Plant care basics - Watering
Possibly the most basic part of plant care is also the most problematic. Improper watering is the most common cause of health issues for house plants. The good news is it’s easy to improve the overall health of your plants by following only a few simple guidelines!
Use the right soil mix
Proper watering requires that you provide the right mix of water and air to the roots of the plant. This is very difficult however if the plant is in poor quality soil. If the soil looks like muck, is a compact brick of dirt, or has evidence of mold or rot, start by repotting into better soil. Proper watering technique will have limited results if the soil mix is poor.
When the soil has DRIED OUT sufficiently, water COMPLETELY, SLOWLY and EVENLY
Check the care instructions for your plant in case it is a plant that requires special watering care.
As a general rule, most common houseplants should be watered when the first 3-4 cm of the soil are dry. Water meters are cheap and make determining when to water very easy. You can also put a finger in the soil up to your first knuckle to cheap for humidity. If you know your plant well enough, you can often tell if a plant needs watering by picking up the pot and feeling how heavy it is.
Water completely to ensure water reaches to the bottom of the pot and gets to the important plant root zones. Water should be added until it just starts to escape from the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot.
Water slowly and evenly to ensure that water is evenly distributed throughout the pot, and to avoid washing away soil from on top of the plant. If water is poured very quickly into a pot, it will often pass through the pot without fully saturating the soil on the top and at the sides of the pot. Use a watering can that controls the stream of water to mimick rain, or for smaller jobs a plastic condiment bottle does a great job at watering all the corners of a pot.
Do not let the plants roots sit in too much water.
Providing the right amount of air to the plant roots are very important, so it’s critical not to overwater the soil. Any situation where the plant roots sit in water for too long can lead to problems. When watering you want the soil to be wet in all areas of the pot, but not to have a large amount of water pooling at the bottom of the pot. If your pot has a drainage hole, use a tray to catch the escaping water. Once the water has drained from the pot, empty the tray so that the plant roots and medium are not sitting in standing water.
If your pot does not have a drainage hole, water slowly and carefully keeping in mind that the water you are adding to the pot will initially saturate the soil but will pool at the bottom of the pot if too much is added. We recommend using pots that have drainage because this can be very tricky to manage.
Other quick tips
Check your plants often. It’s a good way to enjoy them. It’s also the best way to stay updated on how they are doing including whether they need to be watered. Only water the plant if the soil is sufficiently dry.
Drooping leaves are a sign that a plant needs water, which should be immediately addressed.
Brown leaf tips suggest the plant has been underwatered. Look into increasing the frequency of watering.
Yellowing of the bottom leaves, black sections of the plant, and mushy leaves/stems suggest that a plant has been overwatered. Make sure you are only watering when the plant is sufficiently dry.
Many people water in very small amounts often, sometimes even daily. They give their plants a little water whenever they can so they don’t forget. This is not the way to water a plant and can lead to problems. Let’s just get back to the advice earlier in this article… water completely, slowly and evenly when the plant is dry.
Follow these watering tips and we are sure your plants will love you for it!
Plant some happiness!