Understanding watering requirements is a critical part of caring for your indoor house plants. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing can have negative results, and this is very true when it comes to watering your greenery. Most ‘plant parents’ make the mistake of overwatering their indoor plants.
The ideal growing environment looks different for each plant species, so there is not a one-size-fits-all prescription for general house plant care. Even plant owners with a green thumb can find it difficult to know the frequency and volume of water their plants need. Thankfully, you can improve and maintain the health of your house plants with a few easy-to-follow watering tips.
Why Do Plants Need Water?
Water is essential for supporting all life on planet Earth, and plants are no exception. Knowing why plants need water will help you understand how and when to water your indoor foliage. Plants are made up of about 80% to 95% water, so hydration is critical for each plant’s ability to perform photosynthesis and transport nutrients from the soil to the plant stems.
Transpiration is the process that moves water from the soil into the roots and through the plant. This process is vital for a plant’s growth and continued health. Photosynthesis converts sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water into energy, and oxygen is released in the process. Humans need oxygen to breathe, so it is very important plants receive the correct amount of hydration to stay healthy and sustain life.
Watering House Plants 101
Most house plants need to be watered every one to three weeks. Exact watering requirements are based on each plant’s species, size, and pot. Time of year, humidity, sunlight exposure, and growth rate are other factors that contribute to a plant’s need for water. Because of these variables, it is important to monitor your house plants and water them on an as-needed basis instead of a routine watering schedule. If you water on a schedule, you run the risk of actually overwatering your house plants.
There are a few factors can help you determine when it is time to water your indoor house plants:
Plant Type: some plants thrive in wet environments while others do well in arid climates. Certain plant species, like succulents, can go an extended period of time without watering while others, like ferns, flourish in consistently moist environments. Knowing which environment yields the best growing conditions for your house plants will make it easier to determine when it is time to water them.
Soil Conditions: using your index finger, feel the potting mix around the plant. This exercise tells you if the first few inches of soil are damp. The amount of dry soil in the pot is typically the best indicator of when it is time to water your house plants.
Moisture Meter: it can be a tricky task to care for fickle house plants, but a moisture meter can tell you the precise time to hydrate yours. These meters are affordable and very reliable, so they are a great option to help you care for plants with moisture levels that are difficult to gauge from traditional tactics.
- Watch Out for Wilting: Drooping leaves could indicate that your house plant is dehydrated. Certain plant diseases or overwatering can also cause leaves to wilt, so it is important to check the dampness of the soil before reaching for the watering can.
Best Time to Water Plants
Knowing when to water each of your house plants will ensure each one thrives in your home. There are so many wonderful plant species on the market, and whether you have a single potted plant on your kitchen table or home filled with lush greenery, it is important to know when and how to water each indoor plant.
Overwatering your house plants prevents oxygen from getting to the roots, which causes what’s known as “root rot,” while under watering your house plants can lead them to be dry and wilted. You will want to avoid both of these scenarios.
Here is a watering guide for some of the most common types of indoor house plants:
Succulents: When it comes to these lovely house plants, you must let the soil dry out completely before adding more water to the pot. As a general rule of thumb, succulents need to be watered every two to three weeks (and at certain times of year, they can go longer between watering sessions).
Dragon Tree: The Dragon Tree is a truly unique option. You can keep this plant’s leaves healthy by letting the topsoil dry out between watering sessions. Exact watering requirements will vary, but this plant typically needs water only once a week.
Peace Lily: Allow soil to mostly dry out before watering this plant. If the soil is completely dried out, Peace Lilies will wilt, so make sure you check soil dampness and water before it feels completely dry. While exact needs will vary, Peace Lilies usually need to be watered once a week.
Indoor Boston Fern: Native to tropical climates, the Boston Fern loves water. Do not let the soil become dry before giving this fern some much-needed hydration. It is typically best to water the Boston Fern when the soil becomes damp.
Orchids: Be careful not to overwater your orchids. If potting soil feels dry, that means it is definitely time to give this beautiful flowering plant some water. Different types of orchids have unique watering requirements. Drought-tolerant types, like cattleyas, oncidiums, and dendrobiums can go about one week between watering sessions. Phalaenopsis orchids usually need a refill after four or five days.
Rubber Plants: Allow the top of the soil to dry out completely before adding more water to the rubber plant’s pot.
