You do not have to be born with a talent for watering indoor plants.
So, you don’t need to think you don’t have a green thumb!
The number of times I have been asked: “How do you water your house plants? Do you either drown them or fry them?””.
There are a lot of people who wonder when to water their indoor plants and how to do it correctly.
Since each plant is different and has different needs that depend on its surroundings, I hesitated when writing an article about indoor plants watering.
A snake plant appears to be a snake plant, no matter where you put it. However, watering frequency varies based on the climate the plant is in. Water a Snake Plant in Arizona more often than one in Florida because the air in Arizona is so much dryer than that in Florida. Dry air enables the soil to absorb moisture more quickly, so more frequent watering is required).
Answering the question about watering indoor plants is not an easy task.
It does not matter which plants you have! Some plants will be more tolerant than others, and might play well with a watering schedule that occurs the first Saturday of the month.
Plant care articles on a particular plant can be found online for free if you are having difficulty with that plant. However, this article may be of help if none of these articles helped, or if you need watering tips for many plants, or if you do not have an extensive collection of indoor plants.
How can you determine whether to water your plant or not? Here is a list of steps you can take.
This process now works for me and my plants! It took a lot of trials and errors, but I finally learned the tricks.
1. KNOW YOUR HOUSE PLANTS
The first thing you need to do before watering is to identify which type of plant you are dealing with. Some need their soil completely dried out in between waterings, while others like their soil moist but not too soggy.
There are a number of things that would determine a plant’s soil conditions, including how much direct sun exposure they receive; how humid their surroundings are; what season they are in; and what size pot they are in.
- TYPE OF HOUSEPLANT
You want to make sure you know what plants need water, so you need to research the needs, before watering them. Occasionally, you will find this information written on the tag that came with your plant’s pot at the time of purchase.
- NATURAL LIGHT ACCESS
You will also need to look into whether your house plant is in the right spot after you have determined its basic needs. The soil humidity will be affected by exposure to more or less natural light. Some plants prefer bright light, while others prefer indirect medium light. Plants that are in bright lighting will dry out their soil quickly. Plants that are in shaded corners of your home will take longer to dry out their soil.
How fast the potted plant’s soil dries depends greatly on how dry your home’s air is. Whenever growing ferns or tropical plants that thrive in high humidity, it is very important to keep the soil moist; not too soggy; not too dry. One of the most difficult conditions to recreate in a dry environment is watering, which is typically done wrong.
- TIME OF YEAR
In my case, for example, I need to water my plants more often in the winter than I do in the summer. With time, you’ll notice that your watering frequency will need to change based on the season. Growing season is usually between spring and summer, however, this is not the case. My house stays warm and extremely dry in the winter due to forced air heating since I live in a region that gets really cold and dry. I notice that the soil dries out more rapidly in winter than when it is in spring or fall.
- TYPE OF POT
Material used to make pots retains moisture in different ways. Terracotta pots are known for their porosity, which allows their soil to breathe, so that they dry out slower than plastic pots in between waterings. The pots differ in their materials, as well as whether or not they have drainage holes. Pots with drainage holes allow the soil to drain excess moisture and dry faster. Those pots that have no drainage holes collect excess water, causing the soil to stay moist longer. However, this might not work for all plants. Check out my article on Planting in Pots Without Drainage Holes if you’re looking for more information.
- SIZE OF POT
Here’s one that’s easy to understand. If your plant is in a bigger pot, you need to water it more. I suggest you give it between 1/3 to 1/4 the volume of the pot’s water.
2. CHECK FOR SIGNS
You cannot tell if your plants are THIRSTY by talking to them.
If you don’t have water, they can send you signs that they need some. At least, they try to avoid it. Unfortunately, the symptoms of under watering are usually the same as those of over watering.
These symptoms indicate a watering issue. They may be due to excessive or insufficient watering, low humidity, incompatible water, or insufficient watering.
In this follow-up article, we’ll troubleshoot all these issues.
Watering indoor plants problems are typically caused by:
- LEAF DROP
- BROWN TIPS
3. DETERMINE IF YOUR PLANT ACTUALLY NEEDS WATER
There is really only one step to watering indoor plants; determining if your plant needs water in the first place!
It’s easy to figure out two foolproof ways to do that!
