While growing indoor plants, it is essential to understand the proper watering techniques. Water is an essential factor responsible for healthy growth in all plants. If watering is not done well, it will affect the overall health of the plant. Your plant might even end up dying.
A common question that everyone has in their mind is how much water do indoor plants need? and How often should you water indoor plants? So, in this article, we will go through everything you need to know about watering your indoor plants.
Most indoor plants need to be watered once in 7-21 days. The frequency of watering will depend upon the type of the plant, the size of the plant, pot size, soil type, and temperature around it. For the best results, check the soil every week and water the plant only when the soil feels dry.
But the water requirement may vary during the summers and winters. During summer, you might have to water more often.
But in winter, they will not need much water since they go dormant during this season. Some will even stay healthy without water for a month in winter.
Two common problems of watering are overwatering and under-watering.
Watering more often causes overwatering, whereas watering with long breaks can cause under-watering. So, it is crucial to understand how often you should water houseplants to avoid these problems.
If you are confused about providing your indoor plants with the right amount and water quality, keep reading this article till the end. We will also cover information about the water needs of some houseplants.
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How often should you water indoor plants?
Many aspects need to be remembered while growing plants, be it indoors or outdoors. However, watering indoor plants can be trickier than outdoors.
When you water your plant, and it immediately drains the water from the bottom of the pot, it does not get proper water. The soil needs to absorb the water so that the roots can send this water to all parts of the plant.
Various factors have a significant impact on watering. A big plant needs more water than a small plant. The plant that remains under direct sunlight needs more watering than the one dwelling under indirect sunlight or low light.
During summer, the plant needs more watering than in winters. The best answer to this question is infrequent deep watering. Generally, houseplants do not need much water. Water your plant once a week every well, profoundly and equally, from all sides.
The plant will remain moist and work very well for the rest of the days without water. The quantity of water should be about ¼ to 1/3 of the volume of the pot.
However, in some situations, the watering frequency will differ.
Factors determining the correct watering
A lot of factors play important roles when it comes to watering. Let us discuss in short what they are and how they are related to watering.
If the plant is placed in front of a window receiving direct sunlight, the soil will quickly dry. This happens especially when you are placing your plant near a south or west-facing window. In such cases, your plant will need frequent watering.
It is better to place your plant near the north or east-facing window. It provides bright but indirect sunlight. Your houseplant might not need too much water if placed in that direction.
But the plants that can survive low lights and are kept under low lights will not need frequent watering.
Type of soil
Some soil drains water very fast, while some soil drains water very slowly. Generally, the ideal potting soil for indoor plants should drain water fast. It should retain enough moisture as well. This helps in avoiding a waterlogged medium for the plants.
If the soil has more clay, it will not require frequent watering. Clay holds water for a long time and drains very slowly.
In contrast, if your soil has sand content, it will need frequent watering. Sand drains water very fast and leaves the soil dry in no time.
However, adding compost to the potting mix will solve both the issues and improve the drainage system.
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In high temperatures, indoor plants will need water more often. The high temperature raises the evaporation rate and metabolic rate of the plants. Due to this, the plants and the soil dry out very fast.
The temperature may vary for your houseplants, depending on the room. If your plant is placed in front of a large window that gets a lot of sunlight, it will need frequent watering due to high temperatures.
Inside our homes, the humidity is relatively low than outside. It affects the evaporation and transpiration rate in the plant. Most houseplants are tropical plants and need high humidity to survive. Due to this, your indoor plants will need frequent watering for proper humidity.
Humidity is low during the winters. But the houseplants don’t need much water during the winters. So before you decide anything, check the moisture level of the soil.
You can go for regular misting to maintain the humidity. You can also use other methods like installing humidifiers, using pebble trays, or using terrarium jars. These will help in maintaining an ideal humidity without affecting the water requirements.
Air circulation increases the evaporation rate for the houseplants. Due to this, the plants need more water to remain hydrated.
Poor air circulation will bring many problems, and the chances of the plants being overwatered will increase as the soil will take a long time to get dry.
Big-sized plants need more water than smaller ones. Big plants consume more water for more respiration.
Sometimes, water requirement also depends on the type of plant. Some plants enjoy moist conditions, whereas some like dry or wet conditions. So, watering depends upon which type of houseplant you are growing.
It is best to research the water requirements of the particular plant you are growing to avoid making mistakes.
