Do not ask me why I decided that I needed this gadget. I think it was my ficuses. They are finicky enough as it is–I mean, let’s face it, they drop leaves for just about any reason: it’s too sunny; it’s not sunny enough; it’s too wet; it’s too dry; and of course the dreaded “you moved them” to fix any of the aforementioned conditions.
So since my oldest plant is a ficus benjaminii–the weeping fig–in a huge pot that I could never determine whether it’s appropriately wet or dry, I decided that this might be useful.
At first, I thought that the thing was ridiculous. The first 15 plants I put it in–no exaggeration–it read exactly as you see above. I put it in indoor plants and outdoor containers, many of which felt plenty moist on the surface. So I ignored the thing for a few day days.
Then I decided to try it on the large container plants that I had originally bought it for. Aha! That’s where I started getting some readings in the “moist” to even “wet” range. So not only does this meter work, but clearly I am overwatering those plants!
If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I am not into gadgets or tech much when I garden. But this particular little item is useful. Maybe I need to rethink some of my stances on things. We’ll see.
Hint: You STILL don’t need it.
Is it difficult to see or reach the surface of the soil of your houseplants? When I grew large Ficus benjamina and a few other species of Ficus, I covered the top of their pots with small pots of coleus and pothos. Well, they rooted though the drainage holes, and just stayed put. I sort of thought that it would have been easier to use a probe to reach the soil below, although I never did.
No, of course not and that’s what I always recommend when I lecture: to push your finger into the soil to determine whether it needs water. I even have developed a “down to your first knuckle ” rule for most plants and a “down to your second knuckle ” rule for those that like it drier like citrus.
Grandma’s ficus is so potbound that I can only feel the surface. So the probe get where my finger no longer can go.
So you’re right–it’s easier for me to get into these plants with the probe. It’s just a tool like anything else.