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Do you love the look of houseplants but find they tend to die quickly in your home? If so, you're not alone. Many people struggle to keep healthy houseplants because they need to learn how to know when to water plants properly!
Almost every plant requires watering only when the top inch of soil is dry. An easy way to tell if your plant needs watering is by using a soil moisture meter, where you dip your probe into the top inch of the soil to see how moist it l is.
The key is knowing which soil, light and watering conditions are best for each type of plant. Follow the helpful tips below to keep your houseplants thriving!
If you are interested in getting a soil moisture meter, check out the deals from my go-to place for houseplant supplies to ensure you get the best deal.
Watering Indoor Plants
Water is essential for all living things. But how much do you really know about watering your indoor plants? There's a lot to unpack when watering indoor plants, including soil type, light, and temperature.
There are some basic rules you can follow to keep your houseplants healthy. Let's dive in and explore how each of these factors impacts how often you should water your indoor plants. First, you'll want to choose plants that are suitable for the environment where you keep them.
Second, you'll want to provide them with plenty of light, the correct amount of water, and the correct type of soil.
Houseplants need a certain amount of water to stay healthy, but too much water can be just as harmful as not enough. To prevent your houseplants from getting too much water and growing poorly, you'll have to regularly check their soil, light, and temperature.
Choose the Correct Soil
The first step to watering your plants correctly is choosing suitable soil. You may already know that plants need water, but what type of soil is best for them?
Healthy soil is vital for houseplants, providing them with the nutrients they need to grow. It also regulates moisture levels. Furthermore, soil insulates roots from extreme temperatures, protects them from pests and diseases, and gives physical support.
Healthy soil is crucial for houseplants; they would quickly die without it. To keep your plants healthy, you must select the correct type of soil for them and regularly check the condition of their pots' and planters' soils. I wrote this article on choosing the best soil for your houseplants that you will find helpful.
The Importance of Light
Another critical factor in how often you water your plants is light. Plants need light to grow, so if you want them to stay healthy, you must ensure they get enough light!
There are two types of light: artificial and natural. Artificial light is found inside and outside, while natural light comes from the sun. Plants need both kinds of light to grow, though they may need more artificial light in winter, especially if you live in England, which can get grey and gloomy.
If you notice your plants aren't getting enough light, you can either move them to a new location or use artificial light sources, like lamps and lights. If plants get too much light, you can move them back from the window or to another room with less light. I wrote this article on the importance of light to our houseplants that you might find helpful.
Signs That a Plant Needs Water
Suppose you have a plant like a Peace Lilly. In that case, you will know that when they need water, they are very dramatic and droop their leaves very quickly – one minute, they are lush and green; the next, they are floppy and turning yellow!
This happens due to transpiration, the plant's way of breathing. The roots take up the moisture in the soil, water travels up through the plant, and then water is lost from the small openings in their leaves called Stomata.
Once all the water is gone from the soil, the leaves lose their water pressure (turgor) which helps leaves to stay upright, hence the wilting leaves.
Brown or Yellow Leaves
Brown or yellow leaves signify that your plant needs water, but they can also mean something is wrong. It could be an issue with the soil, temperature, or light.
However, notice brown or yellowing leaves on just the bottom part of the plant. It could be due to insufficient water and the roots' inability to access the water at the bottom of the pot.
Check the Soil Moisture
One of the most reliable ways to know if your plant needs water is to check how moist the soil is. The best way to do this is by sticking your finger about one inch into the soil. If it feels dry, then it's time to water your plant.
If you don't want to use your finger, you can also invest in a moisture meter or use other methods like weighing your planter before and after watering to see how much water has been retained by the soil.
Know When to Water Your Plants
One of the biggest rookie mistakes is watering a plant that doesn't need it. This will only cause damage to the plant, and it's just a waste of your time and money as the plant will eventually die ☠️. On the other hand, if you don't water your plants enough, they'll die from dehydration.
Finding the happy medium is crucial to keeping your plants healthy. I use both the finger dip method and a moisture meter. For the plants that only need the top to dry out, I use my finger, but if it's something like one on my Jade plants, I will use a moisture meter to get right to the bottom of the pot to make sure it's dry.
To find out if your plants need water:
- Look at their soil. If it's dry down to the bottom, it's time to water them.
- If the top inch of soil is dry, give the plants a thorough watering (until you can see water coming out of the bottom of the pot).
- If the top inch is wet, don't water them until it dries out again.
How Often Should You Water?
You will need to water your plants differently depending on what plant it is, what type of soil or container it uses, and even the room temperature.
Light and airy soil will dry out quicker than a more dense type. Having a terracotta pot will make the water evaporate more quickly.
I water most of my plants when they appear dry, and then I continue watering until the water comes out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Usually, this is once a week. Still, with the weather in England, you are never sure what it will do :).
