The biggest killer of houseplants at this time of year and throughout to be honest is overwatering.
We will touch on this first.
Generally during the winter or more rainy months the ambient humidity in a typical domestic home exceeds 50%. This combined with the lower light levels can mean it may take longer for your soil to sufficiently dry out. Decreased plant growth and dormancy will also significantly reduce the water uptake and transpiration of water via their leaves.
Your climate (how dry/humid or hot/cool your air is and even how bright/dim your light is) will all affect the dry-out rate of your potting mix, so learn to recognise when your potting mix is dry enough to justify another watering. The best method to learn and use is simply lifting the plant and pot.
A plant that is ready to be watered will feel significantly lighter.
You may also notice that the plant is easier to remove from the pot as the root ball has begun to contract.
Alternatively, if you are a habitual under waterer or more dangerously an over waterer you might want to customize your potting mix by adjusting the ratios of additives so that it dries in about 5-7 days in your conditions.
- If you find the media is drying too slowly, repot and add more bark and perlite for better airflow;
- if it’s drying too quickly, repot and add more peat moss or coco coir for more water retention and slowed evaporation.
This method is best to apply if you insist on say watering the plant every Sunday because that is your watering day irrespective if your plants need it or not. We know some people like a routine,
We cannot stress enough how the above step is not necessary should you master the art of picking up and gauging the overall “wetness” of the entire root ball and pot. Plants have evolved to cope with sustained period of drought more so than they have for excess water conditions. Marsh and coastal plants aside.
Whilst we do not recommend the use of moisture meters. We do appreciate they can be helpful to give you an indication of the potential moisture in a very small or specific area of the pot. The important thing to remember that to get a true picture of the overall moisture you would need to take several readings at different depths and different areas of the pot. This is also assuming that the meter itself is giving an accurate reading in the first place.
We firmly believe that the time spent to do this and subsequently make your watering decision, you would be far easier just picking up the plant and making an informed judgement with weight.