Improper watering is a leading cause of plant death. About 90 % of plant deaths are caused by overwatering. Let’s dive into how to water indoor plants.
Watering your plant sounds so simple, fill your watering can and empty it above your plant pot. But as soon as you bring a plant into your home, you soon find out that it’s not always that simple. Too much water and your plant will drown, too little water and you will see the leaves shrivel.
And how exactly do you water, do you follow a fixed schedule or do you check your plants every day? How do you recognize that a plant has received too little or too much water and what can you do about it if that has happened? All these questions about watering your houseplants are answered in this blog.
Once you start following these tips, you’ll never be haunted by the memory of crunchy, withered leaves or brown, muddy plants again.
Although there is no universal watering method for indoor plants, since the need for water depends on the location of the plant, types, climate, soil, among other variables, there are some golden rules that you can follow while you know the particularities of your plant.
Table of Contents
Why plants need water
A plant is always going to be growing. It’s going to keep putting out roots, bigger stems and more leaves. What causes them to grow is through a process called photosynthesis. In the process of photosynthesis, water is essential for the plant to capture carbon dioxide (CO2 ) to transform it into the oxygen we breathe.
Water is not only necessary for the plant to synthesize its own food, but it also provides structural support, regulates temperature and dissolves minerals (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, absorbed at ground level) in the earth so that they reach the right place.
Plant cells can be compared to a balloon, which uses water to keep itself inflated. For this reason, when the plant is adequately hydrated, it stands upright and firm. When it lacks water, the plant looks a little droopy, the leaves point downwards. This is a sign that you are lacking water.
When you water your plant, a process called transpiration occurs, in which the water that comes out of the leaves evaporates through pores called stomata. Water is usually taken from the roots, but in its absence, it will be taken from the leaves. This is the reason why the leaves are usually the first to be affected when they have not been watered, they look fallen and then they will get dry and fall, in case the drought continues.
How much water does your plant need?
In this blog you will learn how to get to know your plant and its water needs, but you will not find exactly how many milliliters of water your plant needs. That depends on many factors and also changes during the year.
How much water your plant consumes depends, among other things, on the season, the amount of light your plant receives, the temperature, humidity and the relationship between the size of the pot and the size of your plant. In short, it is important that you learn what your plant needs. Fortunately, it is easy and also fun
Best water for indoor plants
If you can collect rainwater, it is great for watering your plants. If you are using tap water, it is best to let it sit for a few hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate. In most cases, water your plants with water at room temperature to prevent them from thermal shock.
No matter what type of water you choose, room temperature water is better than hot or cold water. Both extremes can damage the leaves of your houseplants, so it’s best to refill your watering can immediately after each session and let it sit until the next time. This way you will have plenty of time to equalize the temperature.
If your water is very hard, you can add the juice of a lemon diluted in 5 litres of water, or a few drops of white vinegar, this will avoid the calcareous halos on the soil and the pots.
When to water indoor plants
The best way to tell if your plants need water is to put your finger in the soil mixture and, if the mixture is dry, take out the watering can. If you detect any moisture, check again in a day or two. For small houseplants, you can also carry the entire container. If it looks light for its size, add water. Then lift it again and you will have an idea of how much weight the pot should have when the soil is saturated.
If you see wilted leaves, it’s time to water your plants. But you shouldn’t let your plants come to this, as they won’t be as beautiful and they will be less able to fight off diseases. Instead, try to get into the habit of checking your houseplants at least once a week to see if they need a drink.
It is better to water in the morning rather than in the evening. That way the splash on the leaves has a chance to dry out and evaporate faster throughout the day when temperatures tend to be warmer. The longer the moisture remains on the leaves of plants, the greater the risk of disease taking hold. You also need to water your plants after repotting them.
How Often Should You Water Indoor Plants
Most indoor plants need to be watered every 1-3 weeks. You should monitor your indoor plants and water when they need it, rather than on a schedule. There are several factors that affect the frequency of watering like size and type of pot, the size and type of plant, temperature, humidity, and rate of growth.
Best watering can for indoor plants
Choose a watering can with a long spout. A watering can with a long spout gives you the best control for directing water all around the soil while avoiding wetting the leaves. For many plants, wet leaves invite fungus.
How much water to use when watering indoor plants
Not all plants need the same amount of water, so if you’re not sure how much your plants need, take a look at nature. Many popular houseplants, like philodendrons, come from tropical areas of the world where it rains regularly. These species usually have large leaves that consume a lot of water to look good. These plants need more water than desert plants like cacti and succulents, which often perform better when you let the soil dry out between waterings.
The time of year can also make a difference. Many houseplants grow more in the spring and summer, but not so much in the fall and winter. If you notice weaker growth than usual, reduce the amount of water you give your plants until they start to grow again.
How to water indoor plants
Are you someone who often forgets to water your plants? Then choose one or two fixed times per week when you water your plants. This way you prevent your plants from being dry for too long.
Don’t just pour water into the pot when you walk by with your watering can, but check the soil first. Don’t just feel the top of the potting soil, but stick your finger a little deeper into the pot. Sometimes the top layer is already dry, while it is still moist deeper in the pot. If it still feels damp or even wet, skip this plant for once.
Do you want a little more security than just your finger? Then you can use a moisture meter . You stick this in the potting soil and immediately show how moist it is.
You can water in different ways. You can give so much at one time that the soil is completely soaked and the water drains from the holes of the pot, and then water again only after a considerable time. The downside to this is that it can happen that the soil is wet for too long, which damages the roots. You should also check your plants more often to see if the soil is already dry.
