Plant Watering 101
The 411 on watering methods
Written by Natalie Anstey
Although it seems like a simple task, the way in which you water and care for your plant can have a huge impact on your green friends. It can even be the difference between life and death, so it is very important to read up on the watering requirements for each plant you welcome to your home or garden!
Check out the free Flora App to learn about the best way to water your plants!
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What Are the Different Types Of Water To Use For My Plant?
Generally there are three types of water that you can use for watering plants:
Should I Use Tap Water On My Plants?
Tap water is probably the easiest to come by, simply turn on your faucet and HEY PRESTO drinks for everyone! Although the most easy to come by, many plants and houseplants in particular, do not like tap water due to the harsh chemicals that can be found in it. Along with this, different parts of the world can have varying levels of pollutants, chemicals and minerals that can be troublesome for a sensitive houseplant. If your tap water has too much of this, it can even stop the plant from being able to take up the nutrients it needs. You will soon see if the plant is unhappy with tap water as the leaves may turn yellow and the general health of the plant will be poor. In this instance it might be a wise choice to swap to a different way of watering your plants.
Should I Use Rainwater On My Plants?
The more natural route and a favorite of experienced gardeners is using rainwater. Rainwater is easy to source and collect (think buckets) and generally has lower levels of chemicals and salt. It is free to collect and you can even install water butts in the garden to store all that free and natural goodness after a downpour! Having said this, if you are in an apartment it may be difficult to access. Be mindful though of your environment, as there are studies that suggest rainwater is not as healthy and natural as it once was. Depending on your area's pollution levels, rainwater can be quite acidic; If so it may be best to filter your rainwater before use.
Should I Use Filtered Water On My Plants?
Filtered water was once thought of as the most difficult and expensive way of watering plants. However, there are now ways to filter either tap or rainwater effectively for less! Gone are the days of buying bottled or distilled water; simply purchase a water filter. You know the sort, a water jug with an activated carbon pod in the top. This will then filter out any nasties and you will have usable water on tap (excuse the pun).
Rule of (Green) Thumb: If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t expect your plant to!
Watering Indoor Plants:
Watering houseplants can be tricky, as different plants have different requirements and some are far more thirsty than others! The majority of houseplants like to be watered once a week during their growing season but this is not true for all, so it's always worth doing your research. However, do not fear, there is a simpler way - The Flora app! Simply enter the names of your plants and the free Flora app will send you notifications when you need to water your plants. Nothing could be simpler!
Watering from the top is the easiest way as all you need to do is give the plant water until it begins to drain out the bottom and leave it somewhere to drain before putting it back in its usual spot! This works well for most plants, and can even be beneficial as if there are any pesky insects laying their eggs it will wash them away but some plants struggle with this as they don’t like any water getting near their leaves. It can also leave the roots being quite short and weak as they have no need to push down to take up water.
The best way to bottom water is to create a “bath” - fill a sink or tray with water and sit your plants in the water (making sure the water does not cover the top of the pot) and allow the roots to do the rest. Leave your plants in the water for half an hour or so or until the soil feels moist at the top. This is a really good way to water indoor plants as the roots will become strong as they push down to draw up water and there is no risk of accidentally wetting the leaves which a lot of houseplants hate. Placing house plants in a saucer of water is also a great way to water them - just make sure there are holes in the bottom of the pot or this won’t work!
Watering Outdoor Plants:
Outdoor plants have different requirements so really only common sense is needed. If the plant is looking dry and crispy, give it more water. If the soil looks boggy, water less. Ideally it is best to water deeply and less often through the warmer months. This will then encourage strong roots as they will reach down to draw up water. Think of roots like a muscle, the more they are used the stronger they become. If a garden plant is watered every day and with only a little water, then the roots remain short and spindly. Always try to water at the base of the plant and preferably in the morning, so any excess moisture on the leaves can dry before the cooler temperatures in the evening. During the cooler months and winter, outdoor plants do not require water, as they will be in dormancy and will be more likely to become waterlogged and frost damaged if watered.
The only exception to watering outdoor plants is if the plant is in a pot. Outdoor plants in pots don’t hold moisture and dry out very quickly in the summer so it is best to check every couple of days and keep watering to make sure it doesn’t completely dry out.
Download the Flora App for specific water recommendations for your plants!