in regards to watering, different plants have different needs. for some plants little water is needed, for others the soil should remain moist. the frequency & amount of watering will depend on your plants’ needs, the conditions of their natural habitat, the pot it’s placed in, soil mixture, and the lighting situation & environment. the best way to learn when to water is to get to know your plants; stick your fingers in the soil.
everyone has a different watering routine based on the aforementioned factors. while i have a designated watering slash check in day each week, i still check on my plants everyday. i struggle with watering, especially when the seasons change. through observation and learning about each plant through research & experience i know when each of them needs to be watered.
when to water
- observe your plant and get to know signs of needing to be watered
- drooping or wilting leaves are a sure sign (exhibit a). however, it is best to check the soil & the roots because sometimes wilting can be a sign of overwatering & root rot 😢
- touch the soil and get to know how it feels – stick your fingers at least one to two inches deep. you can use a wooden chopstick to check deeper down – if the soil is moist, it will stick to the chopstick.
- lift the pot before & after watering to get an idea of how your plant feels as this will help you learn when the soil is dry or moist
- some people use moisture meters – this is useful for large plants in large pots because it is hard to sort out the water content (reader’s digest, 1979)
- if you aren’t sure if you should water, wait a day or two and then check again and water thoroughly
- for some plants, i water from the bottom of the pot & discard what the plant can’t take up after about half an hour
- try not to water less more frequently as this may cause waterlogging. rather soak the soil thoroughly once a plant is beyond the point of needing to be watered
- roots need to breathe so they can grow healthily by aerating your soil – stick a chopstick in carefully not harm the roots to prevent the soil from getting compacted
- adjust your watering based on the season!
how much water?
in the beginning i was so confused by watering instructions. to clear it up, i read about quantity of water in reader’s digest (1979) success with houseplants. here’s a few pointers:
- keep the potting medium moist throughout all the time
- the surface of the soil should not dry out
- water the plant enough so that it’s flowing through the drainage hole
- in general, do not let your plant stand in excess water
- when watering moisten the potting medium thoroughly
- allow the top inch or so to dry out before watering again
- water the plant until a few drops start dropping from the drainage hole
- if watering from the bottom, discard water as soon as the soil feels barely moist
- potting medium should be barely moist throughout
- allow most of the soil to dry out before watering again
- when watering just cover the surface with water so that it doesn’t drip through the drainage hole
- check with a chopstick to be sure that the entire pot is barely moist
- for these guys, watering too little is better than watering too much
last note, i use filtered water for my plants as i filter my drinking water. i leave it out overnight so that it will be room temperature by the next day. if i could i would collect rainwater. if you don’t have a filter – don’t fret! you can also boil water.