University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener –
Watering Houseplants

Houseplants are a wonderful addition to your home. They provide warmth and color, and if you choose the right plants, they're not difficult to care for. Some of them even remove toxins from the air.

One of the most important steps in caring for your indoor plants is irrigation. It's a common question from homeowners: am I watering too much? Not enough?

One of the leading causes of houseplant death is improper watering. Plant species differ on the amount of water they need, so do your research to determine the proper amount to keep your particular plant healthy. Overwatering can cause many problems with your plant such as root rot, mold, and leaf drop. Under-watering your plant can be just as harmful. The plant's growth will slow, leaves will curl and wilt, and the plant will eventually die.

Check houseplants frequently to evaluate their moisture needs. Environmental conditions, as well as light intensity and humidity levels, will affect the amount of water your plant should receive. Check the moisture of your plants' soil by sticking your finger about an inch into the soil; if the soil is dry, your plant should be watered. If the soil is still moist you generally do not need to water your plant yet.

Make sure your plant is in a properly sized container. If your plant has outgrown its pot, it will need significantly more water and should be repotted. On the other hand, plants that are in oversized containers have a hard time using all the water in the soil which often results in overwatering.

Most houseplants can be watered with regular tap water at room temperature. Some plants, especially those with long, thin leaves like spider plant, are sensitive to chemicals in tap water. You can let the water sit out overnight to give the chemicals time to dissolve. Softened water contains sodium, and shouldn't be used for watering plants. If this is the case, use a faucet from outdoor taps, as they're not usually connected to the water softener.


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