Rain is good for your garden.

But you wonder if you should water your plants if it rains.

You should still water your plants if it’s light rain because plants need 2 inches of water per week. You should not water your plants if it’s heavy rain. Always check the moisture in soil by sticking your finger before you consider watering.

In this post, I’ll help you understand if you should still water your plants if it rains. I’ll also give details on how much rain is needed so you don’t have to water your plants. And how long to wait after heavy rains.

Let’s begin.

Should I still water my plants if it rains?

It’s important to make sure that you are giving your plants the right amount of water. But this can be harder after rain. How you react will depend on three factors these are: 

  1. Amount of rain you received
  2. Amount of moisture in the soil
  3. Type of plant

Let’s look at each of these elements so you can decide how to react. 

How Much Rain You Received

This is one of the most important elements. It will determine the amount of moisture that was added to the soil. The best way to track this element is by using a rain gauge. You can then compare the amount of rain you received to the amount that you would normally give to your plants. 

Amount of Moisture in the Soil

This is more important than the amount of rain you received. Sometimes, large leaves might block the rain from getting into the soil. Because of this, the soil can still be dry, even after a period of heavy rain. 

It can sometimes be a good idea to water your garden after a period of rain. The ground will already be soft. This will allow the water to penetrate deeper into the soil, so the plant’s roots will find it easier to take up.

You will need to check the moisture in the soil of the plant. A light rain or a quick afternoon downpour may not provide enough rain to soak into the ground. If you are not sure, feel around the plant and dig down a few inches. If the soil looks and feels dry, your plants could use a good watering. If the soil is wet, you just earned a little extra time to sit on the porch, enjoy a glass of tea, and admire all of your hard work. – Brian Walker, Founder, The Landscape Tutor

Type of Plant

This is the most critical element. All plants need water. But the amount they require can differ dramatically. Some plants will thrive in wet environments. They can never get too much water. For others, a small amount of rain can sustain for the rest of the year. 

Most of the gardeners I asked thought it’s not a good idea to water plants if it rains. You can see it in the poll below.

How much does it have to rain to not water plants?

Whether you should water after the rain will depend on the amount of moisture in the soil. This is less about the amount of water you have received and more about the condition of the ground. This is known as the wilting point, where the soil becomes too dry for the plants to grow. 

There are a few types of soil, each with a different capacity to hold water. You should follow these guidelines: 

  • Sand. Sandy soil will require at least an inch of water per foot of soil
  • Clay. You’ll need 1.8 inches per foot of soil. 
  • Loam. This material has the highest wilting point. It will be 2.2 inches of water per foot. 

There are a few ways that you can determine the amount of water in the soil. You can get a moisture meter at your local hardware store. This will give you an accurate reading. Or you can stick a screwdriver into the soil. It should penetrate easily. If it doesn’t, it is dry and will need some more water to loosen it up. 

Regular and consistent watering is essential to quality crop growth. It is important to monitor the wetness of the soil and irrigate accordingly – it may have rained recently, but the soil may still be dry and in this case you should add additional water. If the top layer of soil is wet, additional watering should not be necessary. Regularly check soil moisture to avoid under or overwatering – you cannot always assume that because it has rained, your crops have enough. – Helen Davies – Environmental Scientist, Futurepump

How many mm of rain is enough for plants?

4 mm of rain is enough for plants to last a day. The amount of water they need depend on the plant. Native plants will often need a little less as they have adapted to the local conditions.

Is a quarter inch of rain enough for plants?

In most cases, a quarter of an inch of rain will be enough to avoid needing to water your garden for the day. But there is a simple way to confirm this. You can put rain gauges around your garden. Then, water as you normally would. This tells you how much your garden receives on average. 

If the rain is less than this amount, you might need to give it a little top-up. If it exceeds this amount, you don’t need to worry about adding more water. 

How long to wait to water after rain?

You should wait until the top 1-inch of the soil has dried out before you water after rain. How long you will need to wait until you can start watering again will depend on the type of soil you have. For example, clay soil will absorb more water, holding the moisture for longer.

What happens when your plants get too much rain?

Plants need water to survive. But if there is too much moisture in the soil, it can cause problems. It can close air pockets, so the plants won’t be able to access oxygen. In effect, the plants will drown. There are a few signs that this is occurring: 

  • Leaves will turn brown
  • The water pressure causes lesions on the leaves
  • Stunted growth

What to do if your garden receives too much rain?

You don’t want your plants to drown after receiving a downpour. There are a few ways that you can protect your garden from heavy rain. These options include

  • Avoid soil compaction. The last thing you want to do is make the soil compaction worse. Soil compaction will make it harder for nutrients to enter the water, so water will pool more easily in the future. Because of this, avoid walking in muddy areas. You can also aerate the soil to reduce compaction. 
  • Stop pests from taking advantage. Sometimes, the wet weather can bring out pests, like slugs, which can do a lot of damage to your garden. The best way to prevent this is by being proactive. Set traps before the rain starts. You should also check the plants for signs of fungal infection. 
  • Improve drainage. The worst thing that can happen is for the water to remain to pool in your garden. This means that you will need to wait even longer before the soil dries out properly. You might need to dig a trench, to give the water somewhere to flow to. 
  • Avoid the fertilizer. At this moment, the plant is already overwhelmed. Adding fertilizer to the mix isn’t a good idea. Plus, it won’t be in any position to absorb it. Either the fertilizer will be washed away or the roots will be too damaged to use it. 

The good news is that most of the plants that have been overwatered can be expected to make a full recovery.

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