How Often Should I Water My Plant?
If an FAQ list existed at Tula, this would be at the top: How often should I water my plant? A simple question that doesn't always have the simplest answer.
In short, it depends. And usually it depends on how dry the soil is.
Different plants like to be watered at different intervals, usually depending on how wet or dry the soil is. Because of this, we always recommend feeling the soil or getting a moisture meter. You can also get a sense of the weight of the plant when the pot is full of water and when it is dry. The difference in weight is often very noticeable.
Many factors contribute to how frequently a plant needs water. Its individual needs aside, a plant's environment – temperature, air flow, sun exposure, soil mix, pot size, pot material, and whether it has a drainage hole – all play a part in determining how quickly the soil dries out.
Instead of prescribing an exact frequency in watering, we prefer to equip those seeking watering recommendations with the tools to understand their plants' needs. That way, when seasons change and winter comes along, our plant parents know intuitively to water less often, because soil typically takes longer to dry out. For more guidance on winter plant care, check out this Plant Read.
Plant watering preferences differ across a spectrum, and most of those preferences stem from the plant's native origin. Here are a few different buckets of plants, divided by how wet or dry they prefer the growing medium to be. For complete growing/watering instructions on specific plants, visit our Plant Library.
Some plants thrive in moisture, and for that reason love the soil to stay fairly wet. When the top of the soil feels like a wrung-out sponge, give these plants a good water:
Dry On Top
Soil typically dries in a pot from the top to the bottom. Because of this, we're able to judge if a plant wants more water by feeling for moisture at a certain depth beneath the soil surface.
Stick your finger into the growing medium or use a moisture meter buried a couple inches deep. If it is dry on top, but you can feel a bit of moisture one to two inches down, fully soak these plants and the soil they're growing in:
Arid plants like succulents and cacti prefer infrequent watering that allows them to use stored water in their leaves and bodies, rather than water taken from wet soil. We like to let the soil completely dry out between thorough waterings.
Stick your finger into the growing medium or use a moisture meter placed as deep in the soil as possible. If it is dry as deep as you can go and the pot feels light, water these plants until liquid is draining from the bottom of the pot:
Correct Ways To Water
There are many great ways to water, but the best involve fully soaking the soil until water is draining out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. This promotes healthy root growth throughout the pot and sets the plant up for healthy growth and an easy-to-follow watering regimen. It's also great to embrace watering time as an opportunity to clean leaves. Some possible methods include:
- Bringing plants to the shower or sink and watering them from above. Let them drain for ten minutes before putting them back in place.
- On a warm, rainy day, bring plants outside for fresh, steady water access.
- Water in place until water drains into the pot's saucer.
- Bottom watering works very well for certain plants. Research your plant before bottom watering.
- For pots without drainage, water without fully soaking the soil. Use a moisture meter to determine whether the bottom of the pot is dry before watering again.
Understanding plants' varying needs when it comes to watering is the first step to making plant care less of a chore and more of a cathartic outlet. By taking the guessing out of things and reading a plant through its soil, we're able to form lasting relationships with our plants that keep them happy and healthy.
For plant-specific care, visit the Plant Library, and if you ever have questions about caring for your plants that you can't find answers to here, email firstname.lastname@example.org.