One of the most popular ways to kill a common houseplant is through improper watering. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to learn the proper way to water any of the common houseplants.
Step 1: Learn about the plant. The first step to properly watering your houseplant is to learn what you can about the specific watering needs of your particular plant. Not all plants have the same watering needs, and there are ways to find out about your plant. If you purchase the plant, there should be a little plastic picket in the soil of the plant that gives a minimum description of what the plant likes as far as water is concerned. If you don’t purchase the plant but you get it from somebody, ask them what they know about the plant. If it is a starter from one of their plants, find out what the adult plant liked. If they purchased the plant for you ask if they know the name of the plant. Once you get the name of the plant, you can go online and find out the specific requirements of that plant.
Step 2: Make sure that you are using a good pot. A good pot is one that drains. If the pot does not have some sort of a hole in the bottom of it, you will need to use some sort of a sponge to absorb excess water. The reason for this is that in places with high humidity, the water will not evaporate quickly enough from the soil and the roots of the plant will begin to rot. Most pots that are intended for indoor plants do have holes in the bottom to let out the water.
Step 3: Make a watering schedule. Once you know what the plant needs and you have it in an appropriate pot, you can start watering the plant. You should make a watering schedule so that you don’t accidentally over or under water any of your plants. You will generally find that you need to water plants either once or twice a week. (Some succulents and cacti you might only water ever other week or when they start to droop). Write down your watering schedule, preferably on your watering jug, so that you don’t make mistakes. A watering schedule will likely have the two days a week that you water and the names of the plants that are watered on those days. This is helpful if you ever go on vacation and need to have someone else water your plants.
Step 4: Use good water. The recommended water for watering plants is room temperature. Using cold or hot water can damage the roots of plants; this is especially true for tropical plants. It is also possible to damage plants by using tap water if you have softened water. Soft water contains sodium that increases the salt levels in the soil until they are unhealthy for the plant. Fluoridated water can also cause damage to some plants, particularly if the potting soil contains perlite (and many of them do). If you have fluoridated water where you live, you can help your plants by allowing the water to sit over night.
Tips and warnings
If you follow these directions and still find that you are having problems with correctly watering your plants, you might want to purchase a little water meter. These devices go into the soil of the plant and let you know when the plant needs water. They don’t cost much, and they turn plant watering into a “no brainer”.