I prefer to give less water at a time, but to come by with the watering can more regularly. This way you can better adjust the watering of your plant. Is it winter and does your plant drink less; Then you give a smaller splash of water than when it is summer. This prevents your plant from being wet for too long or forgetting to water it. Also with this way of watering, it is important that you first check the soil before you water.
How often should you water indoor plants?
Living in a small amount of soil that dries out quickly, indoor potted plants need regular watering. However, too much watering is almost more harmful than a lack of water because too much humidity promotes the appearance of fungi that can rot the roots.
Always let the soil dry out between watering
As a general rule, water only when the soil is dry on the surface. To check whether your plant needs to be watered or not, you’ll put in your finger just about two inches deep. See, if there’s any moisture at that level, and if there is not then go ahead and give it water.
Also, observe the plant: if the leaves lose their hold, or even wilt slightly, it is necessary to water.
Adapt the frequency of watering to the season
Most houseplants should be watered year-round, but not at the same frequency all year round.
Space out the waterings in autumn-winter, a period of plant rest: for example, a plant that does well from one watering per week in summer will generally be satisfied with one watering every two weeks in winter.
Increase watering in very hot weather: Your plant, used to one watering per week, may need 2 in the middle of summer, In very hot weather: Here again, rely on the dryness of the substrate.
Adapt the frequency of watering to the type of plants
Plants with very fine foliage ( asparagus, etc.) generally need to be watered more often.
On the contrary, plants with thick, fleshy, waxy leaves are content with more spaced watering.
Special case of succulents and cacti: from November to February, do not water your cacti at all and, with some exceptions, do not water your succulents either.
Best Way to Water Indoor Plants
When to increase or decrease watering?
Increase watering when your plant:
- is in the growth period (spring-summer-autumn),
- has buds or is in bloom,
- has very fine foliage,
- is in a small jar.
Reduce watering when your plant:
- is in a period of plant rest (winter),
- has thick, waxy leaves and fleshy roots.
What happens when you overwater a plant
Yellow Falling Leaves: If the plant has too much water and then more than it can transpire, it’s gonna turn yellow. You’re going to lose a few leaves.
If the leaves of your plant are turning yellow and the new ones are falling off you must check the soil and recall how often you have watered your plant. It happens due to moisture stress. So the first indication of overwatering is yellowing leaves or yellow spots.
However, keep in mind that it is normal for plants to shed a leaf. Usually, it’s the oldest leaf when that leaf has been tired because you know leaves actually have a lifespan too. So these leaves will fall naturally.
Brown leaves: If the leaves are turning brown please check the soil. It may happen due to overwatering. Lift up the pot to check the drainage hole and check the soil. If the soil is wet, control your way of watering your plant and only water when the soil is dry.
Edema: If the plant has absorbed more water than it needs, it can cause the plant cells to expand and stress. Often these cells are filled to the point of rupturing. Edema is the type of abnormal water retention in the plant. If you see any such sign in your leaves, please stop watering your plant. Change the plant into a new pot and change the soil as well.
Root Rot: Over-watering affects the root badly. When the soil is dense it limits the ability of the root to breathe. They will then be drawn and begin to rot. It will turn the root grey and slimy and will eventually cause the plant to wilt.
In this case, you can remove the soil and you should not grow any other plant in the same soil otherwise the soil will rot the new plant as well.
The existing plant can be repotted again. Just dry the roots for one day after removing them from the pot. Put the plant in a shaded area and check for the roots. If the roots are brown or smell like rotting prune them off and repot the plant in a new container.
Wet and wilting: If your plant looks green, well-watered, and still struggling then you may have overwatered it. Insert your finger in the soil for about 2 inches down, you will be able to make it out that the soil is wet.
If the soil is wet it means your plant is struggling with overwater and if the soil is dry then please give water to your plant or give some fertilizer.
Fungus or Mold: If you’ve overwatered, Fungus or Mold can grow directly on top of the soil. When you have too much water in your soil and there’s organic material in your soil for sure because plants do need organic material to live and then this organic material will promote bacteria and fungus, especially in the presence of water.
So when you have a lot of water sitting in a pot for a very long time you’re probably going to have an infection.
What if you don’t water your plant enough?
Many plants can do better if you give just a little too little water than if you give too much water. Plants can recover more easily from too little water than from too much water. You can often recognize a plant that gets too little water from its leaves. Sometimes they droop a bit, they feel a bit less firm or they become a bit duller in color. In extreme cases, the leaves will shrivel and fall off the plant. Some plants are huge divas that hang very dramatically and with other plants, you can hardly see a difference. For example, a succulent or cactus will subtly wrinkle if it gets too little water.
If you see signs that your plant is low on water, check the soil, run to the tap, and water your plant. With most plants you will see a difference after a few hours, the leaves will feel firm again and will stand up again.
Is the soil so dry that the water immediately runs out of the holes in the plastic pot? Then it is best to place your plant in a container with water. Allow the soil to absorb water for at least half an hour so that the soil retains moisture well again. Then you let your plant drain for a while and put it back.
Get to know your plant
The most important thing when watering your plant is that you know which category your plant falls into. Should the soil always remain moist, or should it dry out? If you check the soil first every time you water, you and your houseplant will certainly be fine. You will quickly see how much water it uses and you will also notice the difference between water consumption in winter and summer. This way you never have to hesitate again when you stand next to your plant with your full watering can.