How Often Should I Water And Care For My Plants

Jan 8, 2015 |

To bring in the feeling of the outdoors, many people love having potted plants in their home and offices. Different plants require varying amounts of water for them to thrive well. Therefore, it is important to understand when your plants need to be watered and how much water they require. If you fail to provide indoor plants with the appropriate amount of water and at the required intervals, they will weather and dry up. Again, you should also realize that too much water is equally harmful to plants. Water in plant is very essential; it offers the medium for transport of nutrients from the soil to the plant. Excess water in the soil forces oxygen out of the soil hence interfering with respiration in the roots of the plant.

Generally, there is no rule on how often a plant should be watered. Some plants do well in swampy conditions while others, especially the succulent family, do well when allowed to remain dry for a while before watering. The type of pot used for the plant and the type of soil are some of the factors that affect the moisture retaining capability of the container.

Evaluating soil moisture content

While growing plants in the house, you should understand the conditions required for them to thrive. Generally, indoor plants can do well in almost any container. However, some types of containers are better suited for this purpose than others. For instance, clay pots will tend to draw moisture from the soil because they are porous. This can lead to dehydration of the plant. On the other hand, plastic, glass, metallic and enameled containers preserve soil moisture for some time. Therefore, when using such containers for growing indoor plants, you need to be very careful not to overwater the plants.

You should also ensure that the container either has drainage holes at the bottom or has a drainage layer of stones. This will allow the excess water to collect below the root zone and be re absorbed into the soil later. Plants in close containers should not be watered frequently. If you used peat-based potting mixes when planting the plant, you must never let it dry completely. Once peat is dry, it is very difficult to re-hydrate. However, peat is well renowned for its moisture retention capabilities. Having an idea of the moisture retaining capabilities of the soil will help you decide on when appropriate to water your plants.

Signs of overwatering and dehydration

Some of the symptoms of dehydration in plants are leaf and stem wilt. In other cases, when the soil is dehydrated, it tends to pull away from the walls of the container. You must always prevent your plants from getting dehydrated. Dehydration causes stress in plants and thus should be avoided. The following are some of the most common dehydration signs in plants:

  • Leaves turn translucent
  • Slow leaf growth
  • Flowers and leaves dropping prematurely
  • Curling and yellowing of the lower leaves
  • Edges of the leaves drying and turning brown

Again, watering plants regularly can lead to water logging in the long run. This drives away soil air hence ‘suffocating’ the roots. This water logged condition also promotes the growth of bacteria and fungi in the soil. These then attack the roots leading to root rot. While this is true for some plants, other plants, especially the tropical plants, thrive well in water logged conditions. The following are the warning signs that the soil is overwatered:

  • Young and old leaves falling at the same time
  • Standing water visible on the container underline
  • Root rot, indicated by a brown and odorous roots at the bottom of the container
  • Flowers becoming moldy
  • Leaves stop growing and develop soft rotten brown patches

When does a plant need ample watering

Plants should only be watered when they need to water. So then, how do you know when a plant needs watering? Plants need ample watering when:

  • They are actively growing
  • They are in a warm room that has direct sunlight
  • Leaves are thin and start browning at the tips
  • They have large leaves
  • The root mass has filled the pot
  • They have been propagated recently
  • They are growing on clay soil
  • Their natural habitat is a marshy area or a bog

When to water indoor plants sparingly

Basically, succulent plants as well as plants that have leathery leaves that do not transpire heavily can be affected by overwatering. Such plants should be watered sparingly. In addition to these, root tubers and plants with thick fleshy roots should also be watered sparingly. Such plants should plant in a pot that drains the excess water readily. Additionally, while watering such plants, the water provided should be just enough to moisten the soil mixture thoroughly. It is also advisable to water such plants in stages at the time, providing them with little water at intervals. While watering, the water should not appear at the drainage holes at the bottom. The following are some of the conditions that dictate when to water indoor plants sparingly:

When the plant is resting after fruiting or flowering

  • The plant is growing in a cool room
  • After re-potting the plant
  • The plant is grown in a metallic, plastic or glazed ceramic container
  • When the environment of the plant is humid
  • When the soil mixture on which the plant is growing has good water retaining capabilities
  • If the plant has fleshy roots and water storing structures or succulent leaves

How often should I water and care for my plants

Before deciding on how often to water a plant, you must carefully consider the above aspects. It is very difficult to come up with a definite frequency of watering plants. This is mainly because of the above named factors. When watering your indoor plants, it is advisable to ensure that the water temperature is between 62 and 72 degrees F. depending on the type of the plant and the soil medium it is growing on, you must avoid overwatering and dehydration as both are very damaging to plants.

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