Type of pot
Some pots can absorb water more often. If your plant is kept in such pots, you will have to water the plant frequently. Terracotta pots are ideal for indoor plants as they are porous and allow the roots to breathe.
You can use plastic pots, but these will require less water. There are also pots called self-watering pots. There’s nothing to worry about watering while using such a pot.
Whatever pot you use, make sure that all have suitable drainage holes to let the excess water out and prevent losing adequate moisture. Try choosing the ideal type of pot depending on the type of plant you are growing.
Size of pot
Do not use pot bigger than the size of the plant. If you are using a big pot, the water will take time to dry out. Moreover, the plant might experience overwatering, root rot and become vulnerable to pests and diseases due to prolonged wet conditions.
Choose the pot size according to the plant size. For example, if your plant is growing in a four-inch pot and it is time to repot, do not make a drastic jump in pot size. Choose a six-inch pot while repotting.
How often should you water your indoor plant during the summer?
Houseplants do not need too much water. However, there are some exceptions. During the summers, the heat of the sun is intense, and the temperature is high.
On the other hand, while growing indoors, the humidity decreases. Summers and springs are the time when most houseplants are in their growing season.
Due to these reasons, the watering frequency increases during the summer season. The indoor plants need consistent and thorough watering. To follow the correct watering schedule, you can keep a calendar. Mark the dates in them and stay on track.
Keep a check on the soil’s moisture level. Poke your finger into the soil. If the top half of the soil feels dry, your plant will need water. While watering, use a watering can with a spout so that moisture can directly touch the soil.
Some plants will show signs whenever they need water. They will wilt or droop down. Also, check out for dry soil, as it can also be a sign of overwatering.
Water them once a week. Check the soil constantly. If the week is not over yet but eh soil dried up, you can water the plant.
How often should you water the indoor plants during the winter?
Indoor plants need less water during the winter months. Sometimes, we think that due to dry weather, watering frequently is required during winters. However, that is not true.
Most houseplants reduce their rate of growth during winters. They start entering their dormant period. This is the reason they do not need much water.
However, the water requirement will vary from plant to plant. Succulents will not need water at all during winter. Due to dry weather, the topsoil will dry up. You might mistake this as their need for watering.
Before watering, think twice. Check the moisture level of the soil by poking your finger inside t. If one inch of the soil feels dry, only then water the plant.
How to water the indoor plants?
Watering should not be done randomly. Before watering, you need to understand the different ways of watering. This will help you to know which will give your plants more benefits.
The best way to water the houseplants is from the bottom. Watering from the top should be avoided because the leaves might get damp. This situation will be vulnerable to pests and diseases.
Below, I have listed some beneficial ways of watering:
- Using a saucer: Keep a saucer beneath the pot. Fill it with water whenever you want to water your plant. Allow it to soak for some hours. After that, dispose of the water from the saucer and allow the leftover water to drip out. This method will also help to maintain humidity.
- Soaking the plants: Soak your plants in a tray or container. Fill the container with some freshwater. Now place your potted plant into that container. Make sure that the leaves remain untouched by the water. Keep it for some minutes to let the plant absorb the water. After that, you can take the plant out. Allow it to drain the excess water from the drainage holes.
- Self-watering pots: These are the best. They will save your time and effort behind all watering hassles. You will get time only to refill the reservoir before it turns out empty. The pot will do the rest of the work. Generally, you will have to refill it once a month. Sometimes, it may vary.
Not all water types are suitable for houseplants.
The foremost thing is you should always use room temperature or tepid water. Too hot or too cold water will give your plant a shock. You can fill the watering can beforehand. As time goes by, the water will go warm.
Most plants are sensitive to hard minerals like chlorine and fluorine, and most tap water contains these minerals, which can harm the plant. They will also accumulate salts. Altogether, they cause brown leaves.
The ideal water is rainwater or distilled water. They are free from all types of minerals. You can collect rainwater and store them for future use.
In case you want to use tap water only, filter it. If there is no way for filtering, you must allow it to sit overnight. By this time, the minerals will get evaporated into the air. Once this happens, the water will become harmless and ready to use for the plants.
What happens when you overwater your houseplants?
Overwatering is a common problem in most houseplants. It happens when you continuously water your plant without checking the moisture level.
Another reason is poor drainage. The roots get suffocated due to too much water and start rotting. This is called root rot.
Some symptoms of overwatering are:
- Brown tips and edges in leaves.
- Yellow leaves.
- Leaves feel soft and limp
- Stunted growth
- Growing mold
- When root rot worsens, the soil releases a foul smell
How to fix overwatering?
