Houseplant Watering

Houseplant Watering

Houseplant watering needs to be done properly to keep your houseplants healthy and beautiful. A few tips will take some of the mystery out of houseplant watering.

Houseplants need the proper amount of water to remain healthy. Over watering and under watering are the most common reasons indoor houseplants die. Both present with the same symtoms, the wilting of leaves, so how do we find out which has happened? The only way to tell is to check the soil.

Push your finger down into the soil 1 to 1 1/2 inches. If the soil is dry, the plant needs water. If we water the plant it will perk up unless it has been without water for too long.

If the soil is moist, then the problem is overwatering, and the wilted leaves are a sign of root rot – the moisture is there but the roots have lost their ability to absorb the water and send it up the plant to the leaves. This will require repotting the plant to change the soil and cutting away the affected roots. If the rot is too bad, this may not even save the houseplant.

Check the watering needs of your particular houseplant, different houseplants have different needs. Succulents need the soil to dry out between waterings, while other houseplants, like peace lilies, need to keep the soil moist but not wet.

Rain water or distilled water is better for watering houseplants. Many houseplants are sensitive to the chlorine and fluorine found in tap water. This sensitivity will appear as brown tips and edges on the leaves. Brown tips and edges can also be caused by low humidity.

Plants should be watered early in the day. In this way they will have the daylight hours, when they are actively growing to adjust to the shock of the new water added. When watering houseplants you should use room temperature water to lessen this shock to the plant.

The most common ways of watering houseplants are from above and from below.

From above we pour the water into the pot around the houseplant. It is best to pour enough water in to the pot so that some runs out of the bottom. This will ensure the plant gets a good watering. It will also help wash excess salts from fertilizer through the soil and out of the pot.

When watering houseplants from below, called sub irrigation, we place the houseplant, pot and all, in a container of water and let the plant draw the water up into the soil. This method works well for houseplants like african violets whose leaves will be damaged if water gets on to them.

When watering houseplants either way, never let the plants stand in water for more than 15 to 20 minutes. Allow the excess to drain away and pour it off.

Some houseplants can be effectively watered with self watering pots like the Self- Watering Cortina Planters icon available from Gardeners Supply.  Water is poured into a resovoir and the plant will wick it up into the soil. The resovoirs need to be checked and refilled when the water gets low.

These tips should give you more confidence when it comes to houseplant watering.