While accurate digits are challenging to acquire, it appears that incorrect hydration schedules have killed more houseplants compared to any other specific reason. 

And believe it or not, there is a consistency to inappropriate watering behaviors. To begin with, folks who are novices to houseplants tend to overwater their collection in the spirit of “pampering the babies.” At the same time, the rest find it therapeutic! 

Taking care of your houseplants can sound like a real job on occasion. There seems to be a lot to keep in mind, from watering your plants to ensuring they receive adequate sunshine. 

Hence, understanding when and how to water your houseplants is among the most effective and simple strategies to ensure health. And maybe give you a few blooms once in a while!

Although watering the houseplants appears to be a trivial job, plenty of us battle to do it right. 

So this is because there are so many elements that determine when and how frequently one should water. And the subsequent struggle would be how much water each plant demands.

A vegetation indigenous to the South American rainforests, for instance, will require more water than a cactus or succulent endemic to the Mexican plain. It is incredibly crucial to know how much water to provide your houseplants for them to survive.

As a general rule to watering, watch out for the substrate. You must maintain the potting soil for houseplants; damp but not soggy. 

One should water them once or twice a week. The amount of water they require depends on the circumstances in each part of the home. 

Evaluate the amount of sunlight, temperature, ventilation, dryness, and distance from doors and windows. Plants exposed to more sunshine or greater temperatures may require more water.

Table of Contents

What type of water is the best for your houseplant?

Unless treated, ordinary tap water ought to be suitable for the houseplants. But, if it contains minerals that can accumulate in the soil and cause difficulties, refrain from such liquids both for yourself and the plants! 

Most houseplants can tolerate chlorinated water, but it is much healthier for your plants if you possess a filter system.

Most plants are unaffected by chlorine, although some may acquire brown/black leaf tips if exposed to it for an extended amount of time. 

Hence, permit tap water to stay in an open container for at least 24 hours to ensure that the chlorine has evaporated before using it to water plants. 

Another option is to gather rainwater and put it to good use. Room-temperature water is preferable irrespective of nature and climate. 

Do not make the mistake of pouring refrigerated water on your plant on a hot summer afternoon! 

Because either extremity, whether cold or hot, can harm your houseplant, it is better to immediately replenish your watering tool after each round and set it aside until the next round to balance out the temperature. In that manner, there will be plenty of time to reach the ideal temperature.

Different types of watering practices

Kid watering house plant
A kid watering house plant | Image Credit – Alex Green

1. Watering from above 

Spray water from above if your species enjoys its leaves being drenched. Most tropical vegetation and fronds fall into this group. But, if you don’t saturate the soil, you risk soaking the foliage without getting any hydration to the roots.

2. Watering from the ground

  1. Place your plant in a water tub of at least 3cm shallow.
  2. Allow the plant to sit for 15 minutes before removing and draining.
  3. If your plants don’t like damp leaves or stems, use this strategy to water them.

3. Misting leaves and aerial roots

Some plants collect water via their foliage and apical roots, which can be misted. Orchids, Swiss cheese plants, and areca palms are just a few specimens. To maintain the soil and roots, spray the leaves and roots frequently.

4. Soaking air plants

Be sure that you weekly soak air plants in a dish of freshwater or distilled water for about an hour. Allow them to drain entirely after immersion, and ensure they are scorched within 3 hours to avoid decaying. Furthermore, mist them twice or three times per week.

5. Watering bromeliads 

Bromeliad blades and bracts (petal-like twisted leaflets) build a cup-like pool in the center within most bromeliads, such as the silver vase plant and the Amazonian Zebra Plant. Load it with rainwater or deionized water once every few weeks and hydrate them. Water the soil as well to keep it healthy.

Rules to watering your potted houseplants

A plant enthusiast watering her monstera plant
A plant enthusiast watering her monstera plant | Image Credit – Sasha Kim

And if you want to master the art of watering your houseplants, memorize the ABCs of watering as given below.

1. Water the soil, not the entire plant

It is also crucial to prevent showering the foliage when watering your houseplant, especially if it is not of tropical origins. 

Make doubly sure the nozzle of your watering tool is pointing at the dirt and not the plants. This simple technique aids in the prevention of bacterial diseases, fungal infections, and other chronic illnesses.

2. Not all plants have the exact water requirement

Houseplants are divided into two categories: dry and wet. Cacti, succulents, and various other vegetation (aloe vera, ZZ plant, snake plant, etc.) belong to the dry kind. 

