Check your plants regularly for signs of distress to help determine when to water. Plants that are getting the right amount of water have healthy green leaves, full foliage, and normal growth rates. The leaves are turgid (not wilted). The following signs can indicate that a plant is receiving too little water:

  • In some plants, leaves turn from shiny to dull as a first signal of water stress. The color may also change from bright green to blue green or gray green.
  • New leaves and leaves that aren’t stiff wilt. Stiff leaves, such as holly leaves and pine needles, don’t wilt as they dry out, but new growth on these trees does.
  • Leaves in full sun may scorch. The part of the leaf most perpendicular to the sun overheats and dies, leaving a brown, dead spot.
  • Flowers fade quickly and fall prematurely. Older leaves turn brown and dry and fall off.
  • Grass blades wilt by rolling or folding. This exposes the underside, which is dull and grayish.
  • Footprints in wilted grass persist instead of disappearing as the grass blades spring upright.
  • Little or no growth occurs.

A dry soil surface is not a sign of water need. The surface always dries out first and is not a true indicator. Check whether the soil down deep near the plant roots is still moist.