Watering Your Houseplants Properly



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If you don’t water your plants, they will die. It’s a very simple fact. However, they deteriorate also if you water them too much. Their compost becomes soggy and airless, so the roots of the plant suffocate. You want to set your goal of watering to providing your plants with adequate water only when they need it. In the summer, your houseplants will need more water than they will in winter. However, you need to keep the compost moist in winter months.

When to Water Houseplants

There are several ways to determine when your plants truly need water. First, if you rub your thumb on the surface of the compost, you can tell if the plant needs water. Using this method, you only want to water when the compost feels dry and has no sponginess left.

You can tap on clay pots with a cotton reel attached to a pencil. A dull note will tell you the compost is moist. If it rings instead, you should water that plant.

You can use moisture-indicator strips. All you do is insert them into the compost and leave them. They change color when the compost is dry so you will know when to water.

Finally, they sell moisture meters. These have a thin, pencil-like probe that you push into the compost to measure the moisture level on a dial. These are pretty efficient, but if you repeatedly use the meter, the probe can damage the roots.

Basic Ways to Water Houseplants

The most used way of watering houseplants is by letting water dribble out of a small watering can straight onto the compost. This is known as “over the rim” and the goal is to fill the space above the compost to the rim of the pot with water.

Another way of watering would be to set the pots in bowls of water and let the plant “drink” what it needs. When you remove the pot from the bowl of water, all excess water will drain away. Air plants (such as Tillandsias) should be misted. Misting means soaking the plant’s leaves with water. Others are watered by filling their little flower or leaf cups up with water.

Watering Houseplants on Vacation

Most people lovingly look after their houseplants throughout the year. These same loved plants deteriorate and die when their loving people go on vacation, leaving them to their own accord for weeks at a time. Remember that it’s often better to rely on some sort of automatic watering system than a neighbor. Neighbors get busy.

Your large plants can be left in their saucers but place them on plastic sheeting in a lightly shaded room. During the week before you leave for vacation, water them several times. If your vacation is only a week to ten days, your plants will be alright during that time.

Small plants can be put into large trays with 1cm of water in the base. This will keep them alive for a while if you set them down in a lightly shaded room. You could also put a capillary mat on a draining board and trail one end of the mat into a sink filled with water. The other end of the mat can be put into a bowl of water and you would then place your plants on the mat. This works best for plants in plastic containers filled with peat-based composts.

Helping Plants That Have Not Been Watered

You can sometimes save plants that have not been watered. Plants that are under watered usually wilt and then eventually die. Once a plant is wilting, a time comes when no matter how much water you give it, you cannot save it.

Some of the time, though, you can revive a wilted plant. Set the pot in a bowl with 3-4 cm of water in it. Then prune the plant by removing faded flowers and mist the leaves. When moisture rises to the surface of the compost, take the plant out of the bowl and place it in light shade for a day or two.

Fixing an Overwatered Houseplant

If your compost becomes completely saturated with water, especially from over watering, there is no air for the roots of the plant and it will wilt, the leaves becoming limp. A slime will cover the compost. If you notice this early enough, you can fix it. Take the pot and turn it over. Slip the root ball out of the pot. Wrap several pieces of paper towels around the root ball to soak up some of the water. Remove any root mealybugs. Leave the root ball wrapped like that until it is almost dry.

When it’s almost dry, you can repot the plant into a clean pot with fresh compost. Leave it along for a few days before you water it. Remember, it was just soaked! Don’t place this plant in direct sunlight until you know it’s completely healed.

Taking care of your plants isn’t difficult if you just pay attention to their needs. You will reap the rewards in the long run by having lush plants to decorate your home with.


Here's the Right Way to Water Common Houseplants

"When in doubt, feel the soil."

Sometimes caring for your plants feels like a full time job. There's so much to remember, from feeding your plants to making sure they get enough sunlight. To make it just a little bit easier for you, I spoke to Christopher Satch, a plant scientist at The Sill, to break down exactly when you should water the most common houseplants. But first, here are a few general rules to remember.

