What is the Difference Between Deep Watering and Overwatering?
When it comes to watering your citrus tree, you may be wondering what the best practices are for success. Understanding the difference between deep watering and overwatering is important for the life of your lemon or lime tree. In containers, all lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit and mandarin trees should be planted in well-draining, chunky soil mix so that there are air pockets within the mix and plenty of room for the roots to spread out and grow. A soil mix that holds water for too long of a period will likely oversaturate the delicate roots and ultimately damage your citrus tree's root structure. This can be known as "root rot". When the tree's roots do not have the opportunity to dry out between watering, it is an overwatered tree. Instead of overwatering your citrus tree, the best practice is to deeply water it down to the root zone. Below is an explanation of the differences between deep watering and overwatering your citrus tree.
Deep watering is different than over watering in that deep watering refers to providing a thorough and deep irrigation to the tree's root zone. This encourages the roots to grow deep into the soil, promoting a stronger and more drought-resistant root system. Deep watering is typically done less frequently than shallow watering. Depending on factors like soil type and climate, deep watering might be needed every 1 to 2 weeks, or even less often. You know it is time to water when the top inch or two of the soil is dry. When deep watering, you want to ensure that the water penetrates into the soil all the way to the bottom of the roots. This often means applying a larger volume of water during each watering session. Be sure that your soil mix is not overly dry and has not turned hydrophobic. This is when the soil actually resists the water instead of absorbing it. A good way to tell if your soil is hydrophobic is to check after thoroughly watering your tree that the soil is indeed saturated. The goal of deep watering is to saturate the soil down to the root zone and encourage the roots to grow deeper. You should check the soil moisture before deciding to water again. Some methods are to stick your finger or a soil moisture meter a few inches into the soil to gauge moisture levels.
Overwatering occurs when the tree receives more water than it can use or when the soil remains constantly saturated. This can lead to various problems for citrus trees. Here are some things to keep in mind about overwatering.
Overwatering often involves watering too frequently. If the soil is constantly wet and doesn't have a chance to dry out a bit between watering sessions, it's a sign of overwatering. Even if you water less often but apply too much water each time, it can lead to overwatering. This is because the excess water can saturate the soil and deprive the roots of necessary oxygen.
Constantly soggy soil, a muddy surface, and standing water are signs of overwatering. Be sure to let the soil dry out slightly between watering sessions to prevent root rot and other issues.
Hot and dry climates may require more frequent watering, but the emphasis should still be on deep watering rather than shallow, frequent watering. If you have citrus trees in containers, their watering needs can differ from those planted directly in the ground. Containers can dry out faster, so they might require more frequent attention. Also keep in mind that the type of soil you have can influence watering needs. Well-draining soil holds moisture differently than clay or loamy soil. Pay attention to how much water it takes to deeply water your citrus tree and adjust your watering frequency and volume accordingly. If you are looking for a quality well-draining chunky citrus potting mix, we recommend our chunky Primo Potting Mix to pot up your citrus trees.
Remember, the goal is to find a balance where the soil is adequately moistened without becoming waterlogged. Regularly monitor your trees, the soil moisture, and their overall health to fine-tune your watering routine.