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Watering Tips to Help Your Houseplants Thrive

  • 4 min read

Watering Tips to Help Your Houseplants Thrive

Watering can be surprisingly tricky whether you’re new to houseplants or a long-time expert. All plants have different watering needs, and these needs will change if you repot them, move house, or even when the weather changes. To help keep your plants thriving, check out these watering tips:

Mind What Kind of Water You Use

There are three types of water you can use to water your plants: hard water, distilled water, and soft water. Both hard and soft water come from the tap and contain different minerals based on your location. Typically, tap water is fine, as long as you avoid soft water. Soft water has higher salt content than its harder counterpart, which can damage your plants in the long run. Hard water, on the other hand, contains higher levels of the minerals calcium and magnesium, which aren’t harmful to plants in small amounts.

Ideally, distilled water is the best to use for sensitive houseplants, especially if you aren’t sure whether or not your water is hard or soft. However, what matters most is your water temperature. Room temperature water is safest for plants, as hot water can burn the roots and cold water can shock them.

Water Houseplants
Distilled water is the best to use for sensitive houseplants
Photo by Thirdman

 

How Much Water Should You Use?

Another essential aspect of watering your plants is to determine how much water you should use. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear answer to this question since all plants are different. Some houseplants, like succulents, need less water than others, and other plants still may need consistently moist soil and humid conditions to thrive. Always research the watering needs of each houseplant before you water them for the first time. 

In addition to plant type, the surrounding environment can also affect how much water your plants will need. Typically, brighter sun and warmer temperatures lead to more frequent watering.

Watering During Dormancy

Your plants will need less water during dormancy. Dormancy occurs when a plant’s growing season ends. Like trees in winter, your houseplants will enter a “sleep mode” to conserve energy and resources. During dormancy, it’s best to give your plants half as much water as you’d normally give them. 

Water Houseplants
Always research the watering needs of each houseplant before you water them for the first time

When You Water Matters!

Another aspect to consider with watering your houseplants is when you water them. Typically, most people water their plants in the early morning or early evening. For houseplants, watering in the morning is a great habit to get into since a morning drink will provide your houseplants with plenty of material to photosynthesize throughout the day. To synthesize sugars, plants require carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight. In addition, photosynthesis occurs as long as the plant’s getting some sunlight, so why not provide your plants with a little boost in the morning to keep them going all day? In addition, morning waterings give your plants plenty of time to dry off any excess water that falls on the leaves.

Pay Attention to How You Water

For some plants, how you water them can make a big difference. When you choose to water your plants, there are several ways to do so:

1. Misting

Misting is a trendy way to keep your houseplants’ moisture content high, especially if your home is relatively dry. Most tropical plants may require some extra humidity, but typically, you don’t need to mist plants as the only way of watering them. Misting adds moisture to the air and leaves, which is great for some plants and harmful for others. Desert plants like succulents store water in their leaves instead of absorbing it, and misting can lead to mold or fungal growth on your plant's leaves. The best time to mist a plant is when you’re working with tropical plants that need high humidity, propagating seedlings, or growing air plants.

2. Bottom Watering

Another recent trend for watering plants– especially those that don’t like getting their leaves wet– is bottom watering. This technique involves placing your houseplant’s pot in a tub of room temperature water and letting your plant drink freely for about fifteen minutes. This technique is especially effective for plants that require high-draining soil, as long as you let your pot drain completely after going for a dip.

3. Watering With a Can or Bottle

The most common way to water houseplants is with a watering can or watering bottle. For houseplants, a watering can with a long, thin nozzle works best to get water directly to the roots, and a watering bottle does the same but on a smaller scale. When you water with a can or bottle, avoid getting any excess water on your plant’s leaves.

Water houseplants
The most common way to water houseplants is with a watering can or watering bottle

 

Monitoring Moisture

In addition to when, where, and how much to water, it’s essential to note your soil’s moisture content between waterings. Since every plant is different, you’ll need to check how moist your soil should be before watering it. Some plants may need dry soil to water, and others may need moist soil.

1. How to Monitor Moisture

To monitor the moisture content of your houseplants, stick your finger at least an inch into the pot. Let it sit for a few seconds, and then take your finger out of the pot to see if any soil sticks to it. If your soil’s dry, it’s usually time to water. Moisture meters are another way to measure your soil’s moisture content and may provide more accurate readings.

Moisture meter
Moisture meters are another way to measure your soil’s moisture content and may provide more accurate readings
Photo credit: greenobsession.com

2. Signs of an Overwatered/Underwatered Houseplant

Your plants will tell you if they’re getting too much or too little water. Overwatered houseplants will appear wilted, have yellowed leaves, and new growths may have brown tips. In addition, an overwatered houseplant will neither grow nor perk up from watering, and they may also smell like wet dirt. Underwatered houseplants will grow slowly and appear wilted, with brittle leaves that fall off the main plant. An underwatered houseplant will also perk up after watering them.

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