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How To Water Your Indoor Plants
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**Note - This is the longest page on my site. If may seem to go on forever but this (and the importance of good lighting) are the most important things you need to learn about your plants care. Do you want really good looking healthy plants? Take the time and read to the bottom. I will try not to be too boring or redundant!**

Watering tropical plants, especially at home, can be tricky. Improper watering is the main cause of death with indoor plants. Usually this would be from over-watering. However, if you are not caring for your plants on a regular schedule, under-watering can also be a problem.

Water and House Plants

Water & Plants

Advice that gives you watering intervals, amount of water, for specific plants are really not providing you with helpful or useful information. Every plant is different and you are the only one that can determine when and how much to water your house plants.

Caring for plants as a "Plant Lady", I know that the only way to determine if a plant needs water is to check the moisture level in the soil at regular intervals.

Every plant is different and only you can tell if your plant needs to be watered. I know that you love your plants but too much love (i.e. water) can kill them! That being said, please read on, Plant Lover. It looks like a lot to take in, but it is information you need to know for the sake of your plants!

House plant care questions or problems? I would be happy to answer any house plant questions as I can. Free of charge, no sign-ups or log in required!

You can send a house plant question but before you do, please finish this page on watering your indoor plants, read about how to help keep your house plant's root system healthy and the importance of lighting for your house plants. These are most important for your house plant's health and this is some of the information I will refer you to when you send an email.

The root system of a plant needs air, as well as water, to remain healthy. When the root system of your plant is constantly saturated, the roots will begin to die. When the roots die, your plant dies!

Over-watering is usually caused by watering your house plants too often, not by the amount of water given when you decide it is time to water your plants.

Maintaining a healthy root system is vital for lush, vibrant foliage. If you see signs of trouble on your plant's foliage, check the roots for problems first. Read more about the importance of a healthy root system.

Strawberry Smartpot

First, put yourself on a schedule for checking your houseplants. Do your plant care on the same day every week. Make it a point to not just water your plant, if needed (and only if needed), but also remove all yellow and brown foliage, turn your plant to promote even, full growth. Prune and shape as needed, and then give it a good cleaning with a soft cloth or a sponge. Or even a shower!

Take notice of your plants appearance as you care for it. Does it droop a little or seem to be not so green and healthy looking as the week before? Or is it looking good, no spots, no brown tips and no yellow leaves?

Think about the last time you watered your plant. Did you have to water the week before? Or was the soil still wet or damp? Did you water it anyway? Or was the soil so dry the plant was beginning to wilt?

Watering your plant is very much a cause and effect event. If your plant is looking good - green, shiny and healthy looking - then you are doing the right things. If it is wilting, yellow or spotted, not much new growth, you need to review your watering habits and make adjustments.

You will know if you are doing the right things by the way the plant responds to your care. Remember, every plant is different. Only you can tell if your plant needs to be watered.

Use your fingers to tell if the soil has dried down enough to be watered. Most plants will do fine being allowed to dry down half the height of the grow pot or even a little more. Moist soil will cling to your skin and is usually darker than dry soil. You can try the sniff test too. Wet soil smells different than dry! If you are still not sure, pull out a little soil and squeeze it into a ball in your hand. If it is moist, it will hold together.

With large pots, 10" diameter pot or larger, or a plant with compacted soil, it is a good idea to use a soil probe to check for moisture in the growing medium. These have the added advantage of aerating the root mass as you use it. Aeration is great for your plant's root system.

A good soil probe shouldSoil probe to check watering of pots be about 14"-16" long, made of aluminum (plastic probes usually break). There are notches in the side to pull up a soil sample. Moist soil will remain in the notch and dry soil will easily fall out. One of my most used (and most useful) tools as an interior plant technician! Buy a soil probe for container gardens and indoor plants in pots.Soil probe to check watering of pots

Learning the weight of your plants when they are dry and when they are wet can also help in determining if it is time to water. This is easy with plastic pots but not so much with clay pots.

With larger grow pots it is necessary to let the soil dry down much more than with a small grow pot. What that really means is, it takes much longer for a large soil and root mass to dry out sufficiently than a smaller one. Use a soil probeSoil probe to check watering of pots and a good rule of thumb would be to water when the soil is dry in all but the bottom notch of the soil probe.Soil probe to check watering of pots

Overwatering is a big problem but insufficient watering or letting your plant wilt on a regular basis is not good for it. This will most likely cause browning or spotting of the foliage over time. Be sure to check your houseplants on a regular schedule. Pay attention to visual signs such as mild wilting, browning tips, etc. and you will soon learn how to gauge when your plants require watering.

Ceramic Pot planters
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You can immerse the entire pot and rootball into standing water until all the air has been displaced from the soil or you can top-water using a watering can. When using the top-water method, make sure to wet the entire soil mass. Water should drain out of the grow pot through the drainage holes. (House plants should always be planted in containers that have drainage holes) Then allow plant to dry down as much as possible without causing it to wilt.

Some Other Things to Note -

  • When you water your plants, always water thoroughly.
  • Water should be as close to room temperature as possible.
  • Plants should always be planted in a container with drainage holes at the bottom.
  • Aerating the soil before you water is also very beneficial.
  • Make sure that any excess water is discarded when you are finished.
  • Many plants are in a stage of no or very slow growth in the winter and should be allowed to become somewhat drier. Some plants may not need to be watered at all in the winter months, after a good soaking in the fall.
  • If the heat is kept exceptionally high in the winter, it is also possible that your plants may use and need more water in the winter months.
  • Some plants use more water temporarily as heating systems are turned on in the colder months.
  • As the daylight changes throughout the year and as temperatures change, your plants water use will change accordingly.

The amount and interval of watering for each plant is different and depends on a variety of factors. These include the type of plant, the grow pot size, the light intensity, the time of year, the amount of foliage, the growing medium, the micro environment and the overall health of the plant.

A Few More Things -

  • A house plant that is set next to an air vent is going to require more frequent watering than one that is not.
  • Plants that are in a new environment often use more water as they acclimate to new conditions.
  • A plant with an abundance of foliage is going to require much more moisture than a very sparse plant.
  • If your plant is in a plastic container, it will stay moist much longer than a plant in a clay or wood container.
  • Watering is very relative to the light that your plant receives. Finish this page and then read about the importance of good lighting for your house plant's health.

All of these things should be considered as you make the decision on whether to water or not. See, I am just about finished and it wasn't all that bad, was it? Just another paragraph or so...

A Note About Self-Watering Systems - If you really have a difficult time with watering your plants properly, no matter what you do, or you are away frequently but would still like to keep your plants looking good, consider a self-watering system for your house plants. I have used these many times and they work great but, of course, you still have to put water in them. If you forget, your plants will still die! Check out these self-watering containers. They are one of the most frequently used in the interior landscape industry because they work great and they look even better! Drop an email if you have any questions about them.

Thanks for visiting and come back soon as plant care information, pictures and more are being added all of the time. I hope that your indoor tropical houseplants and all of your plants and flowers are happy, green and growing because that is why I started this site PlantAndFlowerInfo.com.

If you have indoor plant questions you can send a plant question or visit the PlantAndFlowerInfo blog for interior plant questions and answers, to post your own comment or questions or share some of your indoor plant wisdom with others. Visit the PlantAndFlowerInfo.com Facebook Page or Google+ Page, also great places to post comments and questions! Thanks again...

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