Water is so good on a hot summer day! And it's good for our plants. But did you know we can drown them in love or make them sick with the wrong kind of water! Too much, how much, when, how to water are all burning questions on a plant mom's/dad's mind. We'll help you through the watering process, so get your watering cans out and a 3 in 1 plant meter, and let's get to watering!
One of the essential elements for a plant to photosynthesize is water.
Here, we will discuss how to determine
1). When your plant needs water
2). How often to water
3). How to water correctly
4). What depth to water
This little plant lesson is gonna make or break you, so sit up, read slowly, take notes, and pay attention! Your plants will love you for it!
How to Check If Your Indoor Plant Needs Water
Whether you're working with potted plants inside or in the garden, we recommend Lively Root's 3 in 1 plant meter. This garden gadget takes the guesswork out of whether the roots of your plants need water. The probes are long enough to reach the spot close to the roots, especially if you have larger pots where a finger measure isn't going to suffice. In addition, this meter gives you a scale from 1-10, with one being the driest and ten being the wettest. This nifty gadget is like a life preserver to your plants if you tend to overwater! Do your plants think to themselves, "Oh, here she comes again, wanting to water us, and my toes are still wet from the last time!"
Additionally, keeping your plant care cards handy in a notebook will give you an easy reference for each plant. For example, the plant care card for the Peperomia Ginny you receive from Lively Root explains that the soil needs to dry out entirely between waterings, so you would wait until the soil is reading in the red zone between 1-3.
We will explain a different way for outdoor plants to determine how much water your plant needs, so stay tuned for our vlog on outdoor watering! You can also find this information here on our website.
Best Water for Your Indoor Plants
Some plants are sensitive to fluoride or chlorine in the water. You may see adverse effects like browning tips or edges. Therefore, Lively Root recommends using filtered, bottled, distilled, rainwater, or tap water sitting out 24-48 hours to dissipate the chemicals.
How Often to Water Indoor Plants
Sun exposure will heat things in your home, and light intensity will work with the moisture in the air to create humidity. In addition, the leaves and soil will dry out faster in the spring and summer months since the plant is actively growing and photosynthesizing. That means your plant will need some extra water for all that work. Check it often to see its needs and stay on a watering routine.
Air Drafts can also dry the soil out faster. If you have an overhead fan circulating the air, it will increase moisture evaporation more quickly. A cooling vent nearby blowing on the plant can do the same thing, as well as a fireplace or heater. Remove your plants out of these spots, so they don't become ill with stress.
Types of Pots
The type of pot you transplant your Lively Root plant into will also determine how often to water. Our ecopots consist of 80% recycled plastics and 20% recycled natural stone. Plastics tend to retain the moisture in a pot longer than, say, terracotta or a ceramic pot. So if you're using a terracotta or clay pot, check the soil moisture frequently during the week.
Every plant needs good drainage. If your plant is in a grower pot and you have it sitting in a cachet pot like one of our ecopots or baskets, make sure to lift it out when you water. Give it time to drain. Set it in the sink after watering and let it drain for at least an hour before popping it back into the decorative container without drainage. If you happen to get lazy and not lift it out, you can drown its roots as the water drains in the cachet pot and will take too long to evaporate. Don't cause your plants to talk bad about you! You don't want diseases to inflict them. This habit leaves a greater chance of root rot or fungus gnats attacking your plant. No time for that. Uh-uh. No way.
The soil mix will determine how fast the soil drains and retains water. Some plants like Lively Root's African violets, cacti, succulents, and palms, require a different specialty mix. So be aware and don't plant your plant in general potting soil that may need lots of extra drainage.
Hotter temperatures in the house will dry your plant's soil out faster as the opposite occurs in winter with the heater or fireplace. If your Lively Root plants enjoy the outdoors on a covered porch or patio, be aware that the heat can dehydrate them, just like it does to you! The hotter the weather, the more water they'll drink! Gulp, gulp!
So we have covered sun exposure, air drafts, types of pots, drainage, soil mix, and temperatures all play a part in how often you'll need to water.
Watering Needs & Growth of Indoor Plants
Each plant's water needs are different depending on its natural habitat. For instance, Lively Root's Ponytail Palm comes from the deserts of Mexico, and it likes to dry out thoroughly between waterings, as do our succulents and echeveria! So be aware of your plant's particular lighting and watering needs and accommodate them accordingly! Every plant requires 'custom service!'
How to Water Indoor Plants
Watering Plants from Above
When your plant needs watering, lift the leaves to get the spout directly over the soil. Then slowly pour lukewarm water over the mix, being careful not to overflow the pot. As you're watering, turn the container slowly to distribute the water evenly, so all the roots get adequate moisture. You can stop when you see the water draining through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Let the pot continue to drain with a saucer or in a sink for at least an hour. Afterward, you can dump the remaining water out of the saucer and lift it back into the cachet pot.
The benefit of this watering method is it helps leach the soil of mineral salts that can accumulate over time from fertilizing. Eeeek! We have a short blog about this on our website.
Plants with fuzzy leaves like the African Violet prefer not to have water on their leaves. Therefore, water from the bottom by soaking the pot in a shallow water bowl. In these cases, we like to use a terracotta pot to soak up the water quickly. Clay and terracotta are porous and therefore permeable to water. Soak for about fifteen minutes, depending on the size of the pot. Then use the 3 in 1 plant meter to check the proper moisture level for your plant's water needs to ensure it's thoroughly watered.
Misting Leaves & Aerial Roots
If you have plants that grow aerial roots, like Lively Root's Philodendron, Pothos, and Monstera, you can mist them once a week with filtered or distilled water to give them moisture. These aerial roots attach themselves to surfaces to support themselves in their native habitat to grow upwards in search of sunlight. Epiphytic plants grow on other plants and take in water from the atmosphere and benefit from misting. Lively root offers Anthurium, Bird's Nest Fern, Bromeliads, and Staghorn Fern that can all benefit from misting.
Often we are not aware that salts can hurt our plants. If you have a water softener, be mindful that some plants don't like it, so you'll have to find an alternative water source. One of these that's sensitive to soft water is Lively Root's Bromeliads. To water, use unsoftened water and pour water in the center of the cuplike reservoir every couple of weeks. Moisten the soil as you water the center part too.
Soaking Air plants
Tillandsia or Air plants are another epiphyte and can grow or sit on many surfaces. To water these:
- Soak them in a tray of unsoftened water for at least a half-hour.
- Let it drain upside down so water drips away from the leaves and doesn't get caught in the crevices.
- Ensure they dry thoroughly after four hours to keep them from growing mold or rotting.
Misting is another watering method for these plants too! Mist them two to three times a week and follow the same plan for draining.
Watering Cacti and Succulents
Watering from the bottom is generally the best way to water cacti and succulents because they don't like water standing on their leaves. If you do water from the top-down, make sure you hit the soil and not pour directly over the leaves, or water can get trapped between the wedges and cause issues with your plant. I recommend planting them in a breathable and absorbent pot to soak up the water for this method. Wait until the soil is bone dry before watering again. Use your 3 in 1 plant meter to take its moisture level so you can get an accurate reading of the soil.
Wow, we've covered a lot of watering tips here! If you have any of your own to share we didn't mention, give us your awesome watering wisdom in a social media video and tag us!
Keep yourself and those plants well-watered!