Spring is an enticing time for people to bring fresh greenery into their homes. Perhaps it is the desire to reconnect with nature after the winter months, but according to Garden Center Magazine, 41 percent of independent garden centers report their largest sales of houseplants during the season.
With the increase in sales comes an increase of questions about indoor plant care, including the most vital and often most confusing – “when should I be watering my plants?”
This question actually boils down to a few very key scientific points pertaining to photosynthesis, or the process in which plants use light to convert water, carbon dioxide and nutrients in the soil into energy for growth. Without water, plants cannot survive and it makes it very difficult for plants to absorb valuable nutrients in the soil.
To achieve the right amount of moisture for your indoor plants, a moisture meter can be used to keep track of your soil hydration, but it isn’t necessary to own one. Getting hands on is actually a great basic tool for plant care. One of the easiest ways to check to see if your plants have enough water is to poke a finger into the soil a couple of inches. Typically, if the soil is dry, it’s time to water.
Other signs of an under-watered plant include:
- Visually dry soil (moist soil is typically darker)
- Stunted growth
- Leaf curling
- Wilting leaves
- Browning leaf tips
- Leaves that feel thin and papery
- Leaves falling from the plant
Maintaining Proper Water Levels
When watering houseplants, it is important to make sure they get enough water to flush out salts and minerals accumulating in the soil that can lead to root injury, but you also want to ensure that the plant is not sitting in so much water as to cause root rot.
A plant’s roots are actually dynamic and smart – when soil dries out, roots will search for moisture which helps them to grow. When they’re surrounded by water and don’t need to search for moisture, bacteria growth and decay set in.
It can be a tricky balance, but we recommend these basic tips to maintain properly watered plants in your office or household:
- Make sure to place your watering vessel near the soil to avoid watering surrounding foliage and maximize water absorption.
- Use room temperature water to avoid shocking the roots of the plant, which can lead to root disease or death.
- Use enough water so that some comes out the drain hole at the bottom of the pot to ensure the roots are able to absorb the water and that excess salts are flushed from them.
- If you use a saucer with your pot, empty it after about 30 minutes in order to prevent root rot.
Most of us are inclined to love our plants to death – meaning, we tend to overwater them in an attempt to make sure they have the nutrients they need. If you notice any of these signs, it can be an indicator that you may be overwatering your plants:
- If your soil remains moist but your leaves wilt, your plant may be getting too much water.
- Browning edges or spots. While browning tips can indicate dehydration, browning on other parts of the leaf can show cell bursting from oversaturation.
- Damp soil attracts bugs, so if you notice pests lingering around one or multiple plants, the soil could be too wet for too long.
Because we often run our own lives on a schedule, it might feel natural to create a watering schedule for your plants, as well. But the watering needs are different for every plant and can even change based on the type of soil, environment and time of year. Watering them on a set schedule can often lead to an imbalance in moisture levels. We recommend creating a weekly schedule for checking your plants to determine their needs, and then water accordingly.
Additionally, each variety of plant has its own specific soil and watering needs. One of the most important steps to creating a connection to nature in your home is to do your research. Understand the potting, soil and watering needs of the plants you want to incorporate can ensure successful growth and longevity.
If you are interested in implementing nature in your space using biophilic design but you don’t know where to start, a horticulture specialist at Plant Solutions can help you determine what plants will work the best to meet your needs and fit with the space around you. We can design, install, and maintain interior landscaping in homes and offices to promote health and well-being.
Plant Solutions has worked with clients across the Valley for more than 40 years. It is our mission to recreate the natural world in built spaces by using vibrant MossWallArt™, living walls, seasonal décor design and more. Learn more about our indoor plant solutions at plantsolutions.com/services/horticultural-services.