"Not too much", "Not too little", "Just a little bit"... The instructions are endless.
That's the reason why at Rooted Houseplants, we've come up with a few simple rules about watering to keep your indoor plants happy. Then, you'll see that with time, you’ll get a feel for it.
TYPE OF WATER
At Rooted Houseplants, we use room-temperature rain water to water our plants. We would suggest you do the same if possible especially for Calatheas, as tap water has heavy lime content. If you haven’t got access to rain water, pour some tap water in a watering can and leave it for 24 hours to reach room temperature, and give it a chance to dissipate chemicals. If you haven't got a garden, ask your friends and family to collect rain water for you !
HOW TO WATER
Nowadays, most of the decorative plant pots available on the market haven't got drainage holes.
So if you are plant beginner, we suggest you keep the plants in the plastic nursery pots with drainage holes, so that any excess water can drain out.
You should always empty out the excess water that is sitting at the bottom of the decorative pot.
You'll find that a watering can with a long narrow end is really useful.
Top Surface Watering
If the plant is potted in a container, or if that plant is happy to get its foliage wet, like tropical plants such as ferns. You can water from above. Make sure that the water reaches the soil so that the roots get water. This method should only be used when there is a good drainage system to avoid root rot.
Plants come in different sizes, and they almost all will benefit from being stood on a tray or bucket of water. Leave for 20/30 minutes, then remove it from the bucket and drain the excess water before putting it back in the pot. This will give them a really good drink, water reaching the roots first.
The advantage of this technique is that you can control the amount of water absorbed by the plant.
WHEN TO WATER
When it comes to watering your plants, you should be flexible. Some plants might need more watering, more often than others.
It also all depends on how dry / hot your room is. Each family of plants have different needs for water.
We try to be as specific as possible on our care instructions to help you understand your plant's needs.
The best way to see if your plant needs water is simply to get your hands dirty and feel the soil. Feel the soil of your plants every 2-4 days by just popping 1 inch of your finger in the soil to feel the moisture.
If it feels dry you can water you plant, if it feels damp you should wait 1-2 days before rechecking and watering.
You should also water less often your houseplants during winter, as they get into what we call a dormant period, when the plant growth is slower and the temperatures are lower.
TIP: If you are in doubt about watering a plant, best to leave it for a couple of days. More plants die from overwatering than anything else.
If you are really panicking about your your watering schedule, you can purchase a moisture meter, which will show you the moisture level of your soil. They can be helpful, but we think they are not essential for the houseplant parent. Re-connect with Nature and feel the dirt !
SIGNS OF OVERWATERING
- Green moss on the surface of the soil
- White mould on top of the soil
- Leaves and flowers falling prematurely
- New leaves becoming yellow
- Rotten new growths
- Rotten stems and leaves
SIGNS OF UNDERWATERING
- Leaves and flowers falling prematurely
- Droopy leaves
- No new growth
- The plant doesn’t flower
- Shrivelled leaves
- Light pot weight
WATERING CACTUS AND SUCCULENTS
When talking about watering, we always say to think about the plant in its natural habitat. Cactus and succulents live in very dry and arid condition with lot of direct light, heat and very low moisture. That's the reason why this kind of plant needs to be watered less frequently than the rest of your plants. They get their water from the ground, so the watering from the bottom is the best method for this kind of plant. It will take what it needs. Make sure to avoid getting water on the leaves of your succulents and cactus or this will cause them to rot.
WATERING WHILE YOU ARE AWAY
If you decide to go away only for a couple of days, and you've watered the plants before you left, your plants will be fine.
Beyond that, if you haven’t got a neighbour or a friend that can help you, here's a few ideas:
For plants in plastic nursery pots
The best way is to use a capillary mat. You can find capillary mat on the internet or from you garden centre.
Place one side of the mat in a sink full with water, (Make sure the plug is put on properly so the water doesn’t leak!) then place the other side over the draining board. Place your plants on the part of the mat that is on the draining board. The mat will absorb the water, which is then absorbed by the plants through the drainage holes.
For plants are in ceramic pots with no drainage holes
You simply need to cut off the end of a plastic bottle, and making a tiny hole in the lid with a toothpick. Push the bottle lid down into the plant and fill the bottle with water, this will then drip slowly in the soil.
You can also use an oil-lamp wick by planting one end in the soil and the other end in a bucket of water. Capillary action will tranfer water from one end to another.
If you still have questions about watering, feel free to contact us. We are always happy to help!