Have you ever received a houseplant as a gift and you did not know how to take care of it? Did you water it every other day or every week on Tuesday just because? There is a right way and a wrong way to water houseplants.
The amount of water a plant requires depends on both plant characteristics and environmental conditions in the home. Larger plants, and plants with larger leaves, will have a greater demand for water and should be checked more often than small plants, or plants with smaller, finer leaves. Other factors to consider include the location of the plant in the home as it relates to light intensity, the relative humidity level (high relative humidity tends to reduce a plant’s need for water), stage of development of the plant (i.e. rapid growth or resting/dormancy stage), size and type of container, and the characteristics of the potting mix. It is important that no matter how often the plant is watered, room-temperature water should be used to avoid shock to the root system. If water is too cold it can damage the leaves.
If leaf cover is dense and watering the potting mix is difficult, place the container in a pan of room temperature water for approximately 30 minutes while the potting mix absorbs water through the container’s drainage holes. This method works well for plant species such as cyclamen whose leaves or crown can become damaged if they get wet.
Check plants frequently to ensure that the potting mix is kept moist but avoid keeping it too wet or not wet enough. A popular method for determining if a plant needs to be watered is to stick a finger into the media up to the first knuckle and feel whether it is wet below the surface. Water the plant if the potting mix feels dry, and then wait to water again until the media feels slightly moist, but not too dry. For a more accurate test, a battery operated moisture meter can be purchased and used to determine when plants should be watered.