Watering – Indoor Plants

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Watering – Indoor Plants.

Although watering indoor plants seems easy enough, it is responsible for killing more plants than anything else. If you’ve enjoyed indoor houseplants for any length of time, you’ve probably lost a plant or two. Insufficient and excessive watering are among many reasons a plant might fail despite what seem like pampered conditions. In some cases, pampering may be precisely the problem. Water serves as an important transport medium, allowing nutrients to travel from soil to plant cell. But too much water in the soil layer forces air from the root zone, reducing the plant’s oxygen supply. Contrary to popular belief, over-watering house plants is more often the cause for a plant's problems than under-watering. Since roots cannot absorb more water than the plant needs, the excess water will take the place of oxygen in the soil. Plants need oxygen just like we do. Soggy soil suffocates the roots and leads to rot.

Unfortunately, there is no simple rule dictating how often houseplants should be watered. Some plants, adapted to bog or swamp life, enjoy soaking wet conditions. Other plants--the succulent family, for example--have adapted to long periods of dryness between heavy watering. Soil medium and pot type influence how efficiently a container holds moisture.

Most house plants like their soil kept evenly moist, that is, neither soaking wet nor bone dry. A few prefer that their soil dry out entirely between waterings. No matter what the watering needs of a given plant may be, always water thoroughly, then wait until the plant needs more water before starting again. You can either use tepid water straight from the tap or let water stand overnight. In areas where water is very hard or where water is artificially softened, rainwater is often the best choice for watering your house plants.

When do plants need water? Plants will often tell you they need water by dramatically collapsing, but it is best not to wait that long, since most plants never recover from severe wilting. There are various ways of telling if a house plant needs water. Some people go by soil color: The mix changes from dark brown to pale beige as it dries out. This is not always an adequate factor, especially for house plants in large pots. The soil at the top of the pot can often be quite dry, while that in the middle is still moist. For that reason, many people prefer sticking a forefinger into the mix. If it feels dry to the touch one inch down, it is time to water. There are moisture meters available that can also test for water needs. Other people prefer to lift the pot. When it approaches dryness, a pot will weigh considerably less. Choose whichever method best suits your needs and stick with it.

Watering Basics for Indoor or House Plants:

Most people prefer to water from above. In that case, water thoroughly until excess moisture runs out of the bottom of the pot. If the plant has dried out entirely, to the point of wilting, this method may not be sufficient, since dry soil often repels water. In that case, set the pot in water until it soaks up all it can hold.

Another way to water indoor plants is from below. Use your thumb or finger to stick into the top layer of the potting soil. Try to push your finger about 1-2" into the dirt. If you fill moist soil, don't water the plant. However, if the soil is dry, pour water into the saucer...not the top of the container. Pour it into the saucer until water reaches the top. Over the course of the next hour or so, the plant's roots will draw up the water from the tray. Then, after the initial hour, pour enough water into the tray to get it half full. Again, over the course of the next hour or so, the plant's roots will draw up the water into the soil as it needs it. Watch it for the next day or so, and do the old "stick your thumb in the soil trick" again, repeating the same watering procedure.

Water is vital to the life of a plant. It transports materials within the plant and its very pressure keeps a plant erect. Incorrect watering leads to a poor root system, and this weakens a plant. It is important to water indoor plants correctly.

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