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What Is The Best Time To Water Houseplants? (+9 Watering Mistakes)

Water is one of the most important requirements for your plants as they use it to make food and energy. However, when watering indoor plants, most are guilty of not knowing certain rules and correct ways of watering.

The best time to water houseplants is in the early morning. Since the sunlight is not too intense, the plants can absorb all the water they need, while the excess water evaporates during the rest of the day. However, checking the soil before watering the plant is crucial.

In this article, I will discuss the right time to water your plants, what kind of water you should be using, the correct way to water them, and the major mistakes we make while watering our plants. So, keep reading.

Schefflera water

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When is the right time to water indoor plants?

We want our plants to thrive in our homes, but lack of knowledge and experience sometimes becomes a barrier.

And watering our indoor plants is the part that we make mistakes most often.

In the plants’ natural habitat, they get water from nature.

Indoors, the watering is in our hands, and we often do not understand when is the best time to water our indoor plants.

The timing of watering is more important than we think.

We mistake not knowing when to water and doing it any time of the day, but the only time you should water is early morning.

Watering in the morning prepares the plants to get ready for the day.

The sun is not too intense, so the plant gets a lot of time to absorb and drink the water as much as required, and it evaporates slowly throughout the day.

How often should you water indoor plants?

Every plant has a different watering schedule depending on its need and demand.

However, for most indoor plants, you need to water them when you see the plant giving signs.

Check the soil for moisture, and water it thoroughly if you see it is dry.

Instead of following a general routine for all plants, check if there is a need for watering.

Sometimes a plant might need to get watered every day, and sometimes it can go without water for a week.

It depends on the environmental conditions and factors affecting the plant’s water needs.

If you are unsure, even after checking the soil, get a moisture meter to check the water content.

Is it okay to water indoor plants at night?

Many follow this routine of watering their plants at night, but sadly this is not right for your plants.

Watering indoor plants at night increases the chances of diseases and fungus attacks.

This happens because water does not evaporate at night, and the soil stays wet for very long.

Also, the splashing water on the leaves makes them wet and attracts pests and diseases.

Can I water houseplants in the afternoon?

Many of us also mistake watering our plants in the middle of the day because they look scorched in the burning sun.

But you should not be doing this.

Watering in the afternoon is not right when the sun is very hot.

When you water, it evaporates quickly, and sometimes the roots fail to absorb the water.

Also, when the water splashes on the leaves in the intense sun, it can quickly burn them because of the sudden shock leading to sunburn.

How much to water indoor plants?

Money tree (Pachira Aquatica) watering

It isn’t easy to predict how much water you should use on your indoor plants because each plant has different watering requirements.

Some very popular houseplants like philodendrons, Boston ferns, and Alocasia are natives of tropical regions in Asia, Africa, and South America.

Their requirements for water are high.

They like their soil to be moist and hydrated.

But on the contrary, plants like cacti and succulents grown in deserts and arid regions are built so that they do not require much water.

They do exceptionally well in dry sandy soil, whereas tropical plants need more water to grow and look good.

Along with their native regions, it is important to understand the environment’s role in determining their water needs.

In summer, when the sun is intense, most plants need much more water as they are active and grow rapidly.

In winter, when the light gets lesser, and temperatures get colder, most plants find the conditions unsuitable.

So the growth rate decreases and the need for water also reduces.

Also read: How Long Can House Plants Go Without Water?

Best water for your houseplants

This is one area even experienced plant owners go wrong.

Though tap water might not kill your plants, the harmful elements contained in them can lead to long-term buildup in your plants.

It is always recommended to use distilled water if it is possible.

However, rainwater is the best for your plants.

If you do not get them, you can fill up tap water and let it rest for a night. 

The minerals in them will fall at the bottom, and you can pour the water out.

Also important is the temperature of the water.

Do not ever water your indoor plants with water that is too hot or too cold for you.

If the water is of extreme temperature, let it sit at room temperature for some time until it reaches normal temperature.

What is the proper way to water indoor plants?

Watering Philodendron

Now there are several times we go wrong with the technique of watering.

Sometimes we drizzle some water on the soil surface daily and leave it that way.

This technique of shallow watering is harmful and not good for plants.

In this process, the roots fail to absorb the water, and in the long run, they start remaining dehydrated.

Always water thoroughly until it runs out of the drain hole, and let it dry before watering again.

In this process, the water reaches the roots, and the extra water escapes. 

Another more beneficial way of watering which requires a bit of work is the bottom watering method.

You fill up a large bucket with water and place your pot inside it.

After a few minutes, you will see that the soil starts absorbing the water.

This is the best method to water indoor plants as the roots get to absorb as much water as it needs without unnecessarily wetting the foliage. 

Also read: 8 Tips To Water Indoor Plants Without Making A Mess

Best time to water indoor plants in winter

Winter is undoubtedly the most difficult season for our green babies.

Most plants being warmth loving and from the warmer regions, detest the cold, gloomy season.

This difficulty results in many indoor plants going into dormancy during winters, and some, who stay active, reduce their growth.

It is a difficult time for them, and their energy also reduces due to low light intensity.

Watering becomes tricky, especially during this time.

So though the plants grow very slowly and stay alive, you cannot fully cut down on watering.

Otherwise, they will become dehydrated.

This can create further problems and make it even more difficult for them.

Let us discuss some tips for watering correctly in winter:

  • Reduce the frequency of watering in winter. Let the soil dry out in between watering.
  • Always water during the mid-morning in winter so that the plants can use the energy they get from water and sunlight to photosynthesize. Ensure the leaves do not get water because it will attract more pests. 
  • Do not water with hot or cold water. Use room temperature water only. 
  • Ensure the extra water is drained and no water accumulates in the cache.
  • Refrain from misting in winter as the wet leaves combined with the low sunlight can further attract fungus to the plants.
  • Use humidifiers to give indoor plants a boost of humidity.

