52January 11, 2018

“How often do I need to water this plant? Should I water it once a week? Should I water it every day?” These are questions I get almost every day from my customers. The problem is that there is no correct answer. Let me explain to you what you need to be doing when it comes time to water your plants.

Since very few of you are gardening outside now, let’s start this conversation with the houseplants you have in your home. There are a lot of factors that go into determining how often you will need to water houseplants in your home. These factors include how warm it is in your home, how much humidity there is in your home, how much sun the plant is exposed to and how much air movement there is in your home. Let’s take a look at each of these factors.

The air temperature in your home can be different from what the temperature is in someone else’s home. As a general rule, warmer temperature mean that the plants lose moisture through the leaves more quickly. This will cause the soil to dry quicker and require that you water more often than someone with a similar plant in a cooler house.

The amount of humidity in the air will affect how often you need to water. Very dry air will pull moisture out of the leaves quickly. Once the heat goes on in your house, the air will naturally dry out quickly. During the summer months, the air tends to be a lot more humid even if you are running air conditioning in your home.

If a plant needs a lot of sunshine, the sun can dry out the leaves and it can also dry out the soil. With the intensity of the sun being stronger in the summer, you would probably need to water a lot more often than you would need to do during the winter months.

Air movement in your home can dry out your plants quickly. Warm, dry winter air movement will dry out leaves quicker than the cooler and moister air of the summer.

So, how often do you need to water your plants? The general rule of thumb is that that plant care tag that comes with the plant will tell you if the soil needs to be moist all the time or if the soil needs to go a bit dryer between times that you water. What I usually tell my customers is that you should take one of your fingers and push the finger into the soil to the depth of the first knuckle on your finger. If the soil feels moist, don’t water the plant.

Once the soil begins to feel dry, you want to water the soil with warm water. Modern day potting soils absorb warm water better than cold water. You should apply enough water onto the soil so that water comes out the bottom of the pot. The water that comes out the bottom of the pot should be discarded. The reason is that our water and any fertilizers that you use contain a certain amount of salt. If you don’t leach the salt out of the soil, you will wind up with damaged leaves. Once you have watered a particular plant a few times, then you will know how often you need to water that plant.

Here are a couple of things you need to know. You can buy a moisture meter at most garden centers. We carry them in our store. The meter has a probe on it that is inserted into the soil. The meter will tell you how much moisture there is in the soil. The meter sometimes comes with a chart that tells you the moisture requirements of common houseplants. This meter may make it easier on you if you are not sure of the moisture in the soil.

In the winter months, many houseplants are in a semi-dormant season. They require less moisture in the soil and many plants actually need the soil to dry out a lot more in-between the times you need to water. Your plants will need more humidity on their leaves to prevent the leaves from drying out. You can purchase a plant mister that will allow you to mist water onto the leaves of the plant. This will allow you to allow the soil to go dry, yet allow the leaves to remain moist. There are some plants that don’t like their leaves to be misted. African Violets are one of the plants that doesn’t like wet leaves.

The number one cause of death of houseplants is over-watering. Once you learn what your houseplants require for water, the better off your plants will be. Next week, how to water your outside plants.

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

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