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Watering Your Houseplants — How To Do It The Right Way

Updated: Jan 14

Unfortunately, when it comes to watering houseplants most people aren’t taught the basics of watering or how to do it properly.

We believe learning how to water correctly starts with knowing why watering correctly is imperative.

It's all about the roots.

We tend to value plants for their top growth because that is the part we can see. However, lush leaves & beautiful flowers all come up through the roots!

As you can see, roots are essential & we have to keep them in tip top shape if we want our plant to stay healthy.

Watering incorrectly

will damage your plant's roots.

If you are familiar with plant care you've heard the words

"overwatering" & "proper drainage."

These words are closely associated with watering incorrectly.

To overwater means to water a plant too much.

Proper drainage involves the soil & the container. The best way to prevent overwatering is to ensure your soil does not hold moisture & drains properly. The container your plant is in should always have a drainage hole, whether it be in the actual pot or in the liner, to allow water to easily escape the container.

Overwatering & proper drainage are prevalent in descriptions because of how often these complications occur & how harsh their impact is on healthy plants.

... but HOW do they affect a plant?

Watering correctly is the easiest way to avoid these complications & ensure the roots stay healthy. After all, healthy roots means a healthy plant.

When determining how often to watering your plants you must ALWAYS treat every plant as an individual. Even plants of the same species can have different watering needs. Why?

How often a plant should be watered is

dependent on a ton of different variables

… the list goes on!

We will cover how each of these affect watering frequency, but first it's important to

understand how to read a plant & its soil.

The first step is to have a general understanding of your plant‘s water needs. Some plants need a drink every few days, while others only need some once a month.

[Check out our Water Spectrum Chart to see where your plant lands]

Now it’s time to check the soil.

Use your finger to test how dry the soil is.

Generally, water-loving plants need a drink if the surface of the soil is dry. For succulents, Sansevierias, & drier plants, you will have to poke your finger deeper into the soil. These type of plants need to be watered when 50% - 75% of the soil is dry from the top.

But my pot is too deep or my hands are too small?? You can use a wooden stick instead.

Find a slender stick, such as a chopstick, & dip it into the soil. Once you’ve removed the stick check to see if there is any dirt attached to it. If your stick is clean, the soil is dry & it is time to water. If soil is stuck to the stick, the soil is moist & you should wait to water.

Another way to check if the soil is still holding moisture is to

check the weight of the pot.

This method requires a little practice. To do this effectively you must be familiar with how much the pot weighs right after you water it. That way you will have a weight to compare it to once it has dried out.

At first, testing the soil with your finger is the best way to determine how moist it is. Eventually you may get tired of sticking your finger in dirt. If you test your container's weight at each stage, eventually you will get a general idea of when it's time to water by merely lifting it -- no mess!

Now that you know how to test if your plant is ready to be watered, when should you water it?

Re-Think Your Watering Schedule

You may have heard creating a watering schedule is an easy way to keep up. Unfortunately, creating a schedule for when to water your plants is likely to cause under-watering or overwatering. Remember, there are many factors that affect when you should water & these variables mean timing can fluctuate week by week, ultimately proving a set watering schedule worthless.

However, you should make a schedule for when to test the soil for moisture!

Keeping a record of when to check up on your plant's soil can help manage multiple plants.

For instance, Maidenhair Ferns can take on irreparable damage if the soil dries out completely. For this reason, you should add this plant to your Soil Check Schedule every few days.

  • You can eliminate the need to water every few days by using a heavier soil that holds moisture longer.

STEP BY STEP. 1. Check the soil to determine when it is time to water.

2. Saturate the soil — keep watering until you see it coming out of the drainage hole. - No drainage hole? Repot it. A planter without a drainage hole is called a cache pot. Cache pots are great for houseplants in areas where a drainage hole or water seepage is problematic. However, to properly use a cache pot you should not plant your houseplant directly in the pot. There should be a removable liner with drainage holes that sits flush to the inside of the pot. The purpose of the liner is so you can remove the plant when it comes time to water it. Once you’ve watered your plant, let the water drain, & then plop it back in the cache pot!

Click here for more information on why you must have a drainage hole. 2. Throw away your watering schedule. You can make a schedule for when to check the soil to see what if your plant needs to be watered, but keeping to a set once-per-week or every-few-days schedule can easily lead to overwatering or under watering.

3. Use a watering can. 4. Get rid of any excess water that is left in the bottom of the pot. 5. Wait to water again until the soil has reached appropriate dryness for individual plant.

& last, but certainly not least --


That is how you water plants properly.

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