Improper Watering Can Kill Houseplants
Water is the key to life but neither too little nor too much are good for houseplants. Too little, and the plant fails to grow and is susceptible to stress issues. Too much and the plant will literally drown and rot. Watering, or more accurately, incorrect watering, is the number on cause of houseplant death.
It is important to note that in their native environment, houseplants grow outside in the conditions they need. Brought indoors, it is our responsibility to care for them in the manner they require. Understanding the needs of the particular type of plant you own is an important first step to providing them with the correct amount of water.
Factors That Can Affect How Much Water Is Necessary
It is not only the variety of houseplant that impacts how much water is required, there are many conditions that can also play a factor.
- Potting Soil – how much moisture it can retain and/or how fast it dries out.
- Temperature – hotter spaces cause soil to dry out faster.
- Light Exposure – sunny locations tend to cause more evaporation and transpiration.
- Planter Material – terra cotta tends to breath whereas plastic and porcelain does not.
- Humidity – the drier the air the fast a plant can dry out.
- Hanging Containers – tend to dry out fast than stationary.
Even the time of year can alter how much water is needed by a plant. In cooler seasons, plants tend to be more dormant and do not require as much water. In warmer seasons, plants are actively growing and require more.
How To Know When To Water Houseplants
For most plants, water when the soil is dry (duh, right?). The thing is, we are not just interest in knowing if the surface soil is dry, we need to know if the soil closer to the root system is dry. The easiest way to find this out is to gently stick a finger an inch into the soil to determine if it is dry. If it is, it is time to water.
How To Water A Houseplant
It is a common misconception that watering the foliage of a plant is beneficial. It is not. In fact, it can be harmful. This is because when leaves stay water for a long period of time, they tend to become infected by harmful diseases and fungi.
The soil media is the target of watering. Use a long-spouted watering can to direct water directly to the soil media. Continue adding water until it comes out the bottom of the pot into the tray beneath. It is also possible to water a houseplant from the bottom. Simply pour water into the tray and allow the soil media to soak it up. It may be necessary to fill the tray a few times to get enough water to wet the soil near the top of the pot. Be sure to dump out any water that remains in the tray.
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