How to know when house plants aren’t getting enough water?


house plants on window sill

Many houseplants get enough water. We know they do because we see the leaves turn color, and we hear the water seeping into the soil. But what exactly is it that houseplants get when they need water? What are their nutritional requirements, and how much water do they really need?

One of the hardest things about taking care of houseplants is knowing the perfect water requirements. It is all too easy to over-water them or let them run dry and different houseplants require specific care; therefore, you’re not alone if you find it difficult to muster.

Here are helpful guidelines to assist in the best care for your houseplants and monitor if they’re getting enough water.

The best way to know whether or not your plant is getting enough water is by addressing one or more of the factors listed below:

Drooping leaves

dropping house plants

Check the foliage for wilting or drooping leaves, especially at the tips. For instant relief, place a water plate under the pot and water the whole soil surface of the plant with an extra spray on the leaves to provide enough water for the plant to replenish.

Soil color

soil in buckets with green trowel

By taking a close look at the soil color, you can determine whether your houseplant has been fed enough water or not enough. Soil deep-colored means that there is plenty of water in the pot. Not enough water would present a drier and lighter soil color. To test this, fill a small pot with about one inch of water and put your palm on top of it. If your palm feels damp, then the water in the pot is enough for your plant.

Discoloured leaves

yellow leaves

Check for brown or yellow leaves, particularly at the tips. Also, check for yellow or brown wilting stems. Leaves that are brownish or turning brown or yellow and falling off are also a sign that your houseplant needs instant water relief.

Soil dryness/ dampness

sand in a pot

Sometimes it can be hard to determine if your houseplant is flourishing or struggling. Or maybe you lost track of the last time you watered your plant? Having a feel for the soil can help address those concerns. If the soil appears damp and moist, your plant well cares for it; however, it needs urgent care if the soil is dry and rough. You don’t need fancy equipment. Use your finger and your sense of touch to distinguish your plant’s health. If you’re still unsure, another simple technique is to use a skewer to see what is happening beneath the surface.

Weight of the pot

Put, when your plant has moist soil, meaning it’s received efficient water, your pot will be heavier than if your plant has dry soil, making it much lighter and needing urgent care. When you first purchase your houseplant, please familiarize yourself with the weight of the plant and continue doing this when it grows or is repotted.

However, like people, not all plants are the same and require specific care instructions to keep them flourishing. Other factors may be impacting the health of your houseplants, including environmental factors such as the weather, air conditioners, heaters, and whether or not the plants are getting the adequate sunlight needed to keep them alive.

Is your environment impacting how you water your houseplants?

Consideration of the weather is important when thinking about providing enough water for houseplants. If you are growing plants that spend all of their time in the house, try to place them outside for a few hours once a week, if you’re blessed with a beautiful sunny day and thoroughly water them from the roots to properly soak up the water and sunlight allowing them to grow.

If you live in a dry area, where there’s a lack of moisture or use drying external factors like heating and air condition units, consider spraying the leaves of your plants at least every day in addition to your weekly watering to maintain healthy and flourishing plants which are fighting against the drying conditions.

Watering your houseplants can be a messy proposition, so make sure to do it regularly to avoid stressing the houseplants out during the process. Please take a closer look at their environment and adapt your care that best suits your plant.

What type of houseplants you have may require different watering needs?

Some houseplants require weekly watering, and others need very little to thrive. Ensuring you understand the specific plants care instructions is vital for keeping your plants alive and thriving and enriching your home or office.

Cactus and succulent plants are types of plants that require very little water due to them having water-storing characteristics. They will tend to require less water than other houseplants, but they should be monitored closely by someone responsible for ensuring that the water stays on the plants.

If you suspect that your houseplant has gotten too much water, you can always get an additional plant or two to replace it. These plants naturally grow in the shade, but they do not need much sunlight to thrive. Both of these houseplants will do well if you allow them to remain partially green while keeping an eye on the weather.

The common mistake with these plants is that people tend to forget to water them or neglect the plant due to its water-storing characteristics. Try the above guidelines to test whether the plant needs a little more attention and water replacement.

Flowering houseplants come in many types, shapes, and sizes. Many types require the same amount of water, nutrients, and sunlight as other houseplants. Most require the same amount of water, once or twice a week, but not all the same amounts.

This is why it’s important to be familiar with each type of houseplant’s water requirements. Knowing what they need and how much water they should receive will help you choose the right kind of houseplant for you, no matter where it is located in your house.

Flowering houseplants require more water than most houseplants because they are generally grown in large pots or containers, such as lilies. They do not have root systems to break down and loosen soil, so they don’t “sweep” the dirt as other houseplants do, so they don’t need as much water. However, they do require a lot of extra attention.

Flowering houseplants require regular watering, and you should check your houseplant’s water conditions at least once a week to make sure they’re getting the proper amount of water to grow healthily.

Common mistakes when caring for your houseplants

Are you finding no matter what you do, you’re a perpetual houseplant destroyer? You’re not in the wrong, and you may be over caring for your beloved houseplants. Using the wrong soil, inefficient natural sunlight, and overwatering are widespread mistakes constantly performed by new and seasonal houseplant owners.

Firstly, always make sure you’re using a premium quality potting mix suited to the plant type. Poor quality potting mix and soil will only set you up for failure, no matter how brilliantly you water your houseplants. If you purchase an already potted houseplant, ask the person you bought it from what soil or potting mix is used if they can’t answer your request, option to repot your plant with the correct premium soil if requires.

Visit any neighborhood nursery and ask for their help and specialized guidance for what soil or potting mix best suits your houseplant.

The second point, although it’s aesthetically pleasing to have plants in dark corners to bring a sense of nature and vibrancy into your home or office, if the plant type requires adequate sunlight, you may want to rethink why you’re purchasing that specific houseplant or find another home for it around the house that allows it to grow.

If you desperately need to place it in that dark corner or spot away from natural light, make an effort to set it outside or in front of a window for a few hours a day. Light and direct sunlight help the plant soak up the required nutrients needed to flourish. However, too much light and direct sunshine can be damaging to the plant as well. Time in darkness also helps the plant grow, similar to how sleep helps us grow as children.

For instance, foliage plants require between 14-16 hours of light per day, 12-16 hours of light for flowering plants, and all plants needing at least 8 hours of total darkness every day. Another thing to monitor is how lights in your home or office are used. Try to keep to a similar schedule which will greatly impact the health of your plants.

Again, it doesn’t matter how well you water your plants, and if they don’t have access to direct natural sunlight and moments of darkness, you’re hindering their ability to live their full life.

The last point, overwatering your houseplants can harm the plants. Like too much water is bad for humans, that goes for plants too. Leaving them outside when you have a week of rain is not going to help their growth. Watering them every day is also going to hinder their development.

Make sure you know the specific care requirements needed for your different houseplants and how much water is suitable, and when to give them the best chance to not only survive but to thrive.

If all else fails, a common formula to follow is; too much water will result in no oxygen to the roots, leading to them rotting. Not enough water will result in roots drying out.

Conclusion on how to know when house plants aren’t getting enough water

Gathering all the information stated above, where are you placing your plant, how much light is required, what environment is the plant living in, weather conditions, external factors that may come into account, and specific plant needs, you’ll be much more equipped in how to care for your indoor plants.

Get to know your plant above all the guidelines stated in this blog. Again, like people, plants are all different and come with unique quirks and personalities. Once you understand how your plant functions, I guarantee you’ll understand how much water your plant requires and how to best care for your treasured houseplants that bring us so much joy.

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Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter, and professional gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 46. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

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