Here are some golden rules for watering your plants. Keep these on hand when watering:
- Always water after repotting.
- Plants in large pots dry out more slowly than plants in smaller pots.
- Plants in bright daylight dry out more quickly than plants in low light.
- Humid air keeps soil moist for longer than dry air.
What Does Water Do?
Water provides structural support, cools your plant down, and moves minerals to all the right places.
Plant cells are like water balloons. When they are filled, they become stiff and your plant stands upright. When there is a lack of water, the cells deflate and the plant looks wilted — a clear sign your plant needs more water. Plants produce cellulose that help keep its shape, but it’s water pressure (water flowing through your plant) that helps plants gain and retain their shape better than cellulose alone.
When you water your plant, an invisible process called transpiration takes place where the sun evaporates water from the leaves through stomatal pores, causing water loss in the leaf. That’s great, because water will go where it’s needed most. Ideally, the water is pulled up from the roots, but if roots are dry, water is taken from the leaves themselves, which can result in a deflated plant — an indication your plant is thirsty.
Keep in mind your soil is like a sponge. Most houseplants like a porous soil, allowing room for water and air pockets. If your soil is moist to begin with, hold off on watering for now. If you notice water pours out through the drainage holes immediately, your soil is actually bone dry and the soil is repelling water, rather than soaking it in. Avoid pouring water onto bone dry soil. Water will only move through and around the edges of your planter and will not be absorbed by the roots. Your plant should absorb water slowly through its roots so, before you water again, you’ll want to check how dry the soil is. Use your fingers and feel if the soil is wet at least 2 inches below the surface. If so, you can add water. If your soil is wet at the surface, you can hold off.