Knowing when to water your plants is one of the trickiest parts of plant care. When caring for plants, it’s easy to make mistakes like over- or under-watering.
One of the most essential aspects of plant care is watering them properly. How often and when a plant requires watering is a question that most people ask.
Both forgetful under-waterers and over-enthusiastic over-waterers make mistakes when caring for their plants.
Signs to look for to know when to water your plants
- Look for leaf drops and dry leaves
The leaves on your plant could fall off if you aren’t giving it enough water or giving it water too infrequently.
You will need to examine the amount and pattern of leaf drops to decide if this is unusual for your plant. When plants are healthy, they naturally shed some of their older leaves to make room for new ones.
When a plant doesn’t get sufficient water, its leaves dry out and fall off prematurely, harming its health and appearance. Younger leaves are more susceptible to wilting and falling off an underwatered plant.
Verify that the soil is quite dry to rule out the possibility that you are misinterpreting the situation. Overwatering can also cause leaf drops in some plants. Wet soil is a sign of overwatering, which can cause root rot.
- Look at the soil’s surface.
This method is useful for plants that need to be kept moist at all times, such as Boston ferns and umbrella palms, although it provides just a general estimate of plant dryness.
Overwatering is inevitable if you water only when the surface is dry. Therefore, this method is not helpful for drought tolerant plants such as ficus, succulents and cacti. To determine if these plants require watering, you’ll need to look deeper.
- Lift your pots to determine their weight
You can also use the weight of the pots as a gauge as to whether or not the plants require watering. This is a standard procedure for watering plants in nurseries.
Since water contributes to a plant’s overall density, a dry plant will weigh less than normal. If you have a lot of indoor plants in containers, this is a quick and easy solution. To determine the weight of larger containers, try tipping them over.
The more you practice this method, the better you’ll get at it. If you pick up your potted plants on a regular basis, you’ll be able to see when each one requires watering.
When you’re done watering, lift the container to see how much it weighs at its heaviest. This allows for more accurate weight comparisons after a short period of time. If you see a significant reduction in weight, it likely needs watering.
- Pay attention to your plants
The best advice for general plant care is to give your plants the attention they deserve on a regular basis.
Neglect, in the form of improper watering techniques, is one of the primary causes of plant death. Due to our hectic schedules, it is easy to neglect our plants.
If you check on your plants every day or two, you’ll notice changes, such as wilting leaves, much sooner.
Being alert to such shifts is far more beneficial than sticking to a rigid watering schedule. This is because it allows you to take preventative action if your plant begins to dry out.
- Wilting and drooping leaves
If the leaves of an indoor plant do not get enough water, the plant will eventually wilt. They may wilt and collapse under their own apparent weight.
There are stomata, or tiny pores, on the leaves of your houseplant. The plant uses these openings to take in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide and water vapor.
When water is scarce, plants will close their stomata in an effort to prevent the loss of moisture through transpiration.
Watering your indoor plant too late may cause the leaves to wilt, but this does not necessarily spell doom for the plant.
If you notice the issue early on, you can fix it by giving the plant some water. The leaves shouldn’t take long to recover and regain their full appearance.
When caring for your indoor plant, it is crucial that you monitor any indications of distress, like drooping leaves and wilting. Do not jump to the conclusion that the plant needs watering.
Overwatering, insect infestation or disease, overfeeding (excessive fertilizer), root rot, and overexposure to direct sunlight are all potential causes of a plant’s wilting and drooping; therefore, more study may be necessary.
- Soil stick
Soil moisture can be checked without getting your hands dirty by using a cheap, unpolished wooden chopstick.
The dirt will color the stick and indicate that it is still wet. If the stick surfaces are dry without any wet soil sticking to them, it is likely time to water.
Sharpening the end of a wooden rod to a point makes it useful as a substitute for a pencil or chopsticks. You can insert the stick further into the pot than if you used your fingers.
- Look for discolored, brown, or yellow leaves
Your houseplant’s leaves turning a different color, especially brown or yellow, may indicate that it is not getting enough water. An indoor plant that needs water will sometimes develop brown or yellow leaves.
The leaf’s outer margins may get dry or “crispy” if you don’t notice immediately. If you don’t keep your houseplant’s general well-being in mind on a daily basis, you can overlook the warning signals that anything is amiss.
Keep in mind that the appearance of dry, brown, or yellow leaves does not always indicate a plant’s need for water. It may be a sign that the plant is suffering from a disease, is overexposed to the sun or is being overwatered.
How to test moisture in soil at home
The use of a soil moisture meter is highly recommended. It eliminates the need for you to guess when to water your houseplants.
The most common range for moisture meter readings is between 1 and 10. A 1 typically denotes very dry, and a 10 denotes very wet.
Most also have color meters to assist you in knowing whether or not your indoor plants need watering.
Checking the soil moisture with a soil moisture meter for indoor plants:
- The device can be taken out of the ground, and the results can be read after only a couple of minutes. The outcome must be interpreted in light of the plant’s specific water requirements.
- Soil moisture is measured by inserting a probe into the ground and analyzing the results. Press the probe into the soil without damaging the plant’s roots to obtain a soil moisture reading. Do not bury it completely; just about three-quarters of the way will do.
- Choosing a moisture meter is the first order of business. There are a variety of affordable soil moisture and pH meters out there.
How to check soil moisture using your fingers
Slice perpendicularly into the ground and dig until you reach a depth of two feet. You can grab the soil slice you just formed with your hands if you make a second slice approximately an inch in front of the first.
Place the soil sample on a white piece of fabric or sheet of paper and look for dark spots. The soil is dry if a thin slice is translucent, while wet soil will be black. The depth to which the wet layer extends can be determined using a ruler.
You can also use your hands to check the soil’s quality. Squeeze a small sample of soil to determine its moisture content. When you squeeze a damp soil sample, the particles stay together.
If, however, the soil crumbles or stays in a loose clump as you squeeze it, more water is required. Put down the dirt and wipe your hands. The earth is quite dry if your palm comes out of it clean.
Is it time for watering your plants
Because different plants have varied tolerances for damp soil, be sure to read up on the water requirements of your new plant before you bring it home.
In addition to more precise methods like picking up pots to measure their weight and sticking your finger in the soil, you may know if your plant needs watering by evaluating the dryness of the soil surface.
A moisture sensor can also be used for precise and speedy soil moisture analysis. It only takes a few seconds a day to check in on your plants and ensure they get the light and water they need to thrive.