The best thing you can do for your plants after watering them, is make sure they don’t sit in water.
Watering house rules
- Never let your grow pot sit in water
- Water enough so you can see the water running through the bottom of the grow pot. This means the water has reached all the roots.
- Don’t stick to a watering schedule. Watering frequency depends on where your plant is situated and its environmental conditions.
- 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).
- Touch the top of the soil with your finger
- If your soil is moist on top hold off watering.
- Poke your finger down 2-3cm. If the soil feels moist check back in a couple of days. If it’s dry 2-3cm down, then water.
- Note: for succulents and plants with low-water requirements, only water when the soil has completely dried out (every few weeks).
Sometimes if you’ve left your plant un-watered 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 moister.
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.
- 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.
- Always 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.