This might come as a surprise, but you know what is the number one killer of houseplants? Overwatering!
We, too, unknowingly killed the first few plants we owned! Because who doesn't? If a plant isn’t doing well, the first thing that comes to mind is that it just needs a refreshing drink, right? But don't worry, we know better now not to drown our plants in water.
To help you avoid this rookie mistake of pouring too much love—or water—into your plants, scroll down below and we'll dive into the details of plants watering for indoor plants!
Factors To Consider When Watering Plants
THE TYPE OF PLANT
As a general rule of thumb, try to think of your plant's natural environment. Is it tropical, or hot and dry, etc? This question will help you gauge their watering needs. As an example, desert natives like cacti or succulents will likely need less water than plants that come from rainforest environments.
FREQUENCY OF WATERING
Think of your plants as little children, they each have their own preferences and characteristics. Even twins have their differences! This means even two of the same type of plants MAY have different watering preferences in terms of frequency. No two plants are alike—some will need to be watered more often than the others and some will need less.
Check out our FREE PRINTABLE PLANT WATERING CALENDAR to help you track and remember your plant's watering routine and frequency.
Tip: It's good to have a watering routine or schedule, but ALWAYS monitor how your plants are reacting to your routine. Adjust, if necessary!
HOW YOU WATER
Water the soil all around instead of concentrating it on just one spot. Remember, it's the root zone that you need to give water, not just one spot nor the leaves.
Water the soil at a slow deliberate pace. Pouring too much water at once may drown and overwhelm the plant. Pour water too quickly and it'll lead the water to just run down outside of the root ball, leaving the roots at the core of the plant dry.
THE PLANT'S SOIL PREFERENCES
Before you can set up a good routine for your watering schedule, you'll need to know first your plants' soil preferences⏤do they like dry soil or moist soil?
You can do the finger trick to determine your soil's moisture levels before you go about watering them.
Finger trick - pop your finger into the soil, down to the second joint. If the soil is dry, you can water your plant. If it's wet, they're alright, but if it's just moist, check on them again in a couple of days.
If you want a more accurate way to measure the moisture the soil, you can use a soil moisture meter.
Plants use light to manufacture their own food through photosynthesis. However, the 3 lighting factors (intensity, amount, and spectrum of light) can affect how much water your plant will need. This means, if your plants are receiving more light, they'll need more watering frequency since they are more prone to drying as opposed to those receiving less light. You can check also our indoor planting lighting guide to understand more about lighting for plants.
PLANT POT (SIZE AND TYPE)
There are many types and sizes of plant pots, but some of them can affect soil and moisture retention resulting in your plants being overwatered or underwatered.
Plants in smaller pots will need to be watered more often than plants in larger pots. Plant pots made from porous materials like terra cotta may need more watering than those potted in ceramics or plastic. Check this plant pot guide to learn the details of choosing the right pot depending on the needs of your plants.
YOUR GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION (TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY)
The watering needs of plants may vary depending on the climate and your geographic location. If you live in a place with a warmer temperatue, your plants might need to be watered more often as plants will dry out faster. If you live in a cooler climate, then you can water your plants less often.
If the humidity is high in your area, this might be beneficial for plants who like humid climates, plus, this also means you can water less often as the soil dries out slower in humid climates. If it's dry and humidity is low in your location, you can mist your plants once or twice to increase humidity.
The quality of the water you're using can impact the soil, and thus the growth of your plants. Here are two common tips you can follow when watering:
- Use distilled water or a filtration system for watering indoor plants. Tap water may be high in salts & minerals which can affect your plants.
- Use room temperature water. You can let it stand for a day or so to remove any chlorine from it.
SEASON OR TIME OF YEAR
Most plants need more watering during the summer months as they are absorbing more sunlight.
Plants go dormant or "hibernate" in the cooler, darker months so they'll need less watering.
Frequently Asked Questions About Indoor Plant Watering
How much should I water my plants?
Much like different plants need varying amounts of light, different plants need varying amounts of water⏤there's really no fixed amount of water suggested per plant. It's a judgment call that depends on the factors mentioned above. When in doubt, water less. It's usually better to underwater than overwater. But if a plant begins to dry or look burnt, you’ve let it dry out too much.
How often should I water my house plant?
You always gotta look out for your plants' warning signals (e.g browning leaves mean more watering is needed; yellowing leaves mean less watering).
Here's a suggested watering schedule depending on a plant's soil preference:
- Prefers dry soil - you need to wait for the soil to dry out completely before watering them again. These types of plants will probably need just once or twice a month watering.
- Prefers moist soil - water them more regularly
A light misting once or twice a day is usually beneficial for plants that prefer humid environments. Keep in mind that you have to be able to tweak and be flexible in your watering habit as you get to know your plants.
How do I water my plants?
Option 1: Pour water directly onto the soil
Pour the water in slowly so that it can seep through the soil. Allow the soil to slightly dry between waterings. Make sure to empty any excess water sitting in the saucer/outer pot after half an hour, you don't want them sitting in wet, soggy soil (unless you want to see root rot).
Option 2: Put the whole pot in a bucket of water, allowing it to soak up from the bottom
This technique is a great way to ensure the soil is fully watered. But every so often it's important to water from above to flush out any waterborne salts, which will build up over time.
Happy planting! 💦🌱
This post may contain affiliate links. At Alfie & Gem, we’re here to help you make your house a home - whether it's finding decor choices for your space or care tips for your plants. All of our picks are independently selected and curated by our team. If you buy something we link to on our site, your cost for the products will be no higher but we may receive a small commission. Thank you - we're honored to be part of your home decorating and plant growing journey!