reinvent the wheel but they keep getting flats for profit


When dragsterdad sent me the article I told him best way to find out is ask for knowledge and opinions and I knew you have all this info in your head. Thank you


@dragsterdad we are back to read and read, listen to others and then what you think best. We got some good reads and I agree on watering slowly because if not I splash on leaves and make them spotted and I have 2 on 1 plant and I read not to trim off until you can get it off gently, or maybe one of the growers told me when I freaked out thinking something was wrong :laughing::laughing:


Thanks for the great read @THCCBD

On the weed subject, many plants that others call a weed are in my life a herb /and or wildflower. I plant many weeds in my yard for the butterflies and bees and some to make my own teas and salves. I’m sure my neighbors call them weeds. It’s amazing to me how many useful plants people generally call weeds. I was taught that a weed is just an unwanted plant. what is a weed to one person may not be to another. I didn’t realize there were so many definitions those are good ones @Skydiver
But anyway, I love my many different weeds :v::green_heart: