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Best Way to Water Your Houseplants

Updated on May 12, 2015

You don’t need to spend a lot of time and money to have your household plants thrive. Here is a compilation of many of the secrets and methods I have discovered on my own and been taught by various sources:


Water is the basis of all living things. Even though we are ourselves 90% water, we can still drown. So it is with plants. There are certain methods to watering that can be the difference between a happy plant and a dead one. Overwatering is one of the most common culprits of planticide. Too much of a good thing is an accurate assessment. If your plant doesn’t outright drown then overwatering can also cause fungus to grow on roots and pots which will kill the plant, ruin the soil, and could have many unwanted health effects on you as well.

What is the most effective method for straight-up watering?

1. Water your plants a lot once a week (on the soil, not the plant). This is closer to most plants natural programming as it tends not to rain a little every day in nature, but a 3-5 times a month when nature is at its best. So creating a more natural watering schedule will benefit your little vegetable friend. Watering a little every day tends to cause the roots to be weaker because they do not have work to get their drink. This will of course make the rest of the plant weaker and less full. Also, if the plant suddenly does have to work for its drink it will be ill-equipped to do so. So completely saturate the soil once a week.

2. Morning watering is best. When you wake up, go to your leafy companions and watch them awake—stretching their little stems and opening their sleepy petals. Greet them with a refreshing drink of water and they will be indebted to your kindness. Plants absorb water best in the morning, it gets them prepared to grow and thrive throughout the rest of the day. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day!

3. Water the soil, mist the plant. Now I’m making a distinction between "watering" and "misting" here. "Watering" is the process of adding H2O to the soil, and consequentially the roots, of a plant which should be done about once a week. "Misting" is the process of using a spray bottle of water to lightly cover the exposed part of the plant; that is to say the stem, petals, and leaves. This should be done sparingly, meaning no more often than once a day. It is done mostly to combat the dryness of some households, especially during the winter months. Although I must add: you should not mist plants that have a "fuzzy" texture to any of their surfaces. The purposes of this "fuzz" is hindered by misting. Also, you don’t need to mist cacti because they prefer to drink sand. Just kidding about the sand. But still, do not mist them.

4. Use warm water. Most plants and flowers like their water to be room temperature which is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Nice tepid water tends to stimulate a plants natural processes as it is what they have learned to appreciate after millions of years of warm water appreciation classes. Warm water lets them know that it is a good time to thrive. Hot water is very bad as it will damage your green darlings. Cold water is not as dangerous as hot water but it is generally frowned upon in the planter’s community since it will not be accepted readily by a plants roots. If it is cold enough, it may do the same damage as a frost which tells the plant winter is coming and to shut it down.

5. If your plants don’t seem to be doing as well as you’d hoped try this tip as it is simple and has saved many a lot of money and heartache. Usually the water that is pumped in your house from a municipal source have certain additives that make it cleaner and taste better. It is different everywhere what things are added, how much is added, and what is filtered out. This makes tap water a bit unreliable in its effects. One of the most common additives to tap water is chlorine. Too much chlorine can weaken or even kill plants. A good way to remedy the presence of these and other like chemicals is to let the water sit in open watering cans overnight. Most of the chemicals added will evaporate much faster than the water and so you will have much purer water the next morning. An added bonus is that the water will always be room temperature when you use it which we know plants think is just tops.

6. Some people use ice cubes to water hanging plants. They do this because it is easier to water them and they get less drippage. The only problem with this is that plants do not like it. Cold water makes plants think that winter is on its way and they tend to shut down or slow many of their processes. This results in plants that won’t bloom, won’t grow, and will become weaker. You must weigh the pros and cons of this method yourself.

For tips and secrets about how to provide your plants with the best food and nutrients using what is already in your home please read my article: "Plant Food already in your Home".


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