Water is a natural element in the care of houseplants and the tips below give some simple pointers that will help your plants excel. Humidity is water in the surrounding air and can help many houseplants. I stand most of my plants on moisture retaining clay granules of Hortag.
Tips for Watering Houseplants
- Modern composts tend to dry out, shrink and become light weight when they dry out. Top watering will not always soak down and wet this compost. Best tip is to immerse the whole pot in water until it is level with the top of the pot and leave it until the compost looks wet on the top. Water will be drawn up from the bottom soaking all the compost. In extreme circumstances repot with fresh damp compost.
- Your finger pushed in the compost can tell you if the pot needs watering. If your finger remains dry give the pot some water.
- Do not have a fixed schedule for watering. Each plant has different needs and each pot and compost may vary. Treat each plant on it’s merits.
- Heavy and excessive watering can waterlog the soil. More plants are killed this way than from thirst. Excessively heavy pots with water always dripping out of the drainage hole is a sign of waterlogging. Knock the plant out, clear off the waterlogged compost, trim off any dead or rotting roots and repot in fresh compost.
Leaving a plant out of the pot to drain a wet root ball may work if the waterlogging is recent and the compost has good drainage.
Problems Watering Houseplants
- Plants that are wilting may be short of water but plants can also wilt when they are over watered.
- Some house plants need special watering treatment. see below
- Frequent but light watering can wet the top of the compost but never reach down to where the roots need the moisture.
- Watering at the wrong time can cause problems. Many house plants need less water when not in active growth eg during winter.
- Beware drying conditions caused by central heating, porous pots or direct sunshine.
Special Houseplants Watering Tips
- Vase plants like Bromiliads need water in the central core of leaves. Use rainwater if possible and clean out the water 3-4 times a year and restart with fresh
- Cacti and succulents need to alternate from moist to dry during spring and summer but can be left short of water in winter
- Azaleas do not mind having the pot standing in a saucer of water. Their compost is usually free draining and Azaleas need regular watering
- Saintpaulias (African Violets) need watering from the bottom of the pot to protect the fleshy leaves from rotting. This also works on Gloxinias, Chirita, Acorus and Cyclamen
“CACTUS by lcrf CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Brilliant Bromiliad by kretyen CC BY 2.0
African Violet by dog.happy.art, CC BY-NC 2.0