Over watering ranks first in causes of houseplant demise because
it causes roots to rot. Most plants are tough so they can
recover from under watering with only the loss of a few leaves
-- unless you wait too long and pass the point of no return.
Watering schedules depend on the kind of houseplant, its size,
container, and environment. No two plants have the same water
requirements, so you'll need to know what your particular
Generally, it's best to water during morning hours. Most
flowering plants require more water than their non-flowering
counterparts. Since the needs of individual plants vary greatly,
you should research your houseplant's requirements.
Test dryness of soil by probing the top inch with your finger.
Tapping the side of the post also indicates the degree of
wetness. If the tap sounds hollow, the plant needs water. If it
sounds solid, wait a day or two to water. If a plant begins to
wilt and its soil looks dry and cracked, it needs water
For plants that require moderate watering, allow 1/2 to 1-inch
of soil to dry out before re-watering. If a plant needs light
watering, let two-thirds of the soil dry out. For plants that
need heavy watering, the surface should always be moist.
You can water in several ways. A quick and easy method is to
water from the surface with a watering can. Use a long-spout
water can and water at room temperature. When water escapes
through the bottom of a pot, the houseplant has had enough.
Pots also may be placed in a tray of water for about half an
hour. This allows the soil to draw water in from drainage holes.
Some plants, such as ferns, especially like this watering method.
During each watering, use enough water to completely soak the
soil in the pot rather than simply wetting the surface. (Keep in
mind when watering that hairy plants, such as African Violets,
can be damaged if their leaves get wet).
Tap water is fine for plants, but it's a good idea to let the
water stand in an open container overnight to allow it to come
to room temperature and allow chlorine to evaporate. If your tap
water has a high fluoride content, it is wise to use water from
another source -- spring, well, rain water, distilled water, or
water that has collected in a dehumidifier. You also can add
perlite or limestone to your plant's soil to neutralize
More steps to easily care for your house plants can be found at
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