- MOISTURE METER
the tool is for those who really want to delve deep into the soil to make sure it’s time to water the plant. There are plants that like their top soil dry, and you should not water them until the top two inches of soil feels dry. A moisture meter is more accurate than your finger in distinguishing between moist and wet levels. Maybe you simply don’t want to dabble in dirt and get your nails all black…ouch! Some plants thrive on moisture, but drown if it gets too wet.
Your finger inserted into the soil will help you determine whether the soil is damp, dry, or soaked! You may have to dig deeper to determine the soil conditions for some plants, but if you don’t mind that, this is probably your fastest and cheapest method of determining whether or not your plant needs water. I know my finger isn’t always reliable when I water plants because my hands are usually wet and I am not always sure if the moisture on my finger is due to the soil or my previously damp hands.
4. TYPE OF WATER TO USE
At last, the time has come when your plant needs water!
Let me take a moment to remind you that it is important that you also know what type of water you have in your tap since you already know what type of plant it is and what amount of water and light it requires.
The water in your tap is safe for your plants, but some myths exist about whether or not chlorinated water is safe.
Our water in the town we live in is extremely hard, so we have a water softener for our bathroom faucets. We use water from our kitchen tap because it doesn’t contain softeners and is great for our plants. Salts contained in softened water eventually build up in the plant’s soil, so softened water is not good for house plants!
So what’s good?
- TAP WATER
Since I do not keep a watering schedule, I collect water from the faucet a few hours before I plan to water my plants. It is possible to use other options to tap water to make your plants use their water more wisely, by not causing them to burn old roots or burn the tip of their leaves. Water from these locations can be purchased through the following companies.
- TAP WATER WITH FILTRATION SYSTEM
Watering your plants with filtered water can be a great option for those who have a filtration system installed.
- WELL WATER
Well water has been used to water indoor plants by some people, and it works for them. However, some well water can contain too much alkalinity, which can harm plants accustomed to more acidic water.
- RAIN WATER
This is a great way to go. I always use rain water for my plants and garden. I never use it inside because I find it too painful to move the rain barrel back and forth back and forth. Additionally, the winters are extremely cold here so using rainwater would be impossible. Additionally, rainwater can contain pollutants, which can harm some houseplants.
- DISTILLED WATER
Whenever possible, I make sure to use distilled water for all of my tropical plants. I am doing everything I can to keep the foliage green and free of brown tips.
- BOTTLED WATER
Bottled water would probably be expensive if you used it for one very specific and precious plant in your house. Not for all.
5. HOW TO WATER YOUR PLANTS
You may ask, “How much should I pour and how should I water?”
As far as quantity is concerned, you can either go with the 1/3 to 1/4 volume of your pot method described here above or add a good amount of water to your pot until the water drains into a bottom tray.
There are three ways to water a plant;
- WATERING CAN
Pour water directly into the pot. The water may need more or less time to soak into the soil depending on how dry the plant is.
The smaller the space between the pot’s rim and the soil, the faster water will drain out. If the soil is packed close to the rim but exceptionally dry, water will stay on top of the surface soil for a while. The soil should be given a drink once it has absorbed all the water on the top surface of the tray and the soil from the bottom tray. Just give it one more drink. If your plant gets too much water in the bottom tray after a couple of hours, remove the excess water in order to avoid root rot.
- BOTTOM WATERING
The bottom tray needs to be filled until the top rim reaches the water level. That method is slower and gentler, but it’s quite effective. The more you pour, the faster the soil will absorb the water. Water your plant when there is excess water in the bottom tray after a few hours. When that occurs, remove the excess water to prevent root rot.
If you have many plants, this also is a slower, but gentler method, but it could be very time consuming. I do the same for my Kokedama and it has worked very well for many years. Simply drop your plant in your sink or tub filled with room temperature water for a couple of hours. It should drain completely before you place it back into the bottom tray. Check it a few hours after you have placed it into the bottom tray to ensure that there is no water standing in the tray!
There you go!
Owning plants should be easy since watering them is the one basic skill required. All skills need to be learned, and you have learned that there are no simple answers or schedules when it comes to watering plants.
It’s just a matter of knowing what your plant needs!
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I am a new gardener - from the covid generation. From gardening, I know how to be more patient and tend to other things besides myself.
I'm sure there are many new gardener like me. I hope I can give us helpful information through this All Things Gardener site (which is our lovely website, of course). Let's be better of taking care of our "green child" together!???
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