Effective houseplant watering can be one of the hardest parts of keeping houseplants alive and healthy. With too little or too much water the plant will die, and various plants have different watering requirements. The plant’s location and soil type can also affect the amount of water it needs.
Whenever you buy a new houseplant, learn about its specific watering requirements. Most houseplants prefer consistently moist soil. Some plants, however, require wetter soil while others need their soil to be dry. In general, if the soil is visibly wet on the top, there is no need to water it. If the soil starts to come away from the sides of the pot, it is much too dry.
The right kind of pot is also important for good houseplant watering. The pot must have a drainage hole at the bottom so water doesn’t sit inside and rot the roots. Water sitting in the pot’s dish can also cause the roots to rot. For most houseplants, it works best to water them outside or over the sink and let all the excess water drain out. This insures uniform moisture in the soil.
Some people prefer to have a houseplant watering schedule and water their plants once a week on the same day. This is fine if it helps you remember to water your plants regularly, but you should keep a close eye on them in the first few weeks. Some plants will dry out faster if they are in direct sunlight, sandy soil, or a very warm room, while others can stay quite wet if their soil has a lot of clay or if their environment is shady or humid.
For short vacations of two weeks or less, a good way to keep your houseplants watered is to put a clear plastic bag over them with a rubber band holding the bag around the pot, which will trap moisture and return it to the soil. Keep the plants out of direct sunlight if you choose this houseplant watering method. Other commercial types of vacation houseplant watering systems are available such as watering mats which deliver water from underneath the plant, capillary and drip systems, and moisture-retaining beads that you put directly into the soil.