Watering mistakes that we often make

Incorrect watering is one of the major causes that kill most indoor plants.

Plant owners often commit these mistakes and end up losing their plants. 

Let us discuss some of indoor plants’ most commonly made watering mistakes.

1. Overwatering 

Pothos plant watering

Overwatering is undoubtedly the biggest reason why indoor plants die.

Overwatering occurs when we water our plants more than it requires, and as a result, the plant is unable to use up the water, which keeps the soil soggy and the roots of the plants drowned.

The saturated roots cannot breathe as the oxygen supply cuts down in soggy soil, giving rise to the growth of pathogens and fungus.

These pathogens create rot in the roots, which, if not treated, can kill your indoor plants.

You must only water the indoor plants when their soil gets dry to the touch.

Some of the signs of overwatering are:

  • Yellow leaves
  • Mushy leaves and stem
  • Brown spots on leaves
  • A foul smell of the soil
  • Wet soil that refuses to dry
  • Falling leaves

So if your plant has been suffering from overwatering, you need to take immediate action.

Fixing an overwatered plant is not easy, and you need to put in some effort.

  • If the overwatering is early, cut down watering, shift your plant to more light, and get more air. This should help to evaporate all the excess water.
  • If the rot has reached an advanced level, you need to carefully pull out the plant from the pot and inspect its roots. Trim off the rotten parts and repot the plant in a fresh soil mix that is light and well-draining. 

2. Following the same routine for all the plants

Another common mistake beginners often make treating all the plants in the same way.

Each plant is different, and the watering requirement for each is different. 

So if you water all the plants in the same routine, that will create the problem of overwatering or underwatering.

For example, desert plants or plants native to drier regions like succulents need much less water, and watering them more frequently can end in killing them.

On the other hand, tropical plants like ferns, Alocasia, etc., love moisture and cannot thrive in dry conditions.

So you must learn the watering needs of your indoor plants and group them accordingly to prevent watering them wrongly.

3. Watering at the wrong time of the day

Watering a Monstera plant

This is a mistake that not just beginners but even experienced plant growers commit.

Watering at the wrong time of the day can lead to problems.

Watering during the afternoon when the sun is at its peak increases the evaporation process.

The plant gets to absorb lesser water in the roots as most of it is quickly absorbed.

Watering during the evening increases the chances of fungal or pest growth because the leaves tend o stay wet all night.

The ideal time to water is early morning as it helps the plant get through the day, and the roots absorb the required water.

4. Underwatering the plants

Like watering too much, watering too little is also dangerous for your plants.

Water, along with light, is the basic food that plants need to make food, so if they do not get enough water, then they start to show several signs like:

  • Wrinkled leaves
  • Wilting
  • Yellowing
  • Dry, cracked soil surface

Luckily unlike overwatering, watering is easier to treat. 

  • Water the plant heavily until it runs out of the drain hole.
  • You can fill a large bucket with water and dip the planter in it. Bottom watering is very effective in such scenarios, and the roots will absorb the water better through this process. 

5. Same watering routine in every season

Yet another mistake we often do is following the same watering routine all year round.

Summers and spring are the growing periods for most indoor plants, so their water requirement is much higher.

Plus, the stronger sun rays in these seasons dry up the soil faster and increase the evaporation and transpiration process; thus, the plants need more hydration.

In autumn and winter, most plants go into dormancy, or their growth rate decreases.

The lesser intensity of the sun reduces the evaporation and transpiration process, so the plant needs much less watering in such seasons. 

6. Using pots without drainage

Spider Plant overwatering

Nowadays, we get many fancy pots in the market for indoor plants with no drainage hole at the bottom.

In these pots, you will face problems of overwatering as the excess water will not be able to drain out.

There is a solution to this problem, though.

You can manually drill a hole at the bottom of the pot.

If drilling the pots sounds tricky, another solution is to use normal clay pots with holes to grow the plants and then put them inside the fancy planters.

So before watering, take them out, and then, once the excess water has drained out, put it back into the fancy planters again. 

7. Watering the wrong way

There is a right way to the water.

Though most of us follow the overhead wagering method because it is quicker, it is not the right way.

The water splashing on the leaves can lead to diseases and fungus.

The right way to water your indoor plants is by watering at the base of the plant or bottom watering.

This helps the roots to absorb the water sufficiently ad keeps them hydrated. 

8. Not emptying the cache tray

There is a cache or trays underneath the containers to collect the extra water, which many of us d not bother to empty.

The saucer keeps the floor underneath clean, but if the water accumulates in them, it will cause root rot in the plants. 

9. Using tap water

Using tap water is very harmful to indoor plants as they contain a lot of chlorine and minerals that are unsuitable for sensitive indoor plants.

They can lead to salt buildup and accumulation in the soil.

Rainwater is the best for your plants, and you can collect rainwater to water your plants later on. 

9. Material of the container

The frequency of watering also depends on the material of the pot.

If you grow your plants in non-porous pots like plastic and ceramic, you need to be careful with watering because the soil stays wet for a long time, and the chances of fungus growth are higher.

In porous terracotta pots, the soil stays light and airy, and it needs more frequent watering, so do not forget to check the moisture content of the soil.

Sources: National science foundation.

Recommended Garden Supplies

Are you looking for a readymade indoor plant soil mix that you can open and pour? Check out rePotme. They offer a wide range of readymade soil premixes for all your indoor plants.

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