- Stop watering for some days.
- Keep checking the soil’s moisture content by poking your finger into the soil and feeling the moisture.
- Lift the pot and weigh it. If the pot feels heavy, you don’t have to water.
- Get rid of the affected leaves to avoid any spread of pests and diseases.
- In case of root rot, repot the plant. Get rid of the affected leaves and roots. The damaged roots will look dark brown and feel mushy. Use a new pot and new soil while repotting.
- While making the soil mix, make sure that it is good in water drainage and moisture retention.
- Add compost to your potting soil to improve aeration and drainage.
- Make sure that the pot size is not bigger than the plant size.
What happens when you underwater your plant?
Though underwatering affects less than overwatering, you should still not underwater your plants. Or else you have to put extra effort behind your plant.
Underwatering occurs when you keep your plants dry for a long time. However, some houseplants can grow well with less water.
The plants constantly receiving sunlight and staying in a warm room will dry up fast. So they will need more water. Another reason is the soil. If the soil is draining water quickly, it remains dry for a long time without our knowledge.
The symptoms of underwatering are:
- Yellow leaves
- Brown tips and edges
- Wilted leaves
- Dry and crispy leaves
- Slow growth
How to fix underwatering?
- Start watering your plant immediately.
- Follow the soaking method to water. Make sure the pot has drainage holes.
- Avoid using sandy soil.
- Add compost to improve the soil structure.
- Keep checking the moisture level.
- Water the plant as soon as you find the initial signs of underwatering.
- Rootbound plants are sometimes more susceptible to under-watering. In such situations, your plants will need repotting.
- Remove the dried and dead leaves from the plant.
- Water the plant very well from all sides once a week. They won’t need water for the other days in a week. But if your plant receives too much sun, you might have to water twice a week.
- Follow a proper schedule based on your plant type. Mark the calendar to remember the watering dates.
Some plants and their watering routine
Succulents: They have multiple species. They are outstanding in moisture retention. Before watering, allow them to dry out completely, especially cacti. Water them every 10 to 15 days.
Peace Lilies, too, will need to dry their soil very well before the next watering. These plants show signs of wilting whenever they need water. You must water them before they start wilting. Water them every 5 to 10 days.
Phalaenopsis Orchids will need watering when the soil dries, and the roots become silvery white. When they become dehydrated, leaves will wrinkle and droop. You can water them every 5 to 10 days.
Rubber Plants will need water when one inch of the topsoil dries up. Water once a week during the growing seasons. During the winter, you can water them every 10 to 15 days.
Nerve plants need to remain moist constantly. You can water their topsoil once every day. But do not overwater as they are vulnerable to root rot. Just try to keep them moist, not wet.
Kentia palm will tolerate drought moderately. Allow the soil to dry out. Water only if the top 3 inches of the soil feel dry.
The wandering Jew plant needs to be watered when half part of the topsoil dries out. Do not overwater them as they are susceptible to root rot.
Prayer plants act a little fussy when it comes to watering. Their topsoil should constantly remain moist, slightly damp, but not too wet or soggy. Water them daily until it drains from the drainage holes.
Some plants that need watering every 5 to 10 days other than Peace Lily are Fiddle fig leaf, Peperomia, Spider plant, Calathea, Philodendrons, and Ficus.
Some plants that need watering every 10 to 15 days are the Snake plant and Aloe vera plant.
There are a lot of houseplants. It is not possible to predict the watering routine for all of them. If you are growing houseplants, not on this list, you can research to find their water requirements. You can also try to find the proper watering technique yourself, but that can be risky.
Is it wrong to water indoor plants at night?
It is recommended not to water during the nighttime because the plants won’t receive sunlight. Due to this, they will remain damp the whole night. Such conditions are ideal for pests and diseases. Therefore, you must avoid watering your indoor plants at night.
When is the right time to water the houseplants?
Morning is the best time to water the houseplants. Throughout the day, they will get ample light to dry out. If the leaves get wet, the bright light will help them dry out. Dry leaves mean that there are fewer chances of pest infestation and diseases in your plant. Water them early in the morning.
Can indoor plants stay dry for a long time?
Not all, but some houseplants can remain alive for a long time without water, like cacti. They can survive without water for one month or more. Still, they will remain healthy. You can use self-watering pots for your houseplants to keep up with their watering routine.
Sources: College of agricultural studies, University of Vermont, National science foundation.