Probably the most vital component of plant
care is that of watering. Coincidently, this is also
one of the trickiest parts to figure out. Most plants
are often killed due to improper watering, than any
other cause. Most often this comes in the form of overwatering,
rather than underwatering.
Different plants have
different watering requirements. However, here are some
of the more common categories of soil moisture requirements.
- Moderately moist soil preferred: Plants
falling in this category like to have slightly moist
soil all the time(please note the difference between
moist and soaking wet). Do not allow soil to dry out
- Allow soil to dry between waterings:
These plants can tolerate being more on the dry side.
They should be watered when the top inches of soil
feel dry to the touch.
- Keep dry: Plants in this category
include cacti and succulents. These plants evolved
in deserts and other dry environments. As a result,
they are able to store water for long periods of time.
These plants should be kept dry and watered infrequently.
A plant’s moisture needs will also
vary depending on its environment. For instance, a plant
in a small container will dry out faster than one in
a large container, and a plant in bright light will
dry out faster than one in low light. Additionally,
a plant may need more water during its active growth
period (usually in the spring/summer), whereas most
plants will need less water during their rest period
(usually during the winter). Therefore, amount and frequency
of watering is dependent upon individual environmental
conditions, and a plant’s particular care requirements.
Types of watering methods:
- Top-watering à This is the most
common watering method in which the plant is watered
from above. When watering this way, be sure to continue
watering until water comes out the drainage holes
on the bottom of the pot. This way you know that the
water has penetrated all the way through the soil
to the roots.
- Bottom watering à With the bottom
watering method, fill the saucer under the plant with
water. The plant’s roots will suck up water
from the saucer. This method works well for plants
such as African Violets.
- Water submersal à Sometimes,
water does not soak into the plant’s soil, instead
it runs down the side of the pot around the rootball.
This often happens when the soil becomes severely
dry. In these cases, the best way to water the plant
is to submerge the whole pot in water. This way, the
roots will take up water from its surroundings. Remove
the plant from the water when the soil has become
- Wick watering à For wick watering,
a wick of water-absorbent fabric is used. One end
of the wick is placed in the pot, near the plant’s
roots, and the other end of the wick is placed in
a reservoir of water. The roots take up water from
the reservoir via the wick.
General watering tips:
- Always use lukewarm, room temperature
water, never use cold water
- Never allow plants to sit in
water, always empty saucers after watering plants
- It is better to water in the
morning or afternoon rather than at night
- Get to know your plants water
needs. You can tell if a plant needs to be watered
by sticking your finger into the soil, or by using
a moisture meter to tell when the soil gets dry. Also
observing how long your plant can go before drying
may also be helpful. Water only when the plant needs
- Know the signs of water-induced
stress. For example, if you plant suddenly becomes
limp and wilted, this is a sign that your plant is
not getting enough water, so check to see if the soil
has dried out.
Written by Adrienne Kleintop