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When to water, and not water, your houseplants

There are a few key essentials when it comes to having happy, healthy houseplants in your home, and knowing when to water, and when not to water, is one of the most important.

Most houseplants end up in the big compost heap in the sky because of over watering, we feel like it’s the only way to show our houseplants we love them, and we end up killing them with kindness. But there is another way. A few key pointers will help you work out if it is, or isn’t time to water your houseplants. We’ll also have a look at another way you can show your houseplants you love them and a Hilda Hack to pretty much guarantee you won’t ever overwater again (what!?), I know, keep reading…

When to water your houseplants - With most houseplants, it’s better to err on the under watering side of things, rather than overwatering, as overwatering is the main reason houseplants don’t make it. The problem with overwatering our houseplants is it causes the roots to rot. If you imagine your beautiful houseplant hanging out in its natural habitat, say a jungly forest floor in Thailand, her roots will be growing down into the earth, into unlimited earth pretty much. So whenever it rains the water will soak through, past the roots and keep going. She won’t be sat in a limited pot of soil where the water can’t escape and the soil is soggy all the time. 

It’s like when you stay in the bath for too long and your fingers go wrinkly, which kind of feels like a signal that it’s time to get out of the bath! Imagine your plants roots are sat in water too long, but instead of going wrinkly they begin to rot and are no longer able to do their rooty job for the plant. This is why overwatering is so dangerous. A good way to avoid overwatering is to wait until the top inch or so of soil has dried out. It is also imperative to make sure your houseplant has good drainage…

Houseplants without drainage holes are much, much harder to look after. Not only that, it goes against their natural way of growing. Think back to the example of the bath and your wrinkly fingers. If your houseplants doesn’t have drainage holes you're basically keeping it in the bath way past the first warning signs of wrinkles! The best way to achieve successful drainage is to plant your houseplants in the nursery pots they come in, and then place this inside a decorative cache pot. This gives you ultimate flexibility in terms of placement around your home, how and when you water. So with that, let’s talk about How to actually water your houseplants. 

How to water your houseplants - My favourite way to water my houseplants is with bottom watering. This means sitting them in basin/sink/bowl of water, with the level up to about half way, so they can drink up as much water as they want. Keep an eye on how much they’ve drunk, and when the top of the soil becomes damp, you know they’re fully hydrated. Take the plant out of the water and let it drain until it is no longer dripping, before placing it back in its stylish pot and back in its spot.

This method is also great when you’re feeding plants, as you can dilute the plant food in the water and let the plants drink it up, so none of that helpful plant food is wasted as it would be if you poured from the top! If the top of your soil is looking a bit white or unattractive, you can always add in a top down watering session, using a watering can to carefully soak the soil from the top, and letting it drain. This will help to clear the white deposits on the top of the soil. It’s good to mix it up, but the best method is the one that suits you and your plant right now and means you water your plant when it needs it and not before!

When to water again? Let’s talk about watering mistakes to watch out for. You’ve had a good bottom watering session, your plant has drunk its fill, drained, and is back happily in it's spot. A few days pass by, maybe a week and you think “Hmm it’s probably time to water again”, but is it? The best thing you can do now is to put the watering can down, and check the soil moisture levels first! Check the moisture level on the top of the soil, a good rule of thumb is to wait until the top 1-2 inch of soil has dried out before watering again.

However, if the bottom of the soil in your pot is still wet or damp then it could lead to your plants roots rotting, and that’s not good for your planty friend! Read on to find the best way of checking if it really is time to water your houseplant…

Hilda Hack. Time for another Hilda Hack. There’s a reason the moisture meter is in the store and why it’s been so popular! Just imagine, it's a Saturday, you’ve got a coffee, you think ‘oh this will be a nice time to potter about and water my plants’, but you forgot you watered them all thoroughly last weekend, and it hasn’t been a warm or sunny week. Your plants look on in horror as you come at them with a watering can and your best intentions. They don’t need to be watered again and the soil that they’re sat in is already damp, but how are you supposed to know? The top looks dry! Enter, stage left, the Moisture Meter, your new superhero tool that will show how your plants soil is actually doing. Take the moisture meter, and your coffee, around all your plants, stick the probe into the soil and see how they’re doing. Use the bamboo cloth it comes with to wipe off any soil on the probe. Afterwards, if your plants soil is dry, feel free to water with love and abandon! If it’s anywhere from moist to wet, put the watering can down and move on quietly by.

If it’s not time to water, but you want to show your houseplants some love, take the cloth that comes with the moisture meter and give the leaves a gentle wipe to remove any dust. This is actually super important to the health of your plants, imagine if your skin was dusty! It wouldn’t feel very good. Your plants are the same, don’t leave them to gather dust. Wipe their leaves, help them breathe and take a deep breath yourself.

For happy and healthy houseplants...

The main way to successfully water your houseplants is to check if they actually need watering before you get the watering can out! You might know your plants really well, and be able to tell just by looking at the top of the soil, feeling the weight of the plant and the pot (the lighter it is the drier the soil), but if not, get yourself one of these bad boys and transform your plant game, never overwatering your houseplants again!


Happy watering,


How to water your houseplants