The Dos and Don’ts of Watering Plants

How, when and where you water your garden and houseplants can have a major impact on how green and blooming they are Read on to learn the best ways to ensure success.

The Dos and Don'ts of Watering Plants

Gardening pro or not, you probably already know that all plants need water to thrive—basics that go back to middle school introductory science class, after all. What you may not know is that improper watering techniques put plants at risk for disease and even death. Whether you want to grow beautiful outdoor perennials or just want to take good care of your new houseplants, follow these best and worst practices for watering plants and you’ll end up with healthy, happy specimens.

Water your outdoor plants

Rehydrate your plants in the morning.

Top Tips for Watering Plants

This The most effective time to water outdoor flowers and vegetables is in the early morning, when the soil is cool and the water is most likely to penetrate the plant’s roots before it evaporates. Watering the plants in the morning will ensure they store enough water under the soil to withstand the heat of hot summer days.

Don’t water too often — or not enough.

Especially in hot weather, it can be tempting to water — and often — to keep the soil moist. However, shallow watering is not conducive to deep root development. Instead, choose a less frequent watering routine that saturates the soil thoroughly. This method encourages the plant’s roots to absorb residual moisture deeply, even if the soil surface appears dry. A standard rule of thumb is to water your flowers and vegetables the equivalent of 1 inch of water per week (double the amount during peak summer).

DO waters plants at the soil level.

Channeling water to the roots of plants sends water to where it is needed: the roots. Consider Winding a Soaker Hose In flower or vegetable beds , soak the soil slowly and deeply to ensure healthy growth.

Do not use broadcast sprinklers.

In addition to soaking the foliage of plants and increasing the risk of fungal disease, broadcast lawn sprinklers are ineffective. On hot or windy days, most of the water sprayed by this sprinkler evaporates before it reaches the plants. What’s more, sprinklers can wet the plant’s leaves, and wet leaves can make the plant prone to mold and disease.

Water outdoor container plants at least once a day.

in the soil container garden The soil in the flower bed. The smaller the container, the more often you will need to water the plants inside. Soak the potting soil in the morning. If the mercury column of the thermometer rises above 90, soak it again in the afternoon. Or, outfit pots with an automatic plant waterer, which is basically a hollow spike that attaches to a water bottle or light bulb. When the spikes are inserted into the pot, water slowly seeps into the soil, providing the plant with a steady supply of moisture.

The Dos and Don'ts of Watering Plants Watering Trees

Don’t forget that trees need water too.

Newly planted trees and shrubs should be thoroughly soaked with water 2 to 3 times a week for the first month. After that, water weekly for the first growing season. Mature trees and shrubs that are at least two years old only need to be watered every two weeks during the growing season with little rain.

Be sure to use a stick to water potted plants.

waterable wand extends your arms, allowing you to hang overhead plants and ground level pots without having to reach or bend over. You’ll be sure to avoid some backaches—and you’ll save water by only watering the base of your plants with what you need.

Do not water container plants with jet nozzles.

Pressurized nozzles are great for washing driveways and sidewalks, but the powerful spray they deliver can damage young leaves and flowers. It also disturbs the soil around the roots of container plants. If you don’t have a watering wand, simply remove the nozzle from the garden hose, hook the hose into a hanging pot or container and let the water flow out slowly.

To check the moisture content of the soil.

Garden plants suffer when the soil dries out. On the other hand, they don’t like “wet feet,” which means that if their roots are submerged in water and don’t get enough oxygen, they’re also affected. On hot, windy days, the soil surface may appear dry while the ground below remains damp, so a quick check is necessary to make sure you’re not overwatering. Keep a dowel , stick it a few inches into the garden soil, then pull it out and check. Wet soil will stick to the dowel, but if it comes out clean, the soil is dry and it’s time to water.

Don’t rely on rainwater.

Most garden plants, flowers, and shrubs will thrive when they receive at least 1 inch of water per week, although they may need more during hot, dry periods. Using a rain gauge can help you monitor your weekly rainfall. If the meter indicates that your rainfall is less than 1 inch, supplement it with watering.

The Dos and Don'ts of Watering Plants Watering Indoor Plants

Watering Houseplants

Do use a watering can for houseplants.

Trying to water leafy houseplants with a water glass or carafe will only spill the water over the rim and onto your desk or windowsill. Not only wateringthe can prevent spills, but it also allows you to spray water directly to the base of the plants even if you’re watering them that are hanging overhead.

Do not water houseplants with treated softened water.

Home water softeners add sodium to the tap water, which over time can negatively affect the mineral makeup of the soil for houseplants. Depending on your plumbing, your water softener may only be connected to the hot water faucet or to all the faucets in your home, both hot and cold. If it’s the latter (or you’re not sure), stick to a watering can filled at the outdoor spigot to minimize the amount of sodium you introduce into the soil.

