Plant Watering 101!
Watering is one of the most essential elements when it comes to caring for your houseplants. However, it is also one of the easiest things to mess up as a plant parent (especially as a new plant parent)!
Our plants need the right balance of water and light. The amount of water that you give depends on the amount of light that the plant is receiving. For example, if I have a Pothos (Epipremnum Aureum) in a dark corner of a room, it will probably only need watering every 1.5-2 weeks. However, if it is getting bright indirect light from a nearby window, it will most likely need watering every week. Water is a key ingredient for a plant to create its own food through photosynthesis (along with light energy and carbon dioxide), so it definitely is necessary to study your plant’s water consumption in order for it to live its best life!
How to learn your plant's watering consumption habits:
This will depend on the plant. One thing that many people don’t realize is that plants can actually communicate their needs to you, especially when they need water! Many plants will wilt when they are thirsty, and I’m a believer that it is a pretty good idea (most of the time) to wait for that wilting signal before you water. Here are some plants that I wait for to wilt:
-Peace Lily (the drama queen)
-Succulents (most succulents will literally shrivel and get little wrinkles when thirsty. I think waiting for this signal with succulents is a MUST as they get overwatered very easily!)
-Heart Leaf Philodendron
Now, when waiting for this signal, you do not need to wait for the plant to be COMPLETELY wilted and looking like it's on the brink of death. Just keep an eye on it, and whenever you notice the leaves start to droop a little bit, go ahead and water.
Although many plants will wilt when they are thirsty, not all of them do. With these plants that don't wilt, you will need to pay attention to the soil. Learning how to check when the soil is dry is also a great way to learn your plant’s watering habits. To do this, I recommend using a long skinny object like a chopstick or even just something like a butter knife. Many people recommend using your finger to feel the soil, however we oftentimes can only feel the top soil with our short lil fingers instead of throughout the whole pot.
To test the soil for dryness: take your chopstick or similar object and stick it into the soil, fairly deep, and pull it out. If the chopstick comes out clean with little to no dirt on it, your soil is dry and you should go ahead and water it. If it comes out with soil stuck to it (normally damp soil), then it is not dry yet and I would recommend waiting a couple days before checking back again.
Here are a few plants that don’t wilt when thirsty:
Most philodendrons, such as Monsteras
Although these plants don't wilt when thirsty right away, they will wilt EVENTUALLY if they go too long without watering, as any living thing would! But, at that point it is too late for the plant and it is often left with some damage.
Overwatering is one of the most common issue when it comes to houseplants. If you aren't confident in your plants watering habits, I would HIGHLY suggest that you put it in a pot with drainage holes. This allows excess water to drain out of the pot after watering so that water doesn't sit at the bottom of the pot. This could cause root rot and leaf yellowing. If you don't like having pots with drainage holes, you can also use a cachepot, and just place the plant, still in its nursery pot, into the cachepot. A cachepot is simply a planter without a drainage hole. If you put the nursery pot into the cachepot, the water will drain into the cachepot. Just remember to empty out the cachepot a little bit after watering!