If you have a large indoor garden, you may have to water some plants every few days. The plants will also produce humidity, meaning that the water won't evaporate as quickly. Consequently, you can space out your watering schedule accordingly. So it's always a good idea to buy more plants 😄.
I've noticed that the humidity in my room, which houses most of my plants, has increased over time. It started at 30-40% and is now usually 60-70%, depending on the temperature outside.
Pots With Drainage Holes.
If you grow your plants in pots, ensure they have drainage holes in the bottom so the water can easily drip out and then dry out between waterings. If the soil stays wet for too long, it will start to grow mould and can lead to root rot which is usually the death toll for your plants.
I recommend plastic nursery pots for your plants which you can then put into a decorative cover pot. There are many gorgeous ones available from Patch Plants (I highly recommend their clay pot's as I have many of them!). If you don't want to use a cover pot, you could use terracotta pots and a saucer, which are great for plants such as succulents that don't like to be wet for too long.
If your pots don't have drainage holes, there are a couple of things you can do. You can poke holes in the bottom of the pots with a screwdriver. That way, the roots won't sit in water too long and rot.
Best Time to Water Your Plants.
The best time to water your plants is in the morning. Plants need a certain amount of time to dry out between waterings, so watering them in the morning is best. If you water your plants in the afternoon, the water will remain on the leaves and stems until the morning, causing the plants to rot.
Consider investing in a drip irrigation system if you have several pot plants. Drip irrigation systems water your plants slowly, which helps prevent them from rotting. Another great way to water indoor plants is with a self-watering planter.
A self-watering planter is a specialised container that waters the plant for you. You can choose between a wide selection of self-watering planters from my favourite online shop, Crocus and in stores.
Type of Water to Use For Watering Your Plants.
You may do more harm than good if you water your houseplants with tap water. Tap water can contain minerals, chlorine, and other substances that could be bad for your plants.
Luckily, I have a filter on my tap that helps remove some harmful chemicals. If you don't have this option, fill a large watering can with tap water and let it sit for 24 hours. The chlorine in the water will become airborne and eventually dissipate, making the water safe for your plants.
To speed up the process, you can boil the water and let it cool, killing germs and removing chlorine.
Mixing Water and Plant Food.
When you water your plants, you may want to add plant food. This is especially true if you last repotted a while ago. They will be hungry…!
Plant food will help your plants grow stronger roots and leaves. It will also help them resist pests and disease. Make sure to read the instructions on the amount of plant food per water, as too much can negatively affect your plants.
I always use liquid plant food and have been trying out For Peat's Sake Hungry Plants; so far, the plants like it. I mix it into my watering can before I water all my plants. It can be used at every other watering all year round, unlike some that can only be used during the growing season.
Q: What is too much or too little water?
Generally speaking, you'll want to water until the water drains out the bottom of the pot. Ideally, you want to water until the soil is moist but not soggy. Soggy soil will lead to root rot, which you do not want to deal with.
The top will be crusted or dried out if your soil is dry. If you water dry soil, excess water will sit there or quickly soak through, and your plant won't have access to the water. If the soil has dried out too much, I bottom water that particular plant so it can soak up what it needs.
To do this, place your plant in a saucer and add water until the top is moist – depending on the soil, it can take up to 30 minutes.
Q: Which plants need more water?
If your plant is withering and wilting, but you're sure it's not too dry, it could be getting too much water.
Here's a list of plants that need more water: English ivy, Dracaena Schefflera, Chinese evergreen, Corn plant, Spider plant, Chinese lantern and African violets.
These plants tend to be much more sensitive to their environment than other plants, so they need more water.
Be sure to check the soil and water accordingly.
Q: Which plants need less water?
Too much water can be just as bad as too little. If you've cultivated a plant that requires less water, it's essential to ensure it stays dry.
Here's a list of plants that need less water:
Chinese money plant
Cast iron plant
Too much water can damage these plants, so keep that in mind.
Q: What should you do to your plants if you are going on holiday?
If you aren't going home for a week or more, it's best to let your plants dry out a bit before you leave.
Before you leave, let the potting soil and roots dry out for a few days (without harming your plant!). This can be done by giving them less water; that way, you can ensure they thoroughly water the day before you go on holiday.
At this time, I usually water from the bottom up so that the capillary action will ensure no dry areas around the roots. Watering your plants from the bottom will help them last longer in between waterings.
If you are leaving for a more extended period, try to find someone to water your plants. Or, if that's not an option, you can look into a self-watering planter mentioned above to ensure that your plants have what they need until you return.
I have written an article on how to keep your houseplants alive whilst on holiday that you might find helpful.
If you notice that your plant's leaves are starting to turn brown or yellow, don't panic! More often than not, this means the plant is thirsty and needs to be watered. Look at the leaves or stick your finger into the soil to tell if your plant needs water.
Most plants need to be watered every one to two weeks; however, you may need watering more frequently during the hot summer months.
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