59January 11, 2012

At this time of the year, many gardeners’ thoughts turn to houseplants. For those who have had houseplants for many years, the winter months allow gardeners to catch up on the transplanting and maintenance of the plants. Many people who want to get into gardening will also try their hand at growing houseplants. Once the selection has been made, the age-old question comes up; “ How many times a week do I water these plants? “ This is where the potential for trouble begins.

First off, winter is the time when most houseplants need the least amount of water. They are in a semi-dormant time of the year. During this period of time, thy may need more humidity to keep the foliage healthy but the roots are not taking up much water. If the soil is kept wet all the time, the roots can actually die from too much water. As a matter of fact, the most common cause of death for houseplants is over watering. The question remains, how often should you water your houseplants?

There are many factors that will influence how much water your houseplants will need. As I said earlier, winter is a time of the year that most houseplants need less water. As the days get longer and the plants begin to get more light, they will begin to grow again and they will need more water. The amount of water the plant needs will vary from variety to variety, but if you realize that now is a time when the plants need less water and from roughly March to October, they will need more water you have a basis for how often to water your plants.

The amount of humidity in the air will also determine how often you need to water your plants. Dry air will pull moisture out of the leaves. Humidity levels can vary from home to home. Temperature can also cause plants to need more water. The warmer the temperatures, the more water plants will need. The amount of light the plant needs can also affect how much water a plant will need. Plants that grow in full sunlight will generally need more water than those plants that are grown in lower light conditions. Confusing as this may seem, there are some easy answers.

You can buy a tool called a moisture meter. It is probably one of the least known tools that we sell in our store. The moisture meter has a probe that is inserted into the soil. Within a few seconds, the meter will give you a reading of the moisture level in the soil. Most of the meters come with a chart that will tell you what moisture level you should maintain for a particular variety of plant. Once the moisture level falls below a particular point, it is time to water the plant.

When it is time to water the plant, you should always water the soil with enough water so that water comes out of the bottom of the pot. The excess water should be dumped out. The reason for this is that salts can build up in the soil. Excess salt in the soil can cause browning along the edges of the leaves and ultimately the death of the plant. The salt naturally occurs in our water and salts naturally occur in the fertilizer we use to feed our plants.

As you can see, there is no hard and fast answer as to how often you should water your plants. The conditions in your home and the needs of the plant are all determining factors. I guess the real answer is, you water the plants when they need the water.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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