Overwatering is the biggest killer of houseplants, so we have compiled this simple guide which applies to the majority of specimens, however there are always some exceptions so check specific plant guides for advice before watering.
1. How do you know when to water?
Check the following:
- Is the soil dusty-coloured and dry?
- Does the nursery pot feel light when you pick it up?
- Does it feel dry when you put your fingers two inches into the soil?
If you answered yes to any or all of the above, then it is probably time to water.
2. How do I water?
If the plant is still in its nursery pot inside a decorative pot:
- If on the smaller side, remove from the pot and place in a sink and water, allowing the plant to sit there and for the water to drain out of the pot before putting back in the decorative pot.
- Or water in the decorative pot, but be sure once all the water has drained from the nursery pot to empty it away.
If the plant is in a liner:
- There is no drainage so it is better to underwater than overwater. A good way to know when to stop is if the soil on top has become chocolatey-brown and is starting to gather at the top (be sure not to mistake this for a plant that has become so dry it is hydrophobic and therefore the water does not penetrate the soil at all).
- Investing in a moisture meter, like the one we have here, can be extremely helpful when determining when to water. Just make sure to follow the instructions to get an accurate reading and to remove and clean each time.
3. How much water?
Most houseplants prefer a good soaking and then being allowed to dry out, rather than constant smaller waterings.
- Soak until the water starts to drain out from the bottom of the nursery pot if the plant is in one.
- If the plant is potted in a liner, look for the soil to become chocolatey-brown and moist to the touch.
4. How often should I water?
Plants don't keep to our clock, their needs are completely dependent on the environment they are in so we can't say exactly when and how often to water.
What we can recommend, is to have a routine of checking the soil once a week, and if the signs say water do so, and if not wait a few days and check again.
Plants do crave consistency and nature places everything they need at easy reach in the wild, but in our homes we have to play mother nature. We have to be able to tell what our plants need and when based on the signs above, and others a plant can display.
A limp drooping plant (unless that is its natural form) is most likely in need of water, while a plant with yellowing leaves needs less water.