If your houseplants have spent the summer outdoors it won’t be long before you’ll be taking them back in the house. While they are outdoors “Mother Nature” can help take care of their watering needs, but when you bring them indoors they are entirely reliant upon you to meet those needs. While watering may seem like a simple task more plants are lost because of improper watering than probably any other cause. Knowing how to properly water your plants is probably the most important information you need to be successful with indoor plants and we’re going to share our indoor watering secrets with you!

Knowing how to water your plants is the first kernel of indoor gardening knowledge. The best way to water your plants is to give them a thorough watering and only water them again when the soil dries out. Frequently watering in small amounts usually means the water doesn’t fully get to the roots where it needs to be absorbed. Conversely, overwatering will push air out of the soil and eventually cause the roots to rot. In either case, the leaves are likely to turn brown or yellow, wilt and drop off the plant, and eventually, the plant will end up in the garbage or on your compost pile.

The second tip about indoor watering is perhaps something that most of us don’t really think too much about; the type of water we use. Tap water is commonly used to water houseplants and it is generally acceptable to do so. However, if you use a water-softener it often contains chemicals that can damage houseplants. Boiled water that is cooled to room temperature is an acceptable way to remove chemicals from your water, such as chlorine, and if you live in a rural setting collected rainwater is another good source of water for your plants. Finally, if you have a freshwater aquarium, when you change the water in your tank you can use it to water your houseplants. This water is often filled with beneficial nutrients in addition to being another water source.

One final piece of advice about proper indoor watering is probably the most difficult part. Knowing when to water can be challenging to learn, but it is usually a matter of learning to “read your plants.” For example, drooping leaves are usually a sure sign that your plant needs water but to be truly successful you need to learn your plants more subtle hints that they are in need of moisture. Each plant will be different and keep in mind that these watering needs change from season to season. A plant that needs a great deal of water in the spring and summer will need less in the fall and winter.

Some signs to keep an eye out for are changes in the color of the plants leaves or the dropping of buds from flowering plants. You can also pick up the pot itself and “weigh” it in your hand. The heavier the plant the less likely it is that it needs water. For larger plants, you can use a moisture gauge which is placed in the soil and tells you if the plant is too dry. Finally, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that it is usually better to water less than more. If you are unsure if a plant needs water you can wait a day or two and reassess if watering is still necessary.

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