“How often should I water my houseplants?”
Although this is one of the most common questions I get asked over the course of a season, I don’t have a black and white answer.
Plants, much like humans, are unique organisms and therefore require individual care to thrive.
No two houseplants require the same care in order to survive, nor can any plant survive on water alone.
With that said, let’s take a closer look at exactly how plants survive, and what you can do increase your houseplants chances of an enjoyable existence.
The Magic of Plants
Plants use a combination of sunshine, water and oxygen to produce food, in a process known as photosynthesis.
As a result, plants are extremely versatile which is why there are literally thousands of plant types which are able to thrive both indoors and outdoors—as long as they have the three essential elements required to produce food.
As versatile as plants are, they are not overly resilient. As a matter of fact, one might even call plants “picky” because of their individual needs. If you’ve ever cared for more than one seemingly identical species of houseplant, you likely noticed a difference in the care they required to thrive. While one might do well next to a window, the other might dry up if it doesn’t receive more water than it’s brethren.
So, what’s the best way to ensure your houseplants enjoy a long and happy life?
Simple. Do you best to understand the following key elements, and always pay attention to the way your plants react to the care they receive.
Type of Houseplant
First things first. Be sure you understand they type of plant you’ve chosen for your home.
The quickest way to kill a new plant is to ignore its unique needs, and treat it like every other type of plant.
The easiest way to successfully grow healthy houseplants is to try to replicate the conditions they enjoy in their natural habitat.
Many common houseplants originate from the tropical and semi-tropical regions of the world and grow as understory plants, beneath the jungle or forest canopy. This means they don’t require much direct sunlight and are well-suited to household conditions.
Flowering plants require more water, since their flowers require additional water to be maintained by the rest of the foliage.
Cacti, on the other hand, don’t require nearly as much water as other types of plants. Their thick, fleshy leaves and stems actually store water. These succulent plants should be allowed to become quite dry between waterings, which makes them an ideal houseplant for people who like to travel. If you go away for as long as a month, give your cactus a good watering on your way out the door and it will probably be fine when you return!
Once again, the key to caring for houseplants is to get to know them. Learn about the specific type of plant you’d like to have in your home by asking at your garden centre, reading a book, or looking it up on the internet – once you have the correct name!
Woodstock, Ontario is at about 43 degrees north latitude. This means that we receive relatively low levels of light during the winter months. Lower light means slower plant growth, and a reduced need for water.
Many people like to place their houseplants close to a window. And many plants actually benefit from being right on the window sill since a pane of glass actually deflects around 80% of ambient light.
Direct sunlight will encourage more plant growth, so your plants will need more water to stay in optimal health.
You should also water more frequently during the bright summer months.
For most houseplants, watering once a week will do the trick.
We recommend using a long-necked watering can with a small spout so you can direct the water at the soil and avoid simply watering the leaves.
Avoid using cold water right from the tap.
Fill your watering can and let it sit overnight so the water reaches room temperature. This also eliminates some of the chlorine, which houseplants certainly don’t need.
Before you water, lift up the pot and notice the weight. Stick your finger into the dirt. Is the soil dry, or do you feel moisture?
Most plants do not like to be in standing water. Their roots need oxygen, so standig in water can literally drown your houseplant. That’s why drainage holes and drip dishes are so important. If your plant is sitting in another pot that doesn’t have drainage, it’s important to let the plant stop dripping before replacing it.
And remember, many plants prefer to dry-out slightly between irrigations.
Plants grow faster in warmer temperatures. As a result, they will need more frequent watering during warmer weather.
Most homes stay at a fairly consistent temperature all year long. Luckily (for us) the temperature which we find comfortable is similar to what a typical indoor plant requires also.
Ultimately, watering your houseplants is equal parts art and science. But if you fall in love with your plants and become aware of how they are doing, they should love you right back.
If you have any questions about watering your houseplants, the experts at Van Dyk’s Greenhouses are here to help. Pay us a visit, or send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org