Watering schedule, or how you might be slowly killing your houseplant

Watering schedule, or how you might be slowly killing your houseplant

Tldr: scroll down for the conclusion

As the days are getting shorter, many houseplants are going into their winter sleep. Especially in the North of Europe there’s not a lot of daylight, and plants really need sunlight to grow. As a consequence, your plants will drink a LOT less than they do during growing seasons (spring and summer). The risk of overwatering becomes massively higher this time of year.

As we know most of you have a lot of different plants at home, all with their own needs, it therefore stands to reason that it’s just not possible to expose them all to a one size fits all watering schedule.

Even if your plants have very similar needs, a difference in light can make one plant utilize loads of water, and another one hardly absorb any at all. 

Some general pointers:

the larger the pot, the slower the soil will dry out.  Think a tea towel versus a bed sheet in a tumble dryer. 

plants grown in brighter conditions generally drink more than plants in grown in lower light. The more photosynthesis that is going on will naturally reflect on the amount of water needed to facilitate this magical process. 

if the air is very dry, your plant will naturally be more thirsty. We have the process of transpiration to thank for this. 

local proximity to an air conditioner or heater dries out your plants environment quicker


Consider what your plants like: some plants like the soil to dry out in between watering (most aroids), and so they need more time in between waterings. Other plants might be native to more humid conditions, and these optimaly should never be allowed to dry out.  Make sure to research your plant collections watering preferences individually. Perhaps group together plants requiring similar watering patterns together. 


A good rule of thumb would be to get the know the weight of the plant with pot when it’s wet and dry. Making regular rounds and lifting up each plant will tell you which plants need watering.


What you could do is make a spreadsheet where you log when you have watered your individual plants last, get to know their average watering needs (is it every week, every 10 days,…) Bear in mind that the schedule you make for summer should not be continued blindly in autumn and winter. As mentioned before regularly lifting your pots will give you the best indication that a change in habit or needs has occurred. If you consider all these things, it would make sense to check all your plants say once a week (or twice if you have very thirsty plants and/or optimal growing conditions) Pay particular attention to changes in Spring and Autumn.  Summer and Winter tend to be more consistent where you can afford to let your guard down a bit. 


With winter in mind, don’t be surprised though that some plants will not need watering for several weeks or more. The monstera variegata is a perfect example of that: it hates having its feet wet, and the white parts get brown in a heartbeat when you overwater. Personally I only water my MV at home when it gets a little bit droopy. Downside of being an underwaterer is that the plant will grow slower if you only water it once a month in summer 😉 


In conclusion: there is no one size fits all watering schedule for house plants, and the best way to know whether your plants need watering is still in your hands… lift up the plant and feel the weight 😉




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