With potting soil treated properly with water-absorbing polymer crystals, you can go on vacation without worry that your house plants or container gardens will stress out and shrivel from lack of water.
In fact, when used properly, Water Crystals will cut in half-and sometimes more-the frequency for watering house plants and plants in container gardens.
But, do not wait until the last minute before your vacation to treat your soil.
You should apply Water Crystals at least 3-5 days before leaving and then saturate the growing medium before departure, or you could return to a disappointment. The earlier application gives the soil, polymers, plant and pot time to adjust to each other. The plants will find the water stored in the polymer crystals and drink from them as needed. Hydrated polymers will also keep the potting soil more moist than soil not treated with them.
In new pots, Water Crystals should be allowed to expand fully upon initial watering. You have two ways of doing this: Pre-swapping the polymer before adding to your potting mix; or adding the crystals in their dry state into your growth medium.
You can pre-swell by adding water at a rate of at least 12-15 gallons of water per pound of dry crystals. That's an equivalent to about 4-8 teaspoons for one gallon of water. The polymer will hold much more; but this rate will get you started. Allow the mixture to stand at least 20 minutes or until water has been absorbed.
The less-messy way to incorporate the crystals to you mix is to add them dry crystals. To promote the uniform distribution of absorbed water, you must thoroughly mix or till the polymer crystals into the soil or growing medium.
After blending with the soil, a subsequent watering should be applied to maximize water content. Blend at a rate of 5-12 parts soil to one part gel (by volume). The normal ratio is 8: 1, but this can be varied depending on the soil composition, climatic conditions (temperature and humidity), and the type of plant to be grown.
To treat existing container plants or container gardens, make holes with a pencil, dowel rod, screwdriver or other such implemented in the planting medium to approximately 2/3 the depth of the pot. You're goal is to be sure that the Water Crystals reach the root zone. Add dry crystals evenly to the holes as follows:
Pot Diameter Amount # of Holes
6 inches 1/2 teaspoon 4 Holes
8 inches 1 teaspoon 6 Holes
10 inches 2 teaspoons 8 Holes
12 inches 4 teaspoons 10 Holes
For larger containers, follow the progress illustrated in the table.
Then, soak, but do not over-saturate, the soil. Remember, it will take 15-30 minutes for mid-graduation crystals to absorb the excess water; less time for granular powder.
Water Crystals or any polymer crystals are not substitutes for good watering and fertilizing. They only augment good irrigation treatment practices.
They increase the medium's water holding capacity and enhance the efficient use of available water by the plant. No soil should not be allowed to completely dry out.
Feeder roots seek out the filled reservoirs of Water Crystals, penetrating their membranes to provide nourishment to the plant.