ZZ Plants: The resilient ZZ plant needs water every two to three weeks. This plant will need to up its water intake if it is exposed to direct sunlight, and decrease its water volume in low light settings. Be sure to let the soil dry out between watering sessions.
Chinese Evergreen: The perfect addition to any tabletop, this potted plant typically needs water every seven to 10 days in the summer or every two weeks in the winter. Chinese evergreens thrive with slightly moist soil (but wait for the top two inches to dry before reaching for the watering can).
Elephant Ear: This tropical plant likes consistent moisture. Plan on checking soil moisture levels every week to toe the line and keep this plant well hydrated but not soggy.
- Snake Plant: Snake plants prefer moderate humidity. Soggy soil will cause the Sansevieria trifasciata to experience aforementioned root rot. Do not overwater your snake plant. Let the soil mostly dry out before replenishing this plant’s water stores.
How to Water House Plants
Different plants have different water intake needs, but there are standard ways to correctly water your indoor house plants for maximum benefit. Use a watering canister to slowly add small increments of water to the potting soil at the base of the plant. Spread the water evenly over the soil surface (do not just water in one place). Water according to how the plant’s soil feels, not according to a fixed schedule or what you think is an appropriate amount of time.
Bottom watering is another method you can use to keep your plants healthy and hydrated. If you want to try this low-maintenance alternative, fill your sink or a basin with a couple inches of water. If you have your plant in a decorative planter, remove this and allow the plant to sit in the water basin for five to 10 minutes. Larger plants may take more time to adequately absorb the right amount of water. Once the topsoil feels damp, remove the plant from the water and place it in the original planter.
Do’s and Don’ts of Watering House Plants
There are some common misconceptions about house plant care that can seriously derail the health of your greenery. Avoid the pitfalls of overwatering your house plants with these tips to keep your plants healthy and thriving.
- Don’t stick to a standard watering schedule for all of your house plants and run the risk of overwatering.
- Do know each house plant’s unique watering requirements and check soil dryness to determine which plants need watering.
- Don’t assume all plants have the same basic care requirements.
- Do research your plant types or review the care instructions that came with your plant order so you know exactly when it is time to water.
- Don’t overload leaves by spraying moisture on them. Indoor house plants do not have the same ventilation as their outdoor counterparts. Spraying water on the leaves could lead to a moisture buildup that causes bacteria or fungal infections.
- Do place water near the plant’s base and spread evenly around the topsoil.
- Don’t add ice cubes to the plant’s pot. Long-term exposure to cold temperatures can put unnecessary stress on your plant.
- Do know the ideal temperature, humidity, and water requirements for your plant to flourish.
- Don’t water fragile house plants with tap water.
- Do use distilled water or rainwater for house plants that may not tolerate hard water sources well.
- Don’t stick to the same house plant care routine throughout the year.
- Do take into consideration that plants grow slower in the fall and winter. Because plants do not have the same sun and heat exposure in the colder months that they do in spring and summer, your plants will likely not need the same water intake during this colder time of year.
- Don’t put your plants in planters that are too small or too large for their size.
- Do choose an appropriate pot size for your plants so the soil can efficiently soak up water and remove excess moisture.
How Long Can House Plants Go Without Water?
House plants are more resilient that you may realize. Most indoor plants can last two to three weeks without water (although weather and plant type will determine the specific needs of your plants). While you do not want to regularly deprive your plants of the water they need, if you have an upcoming trip, your house plants should be fine for this period of time. Self-watering pots, watering gloves, and watering spikes may offer short-term solutions to your watering woes.
Essential Care Tips
If you do not have the gift of a green thumb, there’s no need to worry. Even seasoned plant parents make the mistake of overwatering their house plants. With a bit of attention to detail and proper care, your plants can bounce back and flourish in no time. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to indoor plant care. Each house plant has its own specific care requirements. Water your plants based on the feel of the soil, not a fixed schedule. The frequency on which each plant needs water will be determined by plant and pot size, time of year, humidity, and potting mix material.
Plant parenting does not have to be a difficult process, and Plantquility is committed to making it easy to care for your house plants. Every time you order one of our high-quality indoor plants, you will receive detailed care instructions to support you and ensure your plant can live a healthy life in its new home.
Don’t let common plant care mistakes keep you from enjoying the full benefits of your beautiful indoor house plants. With a few easy-to-follow tips, you can experience the beauty and tranquility of your indoor house plants for many seasons to come through Plantquility.