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House Plants : Watering Needs

Summer needsWinter needs

Summer needs

Water is a critical need of house plants for good growth, and for keeping them cool by transpiration – the plant version of sweating. It follows that more water is needed in the warm months. Water is lost from the compost in the pot and through the pot itself if it is made of clay.

Gloxinia rots when over-watered

Gloxinia rots when over-watered

The ‘Touch Rule’ is a simple test. Place a finger firmly on the compost in the pot. If it feels dry and hard, the plant may be in need of water. If it feels cool and soft, the plant has enough moisture. If it feels cool and wet and moisture remains on the skin, the plant is over-watered.

Winter needs

In the October to March period, house plants need only a fraction of their summer requirements. Using the ‘Touch Rule’, keep the plants between moist and dry – certainly not wet. Ideally, the compost should be dry on the surface and moist just below. Plants maintained slightly on the dry side resist cold and disease much better.

Watering will be necessary only every seven to thirty days in winter. The winter flowering house plants make an exception to the general guideline. Cyclamen, azalea, poinsettia, potmums and christmas cactus should be kept just moist in winter.

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