How to Water Houseplants Correctly

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When it comes to watering indoor plants, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. In fact, the most common mistake plant parents make is overwatering. Yes, plants rely on sunlight and water to thrive, but even too much sunlight can be detrimental. To successfully grow plants indoors, one must learn how to water houseplants. The roots absorb the water and nourish the cells of the plant. The leaves, stems, and flowers are produced when a plant is adequately watered.

Overwatering stops the plants from breathing. Essentially overwatering is suffocating or drowning your plant. Overwatering makes it easy for root rot to occur, making your plant very sick. Aside from root rot, stagnant water will attract fungus gnats, other fungi, pests and even produce a smelly mildew odor.

Underwatering your plant is just as harmful. Many people will buy a plant, plop it on their windowsill then forget all about it. Most plants require watering at least once a week. Signs of underwatering your plant are wilted leaves and brown, brittle leaf tips. To avoid underwatering your plant, set a reminder on your phone to remind you when to water and feed your plant according to your plants’ schedule.

How to Water Moisture Loving Plants vs. Dry Plants

Some plants are water lovers, others not so much. It is essential to know the details of your plant, such as their watering and sunlight needs to ensure they will grow to their full potential.

Some plants that love moisture are:

  • Ferns
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Monkey Flower
  • Iris
  • Cattails
  • Indian Grass

Opposite the plants that love moisture, other plants prefer little water to live.

Drought tolerant plants are:

  • Verbena
  • Red Valerian
  • Bougainvillea
  • Lavender
  • Oleander
  • Russian Sage

Ways to Know Your Plant Needs Watering

Learning the best ways to tell when a plant needs watering and when it doesn’t is crucial to know how to water houseplants correctly.

Dry Soil

One way to know your plant needs watering is if the soil is dry. Stick your finger into the soil prior to ever watering your plant. If the soil feels moist and damp, or if you pull out your finger and there is soil stuck to it, then your plant is okay for the moment. When you pull out your finger, it is time to water your plant if it is dry and has no soil attached.

Weight

If your plant feels light, then that is a sign your plant needs watering. Water has a lot of weight, and there is a clear weight difference between a wet plant and a dry one. You will know if your plant needs watering by trying to move the pot it is in and determine if it is heavy or not.

Drooping Leaves

Plant leaves that appear drooping, pale, and have minimal color are good indicators of a dry plant. Whenever leaves begin dropping off a plant, a plant is very, very dry and needs water immediately.

Brown Leaves

Brown tips on leaves are another sign your plant requires some H2O. If the leaves are brown and have crispy, brittle tips, it may not be that your plant is thirsty but instead needs more moisture in the air.

Thriving Plant

If your plant isn’t thriving and looks ill, it needs water; plants cannot survive without water and sunlight. If your plant isn’t getting either of those in adequate amounts, it will die.

Death of Plant

If you don’t know how to water houseplants, some will probably die. When your plant dies, that is potentially a clear sign it needs (needed) watering. Overwatering is a common way to kill a plant but underwatering can be just as deadly. Not watering your plant enough will cause it to die. On the other hand, overwatering your plant will also cause it to fail. You must determine the correct amount of water for your plant based on the plant type preferences.

Tips for How to Water Houseplants

1. Ensure the pot is set up for success

The pot your plant is in matters. Most stores brought plants to come in temporary grow pots. Most plants can become rootbound to these pots, which inhibits plant growth. Because of that, it can be hard to water your plant. Your plant must be in the correct sized plant. The plant also must have drainage holes to help the soil dry out. The pot should be on a saucer to allow you to have a mess-free home and easy clean-up.

2. Discover your plant’s needs

Even if you don’t know how to water houseplants, you have probably figured out that different plants have different needs. For example, succulent plants prefer to be dry, making them susceptible to root rot if overwatered, and it is easy to overwater a succulent. On the other hand, Ferns are moisture-loving plants that require a lot of water to thrive. You must know your plant’s needs. Do your research to learn about your plant’s needs. You can go to your local nursery or garden center to inquire. The library and the internet are also excellent sources of information about watering your plant correctly.

3. Water plants at the base

Never water a plant by pouring it onto the leaves. The roots need to be watered, not just the leaves. The spout of your water can should be below the leaves, near the base. Wetting leaves and flowers is a waste of water and will not help your plant thrive. Watering the plants and not the roots also promote the spread of diseases.

4. Water evenly

Water the plant deep and evenly. If you water only one side of the plant, then only one side of your plant will grow. Making it crucial to water your plant evenly all around the pot. Water the plant until the water begins to drain out of the drainage holes in the pot. Make sure your plant is on a saucer to catch the draining water.

5. How to Water Houseplants: Only water when needed

You want to water your plant only when it is needed. Do not water the plant simply because you are bored or feel it is time. Check the soil’s moisture before watering, even if it has been some time since the last watering. If your plant is outdoors, reduce your watering frequency during the rainy season. When it is raining, nature is doing its job of watering your plants for you.

6. Time of day matters

Plants do best when watered in the morning; by watering your plant in the morning, you’re giving the plant time to dry out. Watering the plant late in the evening means that your plant will have to dry out when the weather is cooler. The plant will not dry out in cooler weather or without the sun, causing disease and bacteria to thrive.

7. Water slowly and thoroughly

Water your plant very slowly. Watering your plant fast means your plant is getting approximately twenty percent of the water you’re putting into the plant. Watering your plant quickly is doing nothing but wasting water and your time. Water and time are precious commodities, so water your plant nice and slow, giving the water time to saturate the soil and drain out excess.

8. Remove excess water

Dump out excess water when you are done watering. Plants do not enjoy having wet roots; even excess water puddling in a drip tray needs to be emptied promptly to prevent rot and other issues. Root rot will eventually occur if you do not dispose of excess water. Sufficiently drain and discard the water to avoid root rot and pests.

How to Water Houseplants – The Wrap-up

It is imperative to learn how to water houseplants with the correct methods. Overwatering and underwatering can both be very harmful to your plant. You must always check the moisture in the soil before watering your plant to ensure you aren’t overwatering your plant. If you have any questions about watering your plant properly, refer to this article in the future for reminders.

FAQ

Signs you are underwatering your plant are:

  • Slow growth
  • Brown, crispy leaves
  • Wilting
  • Dry soil

Signs you are overwatering your plant are:

  • Heavy, limp leaves
  • The leaves are yellowing in color
  • Soft, squishy stems
  • Soil is attracting pests like gnats
  • Mildew smell coming from the pot

You can, but it is not advisable; it is not advisable to water your plants at night. Watering your plants at night gives them less time to dry out. Wet plants or plants left in standing water are more prone to developing root rot, seed rot, and gnats. A mildew smell will begin to emit from plants standing in stagnant water. The best time to water your plant is in the morning when you are allowing your plant sufficient time to dry out.

After watering, the soil will more than likely remain very damp for about two to four hours. That is why it is best to water your plant in the morning. Watering plants in the morning is ideal since it gives it time to dry out during the day. If you water your plant at night or in the late afternoon, the cooler weather and sunset will keep the plant moist for longer; leading to problems like pests and root rot. Soil should have a damp feel, though, and the dark color should last for about a day.

How often you water your plant depends on what sort of plant you have. Generally, plants should be watered at least once a week, but you must check the soil before watering. You may need to water less often for plants like succulents, and plants like ferns will prefer water a lot more often.

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