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House Plants : How to Water

MistingOver-watering | Too little water

Misting 

The method of watering has an influence on the frequency. Soaking the pots to half their depth in a basin of water will ensure that a full complement of water is absorbed. Allow to drain afterwards. Plants watered by this method

Watering from the top of the pot is easier because the plants can be watered in situ. Fill the rim space with water. If it soaks away quickly, fill it again. It can be quite difficult to re-wet dried out posts by this method as much of the water escapes between the compost and the pot.

A good compromise is to soak-water every third or fourth watering during the growing season. In winter, top-watering is best, because a full soak-watering might leave the compost too wet, with little prospect of drying quickly enough.

Always use water at room temperature, as cold water can cause plants to drop their leaves. Use only ‘soft’ water for azaleas, citrus, camellias, stephanotis, and indoor heathers. If the water supply is hard – ‘fur’ in the kettle – use rainwater, or melted water from defrosting the fridge.

Over-watering

Wet compost is cold, and this can slow down or even stop growth. On over-watered plants, new leaves can be small and weak. In winter, cold, wet compost exhausts the plant’s food reserves, the leaves turn yellow and fall off, or parts of leaves turn brown, often without drying out.

Do not stand plants in a saucer or tray of water, especially in winter. It is very common for entire plants to die if rotting of the roots follows over-watering. A heavy pot is a good indicator of too much water.

Too little water

Wilting is the most dramatic manifestation of water shortage. The plant cells, empty of moisture, deflate like a balloon and rigidity goes from the leaves and soft stems. Following wilting, plants seem to recover upon watering, but later, brown patches often develop.

Plants that frequently run short of water, even without wilting, suffer considerably, because parts of the root system may die. Growth is often affected – new leaves will be small.

Flowering can be hastened but the flowers tend to be small and often shrivel without opening. Dry plants look ‘hard’ – often with a bluish or greyish tinge. A light pot is a good indicator of dry compost, even though the surface looks moist.

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