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Death by Water (or Lack Thereof)

by Jamie Johnson on December 15, 2021

One of the most important things a new plant owner needs to be aware of is overwatering their new plant babies.  The other is watering erratically or not at all.  Death by drowning or dehydration isn't on my top 5.  Appropriate H2O is one of the keys to happy plant parenting, ensuring many years together.

Plants have different needs when it comes to hydration.  Understand your plants needs, and instead of sticking to a strict - every Sunday at noon - watering schedule, observe the soil.  Is it dry?  If so, it's likely time to water.

Your particular environment (dry house, sunny window sill, cold drafts) will all impact the soil, and thus your plant and the watering schedule.  

Containers matter.  Pottery without drainage holes will often hold excess water, giving the plant "wet feet"; unless your species enjoys this spa treatment, it's best to look for pottery that allows excess water to run out to avoid root rot and other unpleasantries that can arise.   

Always water at the base of the plant, which is especially import for succulents and cacti, and not the leaves.  Be thorough when you do water to ensure good hydration between waterings. 


by Jamie Johnson on July 02, 2023

Hi Maureen -

Plants that are grown that are grown outdoors are adapted to to those conditions. For example, after rain, I will assume wind and sun will come shortly after and help dry the plant. For plants that are cultivated and grown indoors, we plant parents need to be mindful that we are not stressing the plant by adding more nutrients, even water, than they need.

Succulents, for example, are composed of 98% water. They can withstand drought conditions more than overwatering, which cause root and stem rot.

As for the question on potting, I consider the plant and root system. Spider plants do not mind have soggy soil, and will root bound pots requiring frequent upsizing. On the other hand, the pony tail palm has a shallow root system, perching just below the surface of soil.

When in doubt, try to research the plant in question, and try to mimic the care needed based on that information.

by Maureen on July 02, 2023

Jamie great guidance thanks. I thought a weekly watering cycle which my friends follow would be an improvment. Based on this I will keep an eye on each plant. A question back on not watering from the top. This has always seemed odd since rain and nature would water from the top. I worry that some of my pots are too deep to have the roots find their way to bottom watered pots. Do I soak until the top of the soil appears wet?


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