5 Houseplant Watering Mistakes To Avoid

13 Jul 2022

Watering is one of the most frequent care tasks in indoor gardening. Unfortunately, it is also the area where most new houseplant owners go wrong. From overwatering to lack of drainage, there are many common mistakes that can lead to the demise of your plants. Avoid these 5 mistakes to keep your houseplants happy and healthy year-round.

#1: Watering Too Often

Overwatering is one of the greatest houseplant killers. Most plants (and especially houseplants) don’t like to sit in overly moist, soggy soil. This leads to a condition known as root rot, causing the roots to become soft and mushy. Once severe root rot sets in, it is incredibly difficult to save the plant, so this is one of the most vital mistakes to avoid.

Never water when the top layer of soil is still moist. Rather test it with your finger and add water when it begins to dry out, with the amount depending on the specific houseplants you have.  

#2: Waiting Till The Plant Is Wilting To Water

On the other end of the watering spectrum, we have underwatering. For those who tend to forget about their houseplants, it’s quite common to wait until the plant is showing signs of struggle before watering again. Wilting and curling leaves are often used as an indicator of when to water. Unfortunately, if the plant has started wilting, it is likely facing water stress and should have been watered several days prior.

Again, testing the soil is the easiest way to avoid this mistake. Make it a habit to check the soil of your houseplants every couple of days to prevent over or underwatering.

#3: Watering Inside A Pot Cover

Pot covers are wonderful decorative additions to indoor gardens. Not only do they elevate your overall design by hiding unsightly plastic pots, but they can also be swapped and changed frequently – perfect for those indecisive designers that always feel the itch to change it up.

However, if you’re using pot covers for your houseplants, it’s vital to never water them inside this cover. Water quickly collects at the bottom and waterlogs the soil. The stagnant water also attracts bacteria that can harm your plants.

Always remove the plant from the pot cover before watering. Only return it to its original home once all the excess water has drained from the drainage holes. Alternatively, water inside the pot cover and pour the excess out after about 10 minutes.

#4: Watering On A Strict Schedule

The conditions around our houseplants change daily. From light levels to temperature and even humidity, there are several factors that can change how quickly the soil dries out week to week.

Watering on a strict schedule – say once per week as an example – ignores these factors, opening your plants up to stress from over or underwatering. Watering times are only a guideline and shouldn’t be followed strictly if you want to consistently water at the right time.

Always keep an eye on the soil and the performance of your plants to determine the best time to water. If you tend to forget, set a reminder to check the soil every few days and only water as needed.

#5: Lack Of Drainage Holes

Finally, the last mistake is using a pot with bad drainage or no drainage holes. When recycling containers, we may feel tempted to use ones without drainage holes to avoid the hassle of creating drainage holes ourselves. Often we find decorative pots that we desperately want to plant in for aesthetic value, ignoring their lack of drainage holes. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, this will eventually end up killing your houseplants. To resolve this issue, drill drainage holes into your chosen pot or simply use it as a pot cover, resting a plastic pot inside.

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