The Art of Watering, or How Not to Kill Your Houseplant

Watering your plants correctly may seem like a basic skill to many gardeners but it is a key skill for beginner gardeners to learn for their plant’s livelihood. Water is a basic necessity for all life and acts as a transport medium, allowing nutrients from the soil to enter plant cells. Too little water can starve the plant while too much water can drown it, forcing air from the root zone which depletes the plant’s oxygen supply, leaving the plant vulnerable to fungi and bacteria which can cause root rot and death. Unfortunately, there is no one measure or rule for how often or how much a plant needs to be watered. No two plants are the same, some preferring swamp land while others prefer desert sands. Fortunately, there are some simple techniques and products that can be used to gauge a plant’s need for water.watering can for gardeners

Your Plant’s Container can make all the Difference

Clay pots tend to draw moisture from the soil, causing plants in pots made of this material to become more easily dehydrated. Choose enameled pots, metal, glass, plastic or other non-porous materials which will conserve water instead. Also, make sure you have proper drainage, whether this is from drainage holes or with a drainage layer of stones or other materials that are not degradable.

A Few Simple Rules

Make it a habit to check on your houseplant’s moisture level often. If your plant is in need of water there are a few simple ways to tell. The first method is done by simply burying your finger an inch into the soil. If the soil feels dry it needs to be watered, if it feels moist then let your plant be. You can also compare the color of the soil to its original color. If the soil has become pale it may need watering but this method can be deceiving as the top layer may be dry whilst the middle and bottom layers are moist. The most sure-fire way of measuring a plant’s moisture level is by using a moisture meter. These instruments are inexpensive, can be found at most nurseries and are the most full-proof way to measure your plant’s moisture level.

Identifying Signs of Dehydration:

  • slow leaf growth

  • translucent or brown, dry leaves

  • leaves or flowers drop prematurely

Identifying Signs of Overwatering:

  • young and old leaves fall during the same period

  • root rot (bad odor or soft roots)

  • moldy flowers

  • no leaf growth with rot on existing leaves

Cures for Forgetfulness and Vacations

The Moisture Wick

All you will need for this method is a piece of string or an old shoelace and a small tub or pot, filled with water, for your plant to sit on. Insert one end of your yarn or shoelace into the top of the soil and push it down through the drainage hole using a knitting needle, into the tub or pot. The yarn or shoelace will draw water up into the pot as the soil dries.

The capillary mat

A capillary mat can be made from felt, an old blanket or an old piece of carpet. The mat is cut to size and placed under the pot over a draining board. The mat simply has to be kept moist and the plant will be able to absorb the moisture when it is needed.

In Case You Still Forget

If you forgot to water your plants, there is still hope. Grow Big 521’s formula combines nutrient-rich organic fish emulsion with Grower’s Secret Pro and lavender oil, which gives the formula a pleasant smell. Grow Big 521 is a balanced, organic, all-purpose fertilizer that can perk up dehydrated and tired plants in 12 hours with a full recovery and new growth in a week. 

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