Success with Houseplants: Watering Correctly

flowering houseplants
Flowering Houseplants. UF IFAS photo by Mary Derrick.

Plants add color, interesting textures and, of course, beauty to our indoor living environments. The air is freshened with the oxygen they provide.

Keep them healthy by watering correctly. Plants have differing water requirements so take a moment to look up some good research-based information on your particular plants and find out what kind of watering regime is best for them. For most houseplants, it’s time to water when the top inch or so of soil is dry to the touch. Some do best when they dry considerably before watering, like succulents, while others, like cineraria, like to stay evenly moist. It may help to group your plants by their water requirements so you can better remember and manage their watering needs.

When it is time to water, make sure to water thoroughly so that excess water drains from the pot. There are several really good reasons to follow that practice. First, a thorough watering allows all the soil and roots to be moistened and you avoid having dry spots in the soil. Also, when the excess water drains, it takes with it the excess salts from fertilizers. When excess salts build up over time, the roots can be damaged and the plant can eventually die. One of the first plant symptoms is brown, dead tips of the leaves. A definitive sign of excess salt is a white mineral build up around the inside edges of the pot or on the surface of the soil. If you already have a salt build-up, you can water heavily a few times to help leach the salts or re-pot your plant with some fresh potting soil.

One last tip – once you water your plants, don’t let the pots and the roots sit in water. Dump out any standing water.

For more information, please see:

Solutions for Your Life: Houseplants

Gardening Solutions: Salt Build-up in Houseplants

Virginia Extension: Indoor Plant Culture




Posted: May 13, 2014

Category: Horticulture
Tags: Green Industry, Houseplants, Irrigation, Panhandle Gardening

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