One of the fundamentals of plant care is watering. All plants need water, even air plants! The challenging part of watering is figuring out how much, how often, and how to water. Here are some basic guidelines to follow when it comes to watering:
Most plants (with the exception of succulents, but we’ll get to that), like as much water as would fill up ¼ of the pot. So if you have a 3gal pot (which is usually about 12” in diameter and 12” high), water with 0.75gal or 12 cups of water. Succulents usually like to be drenched in water. Don’t do a little splash here and there. Mimic the desert rainstorms the plants would get in their natural environment. A downpour and then dry for a few weeks.
This one is tricky. Things like: light, humidity, and temperature all affect how often you need to water. As a general rule of thumb, stick your finger (see, thumb) about 2-3” in the soil. If soil sticks to your finger, you can wait to water. If the soil brushes right off, it’s time to water. The more light you get, the more often you’ll need to water. The more humid your space is, the less often you need to water. The higher the temperature in your space, the more often you need to water. Plants like Calathea or Alocasia like to be kept moist, so just test the top inch of soil before watering.
Don’t just pour along the edge of the pot. You want the water to reach the plant and it’s biggest roots, so pour the water as near to the plant as possible. Pour 25%, wait a minute for the water to absorb, then pour another 25%, wait, repeat until all the water is gone. If you just dump all the water at once, it’ll flow right through the soil and the plant won’t have time to absorb it. By pausing in between pours, you take advantage of the natural adhesive properties of water that will keep it retained in the soil.
Don’t forget! Use distilled or rainwater when watering your plants! Some areas have water high in chlorine and minerals which can impede a plant’s ability to take in water.