Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Happy Houseplants 101: Watering

The most common comment I receive when people learn that I have a degree in Horticulture is, "I can't keep anything alive!  I'm a total black thumb!".  Over the next few weeks, I'm going to give you a crash course in how to keep your houseplants happy.  And yes, I do talk about plants like they have feelings :)

Watering is the aspect of plant parenthood that causes the most problems.  And, believe it or not, overwatering is usually the culprit.  Unfortunately the symptoms of overwatering and underwatering look almost identical, so people generally think their overwatered plant needs more water.  It's a vicious cycle, folks!

Today I'll walk you through how I water our houseplants. It looks harder than it is, and your healthy, thriving plants will thank you (silently) for your extra effort.  I only water our plants every 2-3 weeks this way and they are happy as can be.

1) Gather as many plants as will fit into your bathtub.  (Very Important: Make sure each pot has drain holes before you water).

2) Make sure plants are all stable and won't tip over when water is added.

3) Fill up a watering can and completely drench each pot.  I usually fill it right up until the water is even with the top of the pot.  I usually pour some water over the leaves as well to clean off any dust and allow my babies to breathe a little easier.

4) Let the water drain out (this usually takes 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of the pot).

5) Repeat steps 3-4 once more.

The reason you want to give the plant a lot of water is to allow the water to drain through the soil.  This helps to avoid a build up of salts and other toxins in the soil which can burn your plants. This burning is what makes the edges of the leaves look yellow trimmed with brown.

Every so often, according to package directions, you can add a liquid fertilizer to the water to make your plants extra perky.

Also, it's probably best if you don't allow your little ones to do this:

Elijah has it in for our plants, and he can accomplish amazing feats of acrobatics to reach them, even when I think they are totally safe.

Stay tuned! Next week we'll talk about repotting your houseplants (another thing that is not as scary as it seems).

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