Caring for indoor houseplants requires avid outdoor gardeners to change ingrained habits. Scaling back the urge to water may be the toughest habit to change. During the summer months, gardeners spend pleasant hours watching their plants grow and flower during nearly daily waterings. Gardeners associate copious amounts of water with healthy, vibrant plants. While that is usually true of outdoor flowers, it’s a practice that spells disaster when applied indoors. Compared to their outdoor cousins, indoor plants have meager water requirements. Rather than aiding robust growth, too much water can kill indoor plants.
When plants are brought indoors, their roots are bound in pots from which excess water cannot escape. If watered too frequently, delicate plant roots are forced to sit in a soggy bog that will eventually turn roots into a rotting mush. Without roots to provide necessary oxygen and nourishment, the plant will die. Even if plant pots have drainage holes and are placed in saucers that allow excess water to drain out, drainage holes can become clogged, impeding drainage. Saucers left full of water constantly wick water back into the pot which can result in soil that is constantly too wet.
Too little is better than too much when it comes to watering indoor plants. Indoor plants thrive when soil mixtures are moderately moist, but not soggy. The soil surface of most indoor plants should feel cool and damp to the touch but not wet. Cacti and succulents, however, require little water and should be allowed to dry until soil becomes dry and crumbly before watering. The best way to water indoor plants is to saturate the soil with water every week or so, rather than pouring water on top of the soil every day. Be sure to allow excess water to run out of the pot’s drainage hole and empty water from pot saucers.