The Dos and Don'ts of Watering Plants Choose the Right Soil

Please choose suitable soil.

Indoor plants will benefit from indoor potting mix This is made for the specific type of plant being grown. Avoid filling houseplant pots with soil brought in from the outdoor garden, as it may contain pathogens, insects and fungi. Keep plant diseases and gnats where they belong! Another great option for houseplants is to use a soilless houseplant mix that contains peat moss and perlite or vermiculite. These mixes don’t compact, so roots can go deep, and they often come with a fertilizer that promotes plant growth.

Do not use a potting mix that is too water-retaining.

Most houseplants require a well-drained potting mix that won’t stay wet for hours after watering. When shopping for potting soil for houseplants, look for ones that contain coir, vermiculite, or perlite. All three of these ingredients are used in potting mixes to help aerate the soil and promote good drainage. For best results, use with no more than 1 part peat moss.

Be sure to invest in a soil moisture meter.

Most soil moisture meters cost less than $20. These gadgets can help gardeners determine if their soil is dry, wet, or wet just a few inches below the roots. Large potted plants in small pots absorb water faster than smaller plants in larger pots. When you use a hygrometer instead of following a watering schedule, your plants will get the water they need, when they need it.

The Dos and Don'ts of Watering Houseplants in Pots with Drainage Holes

Do not place houseplants in pots without drainage holes.

Most houseplants need well-drained soil to grow and thrive. If water doesn’t drain from the bottom of the pot, the plant’s roots will remain in the water and rot easily. Check the bottom of the plant pots and replant plants without drainage holes into more suitable containers.

Water less in winter and more in spring.

In winter, the days are shorter and houseplants receive less ambient light through windows. When this happens, photosynthesis (the process by which plants convert light into food) slows down and the plant goes into a dormant period during which it requires less water. However, as spring approaches, longer days mark the start of plant growth, a time when its need for water increases. Adjust how you water your plants so as not to cause pain or thirst.

Don’t forget to empty the drip tray.

When watering houseplants, the excess H2O drains almost immediately into a collection pan beneath the houseplants. Don’t pour the water off right away—the plants may reabsorb some of the water over the next few minutes. After about half an hour, go ahead and throw it away. Letting plants sit in standing water increases the risk of root rot, which can kill the plant.

Be sure to suck your plants dry while you’re away.

, even the healthiest of houseplants can suffer from not being watered for a week or two. Avoid keeping them in bathtubs or sinks with several inches of water, or they may die from wet feet. Wicking is an easy way to make sure your plants get enough water without being overwhelmed. Place a large pitcher of water next to the plant. Cut a length of cotton twine or absorbent cloth long enough to extend from the plant to the bottom of the tank. Poke one end into the top of the soil and the other end into the pitcher. The rope acts like a wick, slowly delivering water to the plants in your absence.

The Dos and Don'ts of Watering Plants Don't Owerwater

Do not over water.

One of the main reasons houseplants fail. Newbies to houseplants tend to water their houseplants frequently, thinking it’s just what they need. However, overwatering increases the risk of root rot and fungal diseases. Seeing drooping stems, wilted leaves, whitish coating (fungi) or fungal gnats at home

On the other hand, when leaves on the base of houseplants dry out and drop and leaf edges elsewhere on the plant become brittle and brown , may be insufficient moisture. Again, refer to the soil moisture meter for that happy medium.

Top Tips for Watering Plants


Indoor potted plants add beauty and bring a touch of natural décor to the home, while outdoor garden plants beautify the landscape. However, keeping them healthy and thriving means giving them plenty of water. Those who are new to gardening or keeping houseplants may have some questions.

Q: How often should plants be watered?

Water once or twice a week, using enough water each time to moisten the soil to a depth of about 6 inches. It’s okay if the soil surface dries out between waterings, but the soil below should stay moist.

Q: How much water do plants need in a day?

Plants do not need to be watered every day. Instead, water deeply but less frequently. Deep watering allows water to seep below the roots, which encourages downward root growth.

Q. How to water the plants correctly?

The general rule is to water plants in the ground rather than using sprinklers, which can trap water on the foliage, increasing the risk of harmful fungal growth.

Q. Is it better to water the plants or rely on rainwater?

Outdoor plants love natural rain, but if you live where it rains at least 1 inch per week, consider watering to provide enough moisture for healthy plant growth.

Final Thoughts

In addition to light and oxygen, plants need water to thrive. Good watering habits will foster healthy plants both indoors and outdoors that will complement your home decor or landscaping. Regular watering is also important for producing healthy fruits and vegetables in the garden.

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