Well, you see, it depends....and I know that's not what you want to hear from me. You want me to tell you exactly when, like...."water on this day, and then on that day...." I get it, I truly do. I unfortunately can't give you a prescribed day and time to water your plants but let me explain why and hopefully make plant watering a little simpler, so that you can feel confident about caring for your own collection.
There are a number of things that will dictate when a plant should be watered, and these are as follows:
- The type of plant
- The amount of light in the room it sits in
- The season/temperature of the room
Let's take a closer look at these 3 main factors that dictate the watering needs of our plants.
Type of plant
Not all plants like the same conditions. To explain this simply, let's talk about two extremes - Ferns and Cacti. Ferns come from rainforests where the conditions are damp and humid. They therefore prefer their soil to remain consistently moist and don't like to dry out too much. Why? Because that's their "natural" habitat and their natural habitat is where plants grow and thrive. Cacti on the other hand, has a natural habitat that is quite different. These naturally grow in deserts where it's hot and dry. You won't find cacti growing in a rainforest, as the conditions are not ideal for this plant and therefore, not where it will thrive.
Does that help to explain this factor? So how can you utilise this point when looking after your own plants? It's simple really, understand where their natural origin is and try to replicate those conditions as much as possible. Google is your friend here guys, just search "X (plant name) place of origin" or "X (plant name) natural habitat." Learn the natural habitat/place of origin for your plant and it tells you so much! You won't always be able to replicate the exact same conditions, but at least you'll know what it likes and what conditions help it to thrive. Once you know that, you're halfway there!
Determine the following during your research:
- Do they like consistently moist soil, or do they like to nearly completely dry out in between watering? E.g. do they come from a place where droughts are common, or from a place that gets a lot of rain?
- What is the temperature range for the plants origin? Is it use to extreme temperatures, or consistent temperatures?
I'll explain this point with a couple of examples, because this is probably the most important factor when it comes to a plants watering needs.
Peperomia plants: I know that these plants hold a lot of water in their leaves and that they don't like wet feet. Whilst they like a good drink, they don't need their next drink until the soil is nearly completely dry. In fact, due to their delicate root structure, if I was to keep their soil consistently moist, I am increasing the risk of root rot. So, I would be using my finger to dig down a little to see if it's just the top soil that's dry, or whether it's dried out further down and therefore ready for another drink.
Philodendron plants: Unlike Peperomia plants, these guys prefer consistently moist soil. So, I would water these, more than I would water my Peperomia's. I would be checking the soil to see how wet it is and making sure it wasn't soggy, but consistently wet. So, I'd want the soil to dry out a little in between watering, but not to the point where it's nearly dry (at least the top few inches of the pot), like that of my Peperomias.
The brighter the room, the more frequent you'll need to water. Let me explain. If you had two of the same type of plant and you had one in a really bright room that gets lots of natural light, maybe not direct sunlight (as most plants don't tend to like this on their leaves), but lots of indirect bright light. And then you had the exact same plant in another room, that only got say, morning light, you would need to water them differently. Which plant would need water more frequently? You guessed it! The plant in the brighter room. Lighting is a factor when it comes to your plants watering needs and the general rule here, is that the brighter your room, the more frequent you will need to water your plants. Got it? Good! Let's take a look at the last factor...
It probably goes without saying, that a plant sitting in a warm room, will require more water than a plant in a cooler room. So, temperature definitely plays a factor when it comes to a plants watering needs. But so too, does the season. You see, plants don't require as much water when it's not the "growing" season. "Growing season?" I hear you ask, "what's that?" Spring through until Autumn is generally the "growing season" and when plants are their most active. So much like us, when they are more active, they require more water. This is also the time that it is likely to be warmer (on the whole) in our homes. We may have winter heating on, but usually it's not 24/7, so there are periods where it is naturally cooler. So, reduce watering in the winter and water your plants less frequently.
Let me simplify the 3 factors above for you, before I wrap up! This is what I want you to take away:
✔ Research/understand what your plant type likes. Does it prefer consistently moist soil, or does it like to nearly dry out in between watering? What's it's "ideal" water requirements before any other factor comes into play? What does it like?
✔ Once a week, go around and check your plants and take into consideration what they like. When I say "check your plants" I mean, dig your finger into their soil. Does soil stick to your finger? If so, the soil is moist. If not, the soil is dry. But make sure you don't just touch the surface, dig down a little as the top layer will always dry first. It's further down that really tells you how moist the soil is from your last watering.
✔ If you have a plant that is thriving that you've had for a while, don't keep the same watering schedule now that we have entered the cooler months. Reduce your watering a little - not dramatically, just a little. Also check that your plant isn't too close to new heating sources - by a log burner or under a heat pump that you may not have had on during the warmer months. Move your plant if necessary. Equally, if it's been sitting on a warm windowsill thriving, you may also want to move it as the temperature drops, as the conditions will be quite different from summer to winter. It aint gonna like a frosty window, let me tell you.
✔ Last but not least, don't go completely altering what you've been doing, if your plant is thriving! If say you've had your plant for a long time and you've always watered on a Saturday, then you've got lucky and found a rhythm that works for you and the plant - or it's got use to your schedule. Keep doing what you're doing because it's been happy, right? Don't fix something that aint broken. Just reduce how much you give it in winter and keep an eye on the soil moisture. E.g. don't give a plant more water when the soil is already moist. You're just increasing the likelihood of root rot, which no plant parent wants!
So, can you now see why I can't give you a prescribed frequency on when you should water your plants and why I said, "it depends?" But I do hope that this has helped you to understand what your plants need and what you need to look out for. If you're still confused, message me! Let's have a chat and work out a plan together. My number one goal is to help make plant care easy. I mean, they're there to be enjoyed and not to stress you out, so let's chat if you're feeling overwhelmed. I can help and I'm only a message away. Why do I care? Because I've been there. Read my story here. If you'd like plant care advice like this, straight to your inbox, you can sign up here. It will also give you 10% off your first order.
Until next time my planty friends! Would love to hear if this has helped you and share with your other planty friends if it has, as sharing is caring.