How to Water & Feed Houseplants

Watering and feeding your houseplants are very important parts to keep them alive and thriving.

One of the most common reasons why your houseplant dies is over-or-under watering your plants.  How often you need to water and feed your plant will depend on the age and species of the plant, the soil content, and the size pot it is growing in.

How to Water Your Houseplants

No plant can be left without water altogether and it seems like a simple thing to do.  Unfortunately, this is where many people go wrong when they are caring for their houseplants.  The soil should be kept moist but not wet.  Normally, most will need to be watered once or twice a week in the spring and summer.  In the fall and winter, they will need less, but it depends on the houseplant. 

Some houseplants need special care when you water them.

  • Orchids:  Once a week using very little water
  • Cacti and succulents:  You should only water them when the potting mix has dried out so they require minimal watering.
  • Citrus plants:  They need to be watered frequently and on a much more regular basis, unlike many houseplants.

The type of water that you use is also very important.  Some household plants are sensitive to the salts and chemicals that are found in tap water.  You should try to water your plants with rainwater if possible.

The houseplants that are native to marshy areas will need to have soggy soil.  They should never be allowed to dry out.  One such plant is the corkscrew rush.  Houseplants that have thin, long, fragile leaves will need to be water regularly so the tips of their leaves will not fracture and turn brown.  Once these types of plants dry out, it is difficult to save them.  They will also need more water during their period of growth

When you water your houseplants, it is best to let the water dribble out of small watering cans directly onto the soil.  The goal is to fill the space above the soil to the rim of the pot with water.  This type of watering is referred to as “over the rim” watering.  You just need to make sure that you do not over-water them because the plant will become airless and the root will suffocate.  You can also set your pot in a bowl of water and let them drink what it needs.  When you remove the pot from the dish all the excess water will drain out the holes in the bottom.  Air plants should just be misted, which means soaking the leaves with water.

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How to Feed Your Houseplants

It is vital to feed your houseplants during their growing period to encourage healthy, lush growth.  You should not feed your household plants when they are resting.  Only feed them when they are actively growing.  During the growing season, most should be fed every second watering, which is about every 10 to 14 days.  The growing season is considered spring and summer.  During fall and winter, you should feed them every fourth watering because they require fewer nutrients at this time.

One way to feed your houseplants is by using a liquid concentrate feed.  This is a great way to water and feed your houseplant at the same time.  You have to make sure that the mixture is right, not too weak or too strong.  Some houseplants need special nutrients in order to thrive.

  • Cacti and succulent feed:  This contains the nutrients that these houseplants need to help them flower.
  • Orchid feed:  This has nutrients to help them prolong flowering
  • Citrus feed:  These nutrients boost fruit development and set.
  • Bonsai feed:  These nutrients are for strong roots and rich green leaves.

Keep reading: When is the Best Time to Water Plants?

Liquid fertilizer

When mixing liquid fertilizer with water, follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.  Only mix enough to feed your plants.  Do not make too much because fertilizer that is stored only becomes stronger the longer it sits.  When you need to use it, it will probably be too strong for your plant and you will have to throw it out.

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Feeding pills and sticks

Using feeding sticks is a quick and easy way to fertilize your indoor plants.  You just have to push the stick into the soil and it will fertilize your plant.  There are also fertilizer pills that work the same way as sticks.  Both of these will give your houseplant food over a longer period of time.  The drawback to these is that sometimes, they will encourage the roots to become congested around the sticks or pills.  If you are using these to fertilize your plant, you need to not go past the midsummer growing season.  The reason is that with this last pill or stick, it will continue to fertilize the plant through the rest of the flowering season.  If you want to use these for your winter flowering put them in during autumn or early winter.

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You need to feed and water your plants on a regular basis because if not, they will underachieve and not grow as they should.  Water your houseplants when they need it and only feed the houseplant during the growing season.  That is when they need food to flower and grow.  If you are unsure when to water your houseplant, you can buy a moisture meter, which looks like a thin pencil.  The probe is pushed into the soil to measure the moisture level.  You just have to be careful when using this probe no to damage the roots.

If you go on vacation it is best to have someone to come in and take care of your houseplants for you.  Some larger plants can be left in their sauces but put them in a lightly shaded room on plastic sheeting.  During the week before you leave, water them several times.  Most plants can survive a week while you are gone.  A small plant can put on a large tray with about an inch or two of water in a lightly shaded room.

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