Why you may be watering your houseplants all wrong

Soaking your Houseplants - How to Water Deep

“Water your plants once a week” is common advice that suggests that you need to stick to a regular schedule. But it doesn’t work like that. Why?

Soaking Your Houseplants

There are too many varying factors to consider for each individual plant in your home.

How much light does it receive? What kind of light does it receive: indirect or direct? How humid is your space? What is the quality of the soil? Is the soil old? What season is it? In winter, plants are dormant and don’t need as much water. In spring, they come out of dormancy and need much more attention.

Let’s say that you have two of the same type of plant but one of them lives in your bathroom window and the other in your living room window. They are both west-facing windows and receive the same amount of light per day. The humidity, however, in the bathroom is higher from daily hot showers than in the living room. Does the bathroom plant need to be watered the same amount as the one in the living room? Nope, because it gathers moisture from the air in the bathroom. So, if you were to stick with the hard and fast rule of “water once a week,” one of these plants may be getting too much water and yet, they’re the same type of plant.

See what I’m getting at here?

When it comes to watering, this is how I do it. Water them less but water them deeply. This method is not about how often you water, rather, how you water. Or in other words, it’s not the frequency of the watering but the quantity in that singular watering session.

How to deeply water your plants:

  • With a watering can, slowly water every nook and cranny on the surface of the soil
  • Soak every inch of the surface
  • Pour in enough water (again, slowly!) so that you can see or hear it draining through and into the sink
  • Wait a couple of minutes to let the first watering soak all the way through
  • Repeat the first step, exactly the same way
  • Repeat one or two more times

The reason that you water – wait – water, instead of watering just once, is to eliminate air pockets and allow the water to penetrate to every bit of soil in that container.

This method of watering only works when the container you are using has a drainage hole. It also works best with small to medium sized plants that are easy to transport into the kitchen sink, bathtub, shower or the alike. The application of this method with large plants looks a little bit different but is the same method. With large plants that are too heavy or awkward to move that have a drainage hole and a saucer underneath, simply apply the same method but be ready with a syringe or baster to suck the water out of the saucer.

If you usually water using the “1⁄2 cup of water, once a week,” or even the “ice cube method,” it may take some time getting comfortable with this new way of watering. As long as there is a drainage hole at the bottom of the container that the water will be able to escape from, the chances of your plant sitting in water and developing root rot is extremely minimal.

By giving your plants a long and deep watering, you won’t have to water as frequently and your fully hydrated plants – soaked all the way through and to the bottom – will thank you!

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