Caring for houseplants in the winter is one of my gardening weaknesses. I either forget to water them when they need it, or water them too often. Proper watering of houseplants is one of the trickiest areas in that over-watering promotes root rot, while under-watering in most cases will result in plants drying out and possibly dying.
The amount of water a plant requires depends on the type of plant, soil and lighting conditions, environmental temperatures and the humidity in your home, as well as the plant’s growth cycle. During the plant’s active growth period, it absorbs more water than during rest periods. Another factor to consider in determining the plant’s watering schedule is the size and type of container in which it is growing. For example, a porous clay pot will absorb more water than a plastic or glazed pot.
The finger test is the best way to tell if a plant needs watering. Insert your finger into the soil about a half-inch and feel how moist or dry it is. Plants should be watered with room temperature water. Cold water can be harmful to roots and foliage and hot water can kill them immediately. Always water the plants until the soil is saturated. Watering them under the shower also washes the leaf surface. Plant’s roots will grow toward the soil surface if the plant only receives superficial watering.
The ideal drainage time is 10 to 15 minutes. If it takes longer, the drainage holes may be blocked. If so, poke a stick into the holes to loosen the compacted soil. If the soil drains too rapidly, the water may be running down between the root-ball and the pot. As a result, the water will not be absorbed by the plant. This is sometimes a problem after a plant has been allowed to dry out. To correct this problem, submerge the pot to its rim in water, either in a sink, tub, or bucket until all air bubbles have stopped. This is also the best way to water hanging plants.
After a thorough watering, don’t allow plants to sit in water. Pour off any drained water from the pot’s saucer, if it has one. These guidelines may help your plants survive indoors until the weather is warm enough