Watering 101

Watering 101

Isn’t H2O wonderful?

It’s the joy of letting fresh raindrops fall on your cheeks, plunging into a gin clear mountain stream, or drinking an ice-cold glass of lemon water on a hot day. There’d be no life without it. Water comprises almost 60% of an adult human’s body weight. For a plant, it’s 80 – 90%!

But, plants don't like to sit in water all day. The quickest way to kill a houseplant is to overwater it.

The dreaded root rot problem. Most plants like a porous soil, allowing room for water and air pockets. Soil acts like a sponge, and too much water makes the sponge dense, squashes the air pockets and suffocates the roots. This is not usually a problem when the soil drains well, it occurs when the grow pot ends up sitting in a pool of water that collects at the bottom of your decorative planter.

The best thing you can do for your plants after watering them, is make sure they don’t sit in water.

TIP: Use our Pumice Stones as an added drainage layer to prevent root rot.

 Watering house rules

  • Never let your grow pot sit in water
  • Take your grow pot from the decorative planter and hold it under the kitchen or bathroom tap. Water enough so you can see the water running through the drainage holes. This means the water has reached the roots. Leave the grow pot in the sink for a few minutes so the excess water can drain out.
  • Don’t stick to a watering schedule. Watering frequency depends on where your plant is situated and its environmental conditions. Rather water less often, but deeply.
  • Use a layer of gravel, small stones or LECA, at the bottom of the planter as a drainage layer, and place your grow pot on top. This prevents it from sitting in a pool of water.


  • Plants in small pots dry out quicker and need more frequent watering than plants in large pots.
  • Plants in sun dry out quicker than plants in shade.
  • Humid air keeps soil moist for longer than dry air. 

When to water

The poke test: (Sorry ladies, prepare to get some dirt under your fingernails).

  1. Touch the top of the soil with your finger
  2. If your soil is moist on top hold off watering. Unless the plant is a Fern, Calathea, Alocasia or it states in the care instructions that it likes to be fairly moist on top
  3. Poke your finger down 2-3cm. If the soil feels moist 2-3cm down then you can leave it for another day or two. Check back in a couple of days. If it’s dry 2-3cm down, then water. 
  4. Note: for succulents and plants with low-water requirements, only water when the soil has dried out about 50% down.

Sometimes if you’ve left your plant dry for too long you’ll notice the water immediately rushes out the drainage holes. This is a sign that the soil is too dry to absorb any water.

In this case you may need to submerge your entire grow pot in a bath of water until you see bubbles escaping from the top of the soil. When the bubbles stop it means the soil has rejuvenated and is absorbing the water. If it’s not practical to dunk the entire plant in water, water several times over, waiting 15 minutes in between. You’ll start to notice the soil getting darker, and stays moist for longer.

Look out for...

Plant cells act like balloons, when they are filled with water they expand and the plant stands tall and upright. Too little water and the cells deflate, giving the plant that wilted look. Transpiration is the process where water in the plant evaporates into the air through stomata, or pores on the leaves. This process ‘pulls’ the water up from the roots. If there’s not enough water, the roots pull the water back from the leaves, resulting in drooping leaves.

 Top tips

  • Keep like with like. Group plants with similar watering requirements together. Ie: succulents in one group and ferns in another. This makes watering easier.                                                                                                    
  • Use a long-necked watering can. This allows you to water the soil directly without wetting the leaves, as this can cause fungal problems. The leaves of most tropical plants are slightly waxy. You’ll notice that water slides off them easily. This is to protect them from fungal attack in rainforest environments where water can be excessive.
  • Water in the morning. Watering at night encourages dampness, which can lead to fungal attack.
  • Always think of your plants' natural environment. Is it a desert? Or a humid jungle? If you can create similar conditions it will be happy.
  • Water less in winter. During winter there is less transpiration, and plants won’t enjoy being over-watered.
  • Use room temperature water. Tepid water is better absorbed.

Once you’ve got the basics, the rest is easy. If you’re feeling stuck about watering, let us know – we’ll be glad to help!