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Houseplant Watering 101: Avoid Too Much Of A Good Thing

How often to water your houseplants is such a loaded question. There are so many variables which determine this. Check out this post & video to see what you need to take into consideration. All houseplants aren't watered the same!

Houseplant Watering 101: Avoid Too Much Of A Good Thing

I get asked the question “how often should I be watering my houseplants?” all the time and there are so many variables that go into the answer.  You know, it’s sort of like trying to answer the question “how often should I wash my hair?”.  I was an interior plantscaper (which is an interior plant specialist) for years and have lots to share with you on this subject.

Actually, there is no secret or one thing I can tell you.  Plants are living, and like us, have different needs at different times.  I’ve maintained 1000’s of houseplants and they all have different needs.  It can be confusing but I hope these points will clear up the “watering my houseplants” issue for you.  And when I say “avoid too much of a good thing”, I’m referring to water!

This is what you need to consider when figuring out the frequency of watering your houseplants:

Here are the points listed in the video which all add in to determining how often to water:

Type of houseplant

Do a little research because some need watering less frequently than others.

How warm your house is

Warmer dries out faster.  Plants in different rooms can dry out at different times.

Air circulation

It’s a good thing but stagnant air slows down drying out.

Amount of sun

More sun, more drying.

Time of year

In winter, water less often.   Your houseplants need to rest in the cooler, darker months.

Top dressing

Moss or stones on top of the soil slow drying.

Size of the pot

Smaller pots, like 2 or 4″, will dry out much faster.

Type of pot

Clay dries out faster than plastic.

Soil mix

Soils with more perlite &/or lava rock will drain & dry out faster.

Type of plant

I don’t water all my plants at the same time.  Some need watering more often than others.  Most interior plants require “average” water which is every 7-14 days, depending on the factors listed above and in the video.  You can check out our book Keep Your Houseplants Alive for plant watering requirements.

watering houseplants

If you’re totally frustrated with watering your houseplants, here are some options to help you: a watering meter, an app on your phone (yes, there are apps to remind you), the good old calendar and self-watering containers.

Big Red Flag!

Don’t be a “hit and run” waterer.  Splashing a plant every 2 days is not how it likes to be watered.  Most people overwater their houseplants and kill them with kindness.

I’ve always believed that it’s better to err on the side of too little water than too much water.  Do you struggle to keep houseplants alive?

watering houseplants

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  5. Hey Cousin, as you know I am a pretty good layman gardener. Lately, I have been paying close attention to your watering tips. I’m not heavy handed with the water, but I have been over watering my aloes and mother in law tongues. I am watering my aloe about once a month now and it is gorgeous! Thanks and keep up the good work!

  6. Hi there Cuz – You’re so welcome, glad I could help out with that. Plants like to rest in the winter & the days are shorter & darker so plants need less water at this time. The aloe & mother in law tongue definitely like to be kept on the drier side anyway. Mine love it here in Tucson!

  7. I have a Bella Palm in a 3/4 inch tall plastic pot. It was probably watered today because i got it from the store. I’m not sure what’s in the soil. It’s in my bedroom farthest from the window, and I am on the fifth floor of an apartment building. My window is sometimes open. I think i gave enough information to help you tell me how often to water it. I’ve never owned a plant before and I would like to know how often to water it. Thanks in advance!

  8. Hi Jonathan – I’m not sure how to answer your question because you say a 3/4 inch tall pot. There is no such thing. Not sure if you mean 4″ pot. General rune: the smaller the pot, the more often you have to water. Anyway, here’s a link for you which should help out: Nell

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