Monday, November 3, 2014

Watering Houseplants

How often should I water my houseplants?
  • Although is may seem the easiest method, do not water plants by the calendar. Using this method would assume that in regards to environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, wind etc.), each day of the year will be the same.
  • Water by inspection of the soil or potting mix. If it is wet, wringing wet, don’t water; if it’s dry, water. If the soil is moist, but not soaked, wait a few days and check again. If you actually observe the plant wilting, you should have watered yesterday. When assessing the soil, do not examine the surface, which usually dries out rather quickly. To truly evaluate the condition of the soil, place your finger about a third of the way down the pot or take a mini trowel and pull up some dirt. In reality, you may end up watering somewhat by the calendar, but at least you will have arrived at it through observation and inspection. 
  • The lifting method also works well. If the pot isn’t too big, simply lift the pot off the ground, if it’s heavy, it’s got plenty of water. In comparison, if it’s relatively light, it’s time to water. Putting these methods together, you’ll soon get the hang of it.

A major problem lies in the fact that wilting and lack luster growth can be symptoms of both under watering and over-watering. In the case of over-watering, the roots will begin to rot, with or without the help of soil pathogenic fungi. Once some of the roots are gone, the plant will not be able to pick up enough water, especially on hot days, and the leaves wilt.

It is important to note that under watering a plant will lead to lackluster growth and low fruit production (for fruit producing plants), but over-watering can easily lead to the death of the plant.

As you can see knowing when to water will take some trial and error. It is important to use a well-drained potting mix and never leave water standing in the tray. Plants that have been in the pot a long time may have become pot bound, meaning that most of the space in the pot is occupied by roots rather than soil. If this is the case, you will find that these plants need very frequent watering because there is simply no soil to help hold the water.