How NOT to learn to water your garden


These last many weeks with no rain remind me of my garden-coaching days, when I’d show clients how to hand-water the plants that need it. I’d explain the reasoning behind the amount of water to give each plant – that the root zone needs to be drenched – and demonstrate how long to dowse a plant or two.

So I wondered if Youtube could teach my drought-stricken neighbors to stop spraying the foliage and instead, drench the root zones, among other watering how-to’s. First I searched the term “how to water the garden” and “how to water plants.” Most of the top results were about water gardens while the on-topic results covered vegetable gardens or watering systems for large areas.

But what about ornamentals, the trickier garden plants that are all different sizes and ages?

expert village

I found this guy with unknown credentials on the Expert Village channel talking about watering, not showing how it’s done. This video is even duller and so unprofessional, a false start isn’t even cropped out.

A video from the U.K. is at least professional but covers only drip irrigation, without explaining when it’s the best method and when it’s not.


Even more frustrating is one titled “How to Water”, which starts with a 30-second ad and turns out to be a home video of little Johnny playing with a garden hose. And there’s more in that vein – like “How NOT to water plants” featuring another toddler.

Want watering advice from a cute Aussie? He’s the “expert” in Victory Garden videos, which are also ad-filled.

Felder Rushing, revealed at last.

Curiously, I discovered a slew of videos about watering vegetable gardens featuring the voice of someone called “TheSonoman1976” who sounds exactly like Felder Rushing, everyone’s favorite Alabama Mississippi hippie, and surely is, though why he’s going undercover is a mystery.

Next, I narrowed my Youtube search to “how to hand water.” That ought to do it! Readers, would you have guessed that page-one results would include “Hand in Water Pee Prank“?

There’s also the “gross trick” called “Grow a Hand; Just Place in Water, Grows 600%.”

And for some reason, “How to Water Spotted Nails” shows up on page 1, too. You can’t make this stuff up.

Though off-topic, I actually love the video excitedly titled “Hummingbird drinks water from hand!!! Must see!!” At least the ad can be skipped after 3 seconds. (I’m a typically impatient watcher of videos, so seconds matter.)

Finally, learning from my search mistakes, I tried “how to hand-water plants” on Youtube, with results decidedly better than pee pranks, though an Australian supplier to commercial growers giving mathematical formulas for high-tech operations doesn’t help the home gardener much.

But all is not lost. Dave Epstein‘s video about watering containers is a good one. He talks just fast enough and talks while showing, sometimes using a split screen.

And I love this one by a nursery owner in Plant City, Florida. It’s short, ad-free, and folksy.


For me, the take-away here is that searches for gardening videos run the gamut from frustrating to useless. And this matters because people are turning to video increasingly for instruction, making Youtube now the number two search engine after Google. 

So where’s the for gardening? Or even better, something of that quality that’s free.


  1. Yes, I have noticed, more and more, that searching anything from recipes to liver cleansing turns up tricky sites where you must carefully dodge hot links that will take you spiraling down to advertising hell…..soon we will be requesting to pay for info, just to get away from all the facelift and belly-flab ads (or is it just me?).

  2. Felder was born in and still lives in Mississippi. He has a radio show on public radio on Friday.
    I’m pretty sure that’s not his voice.

  3. Well, this is why I don’t watch informational videos. Reading is so much quicker, and you don’t have to sit through someone’s drawn-out intros or folksy banter.

  4. Most of the flora I have now are in planters, and they get fitted for drip when possible.

    If I hand water, I go for the roots, but occasionally rinse off leaves (but not on roses). I leave the overhead/top of plant down watering to the sky, which I hope will be nice to California this coming rainy season.

  5. In the greenhouse business we’ve always said….Watering is the easiest job to do, but the hardest one to do correctly. It’s hard to teach but yes there definitely needs to be more education on it.

  6. Dude, tell me about it. Some of the false drops are eye-rolling indeed. I have become the search term queen, but sometimes even I struggle to get anything relevant. And some people should *not* be making videos, or at least not uploading them to YouTube.

  7. very interesting discussion on how NOT to learn to water your plants. In my experience I’d rather read through an article step by step than watch a fabricated video. However, does anyone have to learn to water plants in the first place, to do it correctly?

Comments are closed.