How to Properly Water Indoor Plants

It is important to water plants correctly. Incorrect watering leads to a poor root system, and this weakens a plant. Inconsistent watering can cause leaf wilt, leaf loss, soggy tissue and corky scabs on the underside of leaves. Weakened plants are also more susceptible to fungal (disease) invasion.

There are three factors to consider in deciding how to water a plant. They are the plant, the environment, the soil.

First, let’s consider the plant. Plants that are blooming and plants with much foliage need more water than those that are not blooming or those with little foliage. Also plants from dry regions such as cacti and many succulents, require less water, as do plants with brittle succulent stems such as peperomia, pilea and begonia. Tropical and moist woodland plants, such as ferns, philodendron, ficus and piggy-back plant, need more water.

Second, consider the environment. When temperatures are high in spring and summer, plants need more water. Because water evaporates through unglazed clay pots, plants living in those types of pots will require more water than plants living in plastic pots.

Third, the soil affects watering. A good soil should be half soil particles and half filled with air and water. A heavy soil retains water. A sandy soil quickly loses water.

Some plants show characteristic symptoms when they need water. Succulents often look shriveled. Coleus and impatiens wilt. The soil shows when it is dry also. It has a lighter color and shrinks away from the pot. If you stick your finger about one inch into the soil and no particles stick, the soil is dry.

Watering tips:

  • When you do water, water thoroughly so ALL the soil is wet.
  • Use room-temperature water to avoid shocking the roots. Do not use water that has been softened with salt.
  • Water terrariums with a mister to prevent erosion. It is recommended to use distilled water for terrariums.
  • Water hanging baskets over the sink to avoid a mess.

If you overwater a plant, remove damaged foliage to prevent disease. Air out the soil by cultivating the surface.

Remember: correct watering depends on a combination of factors — the plant, the environment, and the soil.