Watering Houseplants: When and How to Properly Water Your Plants

Watering houseplants correctly is vital for your plants to survive. Some plants like to be kept in moist soil at all times, and others prefer to have their soil dry out slightly between waterings (top 2 inches of soil).

Season, Temperature and Pot Matters

Plants need more watering during the growing season when they are forming flower buds and new growth.  Plants in sunny or bright light use more water than the ones in low-light areas.

Frequent houseplant watering is needed for plants in clay and unglazed ceramic pots because these pots absorb and evaporate the moisture quicker from the sides.  Plastic and nonporous pots dry out slowly and retains moisture longer.

The size of the plant pot is also a factor because a large plant in a small pot needs more water often.

Heat Source Affect Plants Need for Water

Plants need less water when they are dormant; however, variables affect indoor houseplants need for water. Watering is required more frequently during winter months when the house is hot and dry from forced air heat.   Plants lose moisture through the pores in their leaves and stems--especially those with large or very thin leaves.

Be sure to check every few days to see how the plant uses water.

Cacti which come from the desert is an exception because they are well adapted to dry conditions. Succulents can also go a long period without water.

Guidelines for Watering Houseplants:

Watering Plants

1. The ideal time to water is in the morning. 

2. Use a  long spouted watering can for reaching deep into the center of the pot.

3. Test the soil by using a moisture meter or by pushing your finger into the top half-inch of the soil. If it's dry, water slowly until the surface of the potting mixture is covered with water; let it soak in and drain into the saucer, then empty the excess water.

4. Always use water at room temperature. Cold water will shock the plant roots and stunt the growth if watered repeatedly this way.

5. Do not use water that is treated with water softeners because it contains lots of salt. Your plants will grow slowly and may die from sodium poisoning.

6. Do not water your indoor plants with water straight from the tap because it has chlorine in it. Collect water in a container and leave open for 24 hours to let the chlorine diffuse into the air. This is necessary to prevent spots on the foliage.

7.  If you have to be away from you indoor gardening, there are many other watering remedies for vacations and extended absences from your indoor gardening.

Watering houseplants with tap water can also be harmful because of fluoridation. Dracaenas, yuccas, and some palms are among those that are fluoride sensitive. Rainwater, melted snow, or distilled water is better for your plants. Water barrels can be used to collect rain and melted snow.

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