Satch suggests thinking of soil like a dry sponge—it repels water at first rather than immediately absorbing it. "If you’ve ever watered a plant, and the water immediately came through the bottom, then you have not watered that plant. The water went around the soil, not into it, and for many plants, it’s wise to have drainage, because you can soak them to be sure that they are absorbing the water," he explains.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the amount of water your little green baby needs depends on its size. Smaller plants need more attention and frequent waterings than larger plants. Additionally, plants that get more sunlight also need to be watered more frequently. As a general rule, Satch says, "the amount of water to use is always about ¼ to ⅓ the pot’s volume of water." And if after all that you're still confused, he has a few parting words of wisdom for you: "When in doubt, feel the soil!"

Now without further ado, here's how to water the 15 most popular houseplants.


Cacti & Succulents : keep soil dry.

Cacti and succulents: keep the soil dry, PLEASE. Many people, including me, killed their succulent by overwatering it. Water approximately once a month and make sure that all the water is well drained out of the pot through the drainage holes. My first casualty was a succulent that I drowned. I wish I knew at that time that succulents prefer dry and well-drained soil, like cacti. So, don't water them as frequently as the other houseplants. Aloe Vera and Echeveria are among the most famous types of succulents, and therefore are no exception to this rule.


Benefits for Indoor Plants

Because hydrogen peroxide’s makeup is so similar to water's (nearly the same, but with an extra oxygen molecule), its has been used for years to supply health benefits to plants. If the hydrogen peroxide is diluted properly, the added oxygen molecule increases the plant’s ability to absorb more nutrients, promoting faster and healthier root growth.

Consider how plants react to rainwater. Mercury News writes that plants look healthier and greener after rainfall partly because of the higher levels of nitrogen in the air during rain and partially because rainwater contains higher oxygen levels than regular tap water. Using hydrogen peroxide on your indoor houseplants operates on the same principle: It introduces additional oxygen to promote plant health.

Hydrogen peroxide can also serve as an effective pesticide and fungicide. When diluted correctly, it can break down fungal tissues such as powdery mildew, writes Grow Your Yard. As a pesticide, a spray of the diluted solution can help eliminate gnat larvae, cutworms and other parasites, Den Garden adds. A hydrogen peroxide spray on the foliage also helps rid plants of aphids and other insects, serving as a much safer and natural solution than some insecticides.


3. Check For Wilting And Drooping Leaves

Indoor plants wilt because the leaves lack sufficient water to be thick and plump with moisture. They may look as if they cannot hold their own weight and simply begin to wilt.

On the leaves of your house plant there are little pores called stomata. These are the pores that the plant uses to take in and release gases and moisture. When the plant does not have sufficient water, it will attempt to retain moisture by closing the stomata, halting the process of transpiration.

If the leaves are starting to wilt, you are already a bit late with watering, but it doesn’t mean that it is the end of the road for your houseplant. If you catch the problem in good time, you can most likely rectify it by watering the plant promptly. The leaves should perk up and start looking plump again quite quickly.

Be careful that you do not see wilting and drooping leaves and automatically believe that your houseplant needs water, as this is sometimes a sign of another, unrelated problem.

A bit of further investigation may be required as a plant can wilt and droop for other reasons too, which include overfeeding (excessive fertilizer), over-exposure to direct sunlight, disease or insect infestation, root rot, and overwatering too!


There are hundreds of species of Peperomia with dramatically different appearances, making them really popular with houseplant lovers. Most have succulent characteristics, so it is best to wait until the top two inches of soil is dry, before watering thoroughly. They are fairly drought tolerant, so can cope with a little neglect.

If you want to read more about caring for any of the plants mentioned above, simply click on the links as I have covered each in an in depth care guide.

If you’d like to learn more about caring for houseplants and growing indoors, see here for my most recent articles. If you need a little help looking after your plants, I’ve also put together some resources. My recommended resources section has loads of information, books and suggested tools that can help you grow amazing indoor plants.

Welcome to Smart Garden Guide

Hi, I’m Andrew, and Smart Garden Guide is my website all about indoor gardening and houseplants. I’m here to share my experience and help you have more success and enjoyment growing plants. Enjoy your stay at Smart Garden Guide.


Watch the video: How to Water Houseplants. When u0026 How I Water Indoor Plants


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