How Often Should You Water Your Plants?

How often do you water? Let’s talk about how often you should water your plants so they’re not overwatered or die due to lack of water.

It’s hard to know what’s right sometimes, especially if you’re a new plant parent. You want to make sure not to forget and that the new plant has enough water.

Without water, a plant will die. But I have known many plants that were loved too much and died anyway! Overwatering killed them, poor things.

One thing is for sure. It doesn’t matter what type of plants you have in your home. They all need some water to survive.

I’ve found that the plant’s requirements for water depend on the type, its size, and its location. The type of plant is the most important factor to consider.

Watering Based on Plant Type

Every type of plant has its own requirements. What is right for one plant might even kill another plant.

Once you know the plant’s category type, you can get a general idea of how to approach watering your plants.

We’ll discuss the three types so you get a better feel for their requirements.

Three Plant Types

There are just three basic types of plants, so there’s not too much to remember. These are the foliage, flowering, and cacti/succulent types.

Foliage plants

chinese evergreen houseplants are non-toxic to pets
Chinese Evergreen

Foliage plants are the ones that you acquire simply for the appearance of the leaves or foliage. They usually don’t produce flowers, but their foliage continually provides a beautiful show for your indoor garden.

Examples of foliage plants for indoors are:

  • Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
  • Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elatior)
  • Croton Variegated (Codiaeum Variegatum)
  • Golden Pothos (Epipremnum)
  • Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena braunii)
  • Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena Marginata)
  • Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa)

There are many more that we cover in other posts too.

Generally, water foliage houseplants directly on the soil near the root ball.

These plants will need to be watered thoroughly during the growing season from spring through fall.

They will go into dormancy during winter and will need much less water. Allow the top one inch of soil to become dry before watering again.

Flowering plants

Human hand holding watering can and watering red Geranium flowers pots on windowsill. Indoor
Watering Flowers

Flowering plants are ones that you purchase simply for the flowers they will produce.

Keep the soil moist but not wet for these plants. They usually do not like their feet to be wet.

Succulents and Cacti

succulents with watering can
Succulents and Cacti

Succulents and Cacti have acclimated to live in drought and need very little water. They usually have thick, fleshy leaves that are adapted to holding water.

If you water them too much, there’s a chance that they’ll rot. But remember, they will need some water!

During the spring and summer months, water them so the soil is barely moist.

During the winter months, they will go into dormancy. Barely water them at all.

Watering Methods For Indoor Plants

There are a few watering methods for your houseplants. Knowing the right method for your specific plant will help you give it the best chance of thriving in your environment.

Top To Bottom Watering

Most plants prefer to have their root ball exposed to a large dose of water from the top of the soil. Water at the base of the plant until water runs out of the bottom of the pot. Try not to get water on the leaves.

Bottom Watering

These plants have their root systems growing closer to the bottom of their pot. They prefer to be watered from the bottom. To do this, you can have the plant’s pot in a saucer. Fill the saucer with water and wait for the plant to take as much water as it needs. Once the plant is done taking water, remove the excess water from the saucer.

 Immersion Watering

The plants that prefer to be water this way want to have their entire container placed in a sink of standing water. They will soak up as much water as they need, which might take up to an hour. Many plants like this method of watering, especially during their growing season. Be sure to take the plant out of the sink and let the excess water drain out before putting it into its usual spot.

Watering Frequency

The question is this: how often should you water your plants? The answer is a mixture of several factors.

The Type of Plant

Foliage plants have thinner leaves and need more water

Flowering plants need more water

Cacti/Succulent plants need less water

Environment

Light and temperature are two variables in the environment. As one or the other increase (during summer for example), plants’ photosynthesis is more effective. Watering requirements rise too.

Humidity

Generally, if the surroundings are more humid, the plant will require less water. If less humidity is present, the plant will require more water to make up for it.

Time of Year

The time of year will determine how often you should water your plants.

During the summer, there is more light and it’s warmer. The plant’s photosynthesis process is very effective now, and they will require more water.

During the winter, there is less light and it’s cooler. Photosynthesis decreases and the plant slows down or goes dormant. They will require much less water.

The rule of thumb is to water more in the summer, less in the winter.

Size of Plant’s Pot and The Material

The size of the pot and the potting soil material will help affect how often you should water your plants.

Large plants that are in small pots will require more water than small plants in large pots. This is because the size of the roots in the pot will determine how much water the potting soil can hold.

Plants in clay pots will require more water than plants in plastic or ceramic pots. Clay pots are porous and will wick the water away from the potting soil, drying it out faster.

Using mulch around the plant over the top pf the potting soil will help the plant retain water.

Types of Water

Each plant type has its favorite type of water.

Tap Water is usually fine to use for watering your plants.

If you have soft water, it contains salt that will build up in the potting soil. Just “flush” the pot every couple months to rinse the salt out by pouring water through the pot and out the bottom. Be sure to add fertilizer too, as you’re washing out nutrients too.

If you have hard water, chemicals or minerals are present that could harm your plants. Consider using another water source for the if you do.

Rain Water or Distilled Water is the most natural water to use for your plants.

Over-watering or Under-Watering Signs

Watch for these signs of incorrect watering and adjust your watering frequency as needed.

Dry soil if the soil is dry and hard, water more often. Prick the top of the soil to allow the water to penetrate more readily. Try using the immersion method to get the potting soil moist throughout the pot.

Brown, Crisp Leaves can result from too little or too much water. Do the research on your specific type of plant and adjust the watering amount.

Refusal To Bloom not getting the right amount of water. Do the research on your specific type of plant and adjust the watering amount.

Drooping or Sagging need more water

Soggy Soil might cause root rot.

General Guide Only

yellow plant watering can
Watering Can for Indoor Plants

This is just a general guide for watering your plants.

Take the time to learn about your specific houseplants so you can be providing the correct amount of water at the right time.

I’ve found House Plant Expert’s A-Z Index List of House Plants to be an invaluable guide for me.

We also have guides for taking care of specific houseplants on our site. Feel free to poke around.

Oh, and here’s a list of fragrant plants that smell so good you’ll even want them in the bathroom!

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