They prefer dry, porous, and sandy soil. Therefore they don’t require as much water as some other species. Depending on the temperature of the space, soaking them once or twice a month may suffice. 

Most varieties of indoor plants, on the other extreme, prefer to be watered almost every other day. 

This way is how most tropical plants function. Several common houseplants, such as pothos, are native to tropical climates where it pours frequently. 

These varieties typically have large foliage that requires plenty of water to maintain their appearance. 

Hence, house plants endemic to tropical areas and accustomed to better humidity levels than our homes can fall under this category. 

Furthermore, plants that flourish in low light and high humidity, such as philodendrons, are suitable for cultivation in a terrarium with optimal moisture and misting.

3. What size is your plant?

Taller plants require more water than those that are tiny. Larger plants take up more moisture through their root system for breathing and shed more moisture through transpiration as they have abundant foliage. 

However, immature plants that are developing may also have a more considerable water demand than mature plants that are not constantly expanding.

4. What is the material of your plant pot?

If your plant pot is made up of plastic, then the plant might not require frequent watering. Plastic pots limit the evaporation of water from the pot. 

As for clay and terracotta pots, they permit the evaporation of water from the soil and, at the same time, absorb a significant amount of water. Hence, plants in terracotta and other organic pots require more frequent watering.

5. Winters are a water-saving season!

Although it may seem paradoxical, generally, indoor plants require less water in cold weather. 

While it is true that cold air is dryer, plants develop at a slower pace, and some even go nocturnal during the cold season. 

Houseplants require less moisture to be hydrated in winters, and overwatering can cause root disease. 

Furthermore, the topsoil may dry out more rapidly, but this isn’t necessarily a sign that the plant requires water. 

Before watering your plant, press your fingertip into the dirt an inch or two underneath the top to see if it is dry.

6. Watering from below is best

Some plants require constant watering to maintain their roots hydrated, while others are at threat of decaying if drenched too close to the stem or crown. 

Dropping water on the foliage of some houseplants, such as African violets, causes them to fade and become spotty. 

On the other hand, water may not seep into the substrate but rather flow down the edges of the container if your plant becomes root-bound. Hence, watering houseplants from the base removes these issues and provides more substrate hydration.

7. Choose your watering tool wisely

For optimum saturation of all walls of the container and plant without spillage, use watering equipment with a lengthy nozzle. It is also helpful in watering suspended plants that are a little tough to reach.

Things to remember

Woman watering plant
Woman watering plant | Image Credit – ROCKETMANN TEAM
  • Early morning watering is preferred to evening or late-night watering schedules. Whatever drips on the foliage will have a better stance to dry out and dissipate throughout the day as the temperatures are higher. The longer water remains on leaf tissue, the greater the chance of infection development.
  • Like a dry sponge, pot sediment repels water instead of soaking it right away. If you have ever hydrated your plant and the water ran straight through the drainage holes, you have not adequately watered it. As a result, it is advisable to water lightly and gradually.
  • On a timetable, you should monitor whether your indoor plants demand water but don’t water them according to a rigid timeline. Because some houseplants require more or less watering than others, adhering to a once-a-week or twice-a-week schedule might lead to over watering as well as underwatering.
  • Water purification and softening methods incorporate salt, which might harm your houseplants’ wellbeing. Load your watering tool at an outdoor spout if your cleaner is linked to all your faucets or if you are not entirely sure how they are connected. If you have a stream nearby, better get your freshwater refill from the natural stream for a healthy houseplant.
  • While watering plants with delicate, fuzzy leaves, as well as succulents and cacti, you should prevent getting water on their leaf tissue and stem.
  • To avoid waterlogging, maintain plants in containers with a few drainage holes.

To Wrap Up

Woman taking care of her houseplants
Woman taking care of her houseplants | Image Credit – Los Muertos Crew

Unfortunately, you can present your plants with too much of a beautiful thing and kill them!

But the good news is it is not hard to formulate effective watering routines as per your comfort and your plant’s demands. 

Having said this, it takes a few essential components, such as steadiness and, at the very minimum, a desire to pay heed to your houseplants and “interpret” their cues. In the end, the best point of reference to watering is the plants themselves. Know your plant!

Plants withering indicate that they require more water, while plants browning and appearing drained out may be receiving too much. 

If you are unsure whether to water your plants or not, the best piece of recommendation is to leave it out this time. Plants should be somewhat dry rather than entirely moist.

(Last Updated on May 12, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!