How To Water Indoor and Outdoor Plants: 5 Watering Mistakes That Kill Your Houseplants

Keeping your indoor and outdoor plants alive and thriving can be a challenge. One of the biggest challenges is to know when and how to water indoor plants properly and correctly. In this article, I will discuss the watering mistakes that could be killing your potted plants, specially indoor houseplants and how to avoid them.

How to Water Indoor Plant, Rubber Plant
Rubber Plant

Watering plants in pots may seem like an easy task, but it's not as straightforward as it seems. It is easy to make watering mistakes that can harm your plants. Under watering, over-watering or watering at wrong time your potted plants can have a significant impact on their health and overall growth. It's important to understand that different plants require different water needs.

In this article, we'll discuss five things to avoid while watering plants. I follow these watering tips for all my indoor houseplants and outdoor plants in Australia, but they are valid for any place.

Watering Mistake 1: Over-watering Plants

Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes made while watering indoor plants and outdoor plants.

Video on How To Water Indoor Plants

How to water indoor plants video
  1. Overwatering indoor plants can kill them. If you over-water your plant, it can cause the soil to saturate leaving no space for air (oxygen) which can eventually suffocate the roots due to a lack of oxygen, causing them to rot and die. Plant roots require oxygen to work properly.
  2. Overwatering can lead to root rot, mold, and other fungal diseases.
  3. Overwatering can also cause soil erosion and wash away essential nutrients that your plants need.

Signs of Overwatering Plants

The question is how tell if a potted plant is over-watered?

  1. The symptoms of overwatering include wilted leaves, yellowing leaves of leaves. New leaves may turn brown and soft. You may see a build-up of a white, crusty, crystallized layer of salt on the soil surface. Yellowing leaves, accompanied by slow growth is also a symptom of over watering.
  2. If the leaves feel soft and limp, it is also the sign of overwatered plant.
  3. Another sign of overwatering is the tip of the leaves turning brown.

Croton leaves drooping
Croton droopy leaves

How to save an overwatered plant?

If you have over-watered your indoor plant, then to save it do the following:

  1. Move the pot in shade to dry out, even if it is a full sun plant. Open up the drainage holes of the pot to drain water from soil.
  2. You may create additional air spaces around the root ball by inserting a stick in the soil and taking it out at several places in soil or you may repot the plant into a different pot, if possible.
  3. After a few days, start watering again only when the top 1 inch of the soil is dry to the touch.

Watering Mistake 2: Underwatering Plants

Underwatering can also cause significant harm to your potted plants just like overwatering. When plants don't receive enough water, they become stressed, and their growth and development are stunted.

Signs of Under-watered Plants

Many times you forget to water your plants, so the plants become drought stressed. Form a habit of checking on your houseplants at least once a week to see if they need a drink. You can set some reminders in your mobile phone to water your plants regularly.

The symptoms of lack of water in your houseplants and other potted plants will show as the plants' leaves feeling dry and crispy to touch. The leaves will begin to drop. To avoid underwatering, check your plants regularly and water them when the soil is dry to the touch.

In woody plants, the yellowing, wilting leaves and burning or scorching on edges of leaves are the symptoms of drought stressed plants. The plant may begin to drop its leaves, like in an indoor rubber plant.

You can trim the brown edges of the leaves as the brown tips on the leaves turn green again.

Rubber Plant Leaves Falling
Rubber Plant Lead loss
due to lack of water

How to tell if a plant is Dehydrated or Overwatered?

If the leaves feel crispy and light and/or turning their tips brown, the plant is underwatered. If the leaves feel soft and limp, the plant is overwatered.

When to Water the Plant

Insert your finger in soil, water your potted plants only if the top one inch of soil is dry.  This is an important rule of thumb for indoor plants.

Watering Mistake 3: Watering at the Wrong Time

Timing is crucial when it comes to watering potted plants. When should you water your plants, in morning, noon or evening?

The best time to water your potted plants is in the early morning when the sun isn't too harsh. If you water in the morning and if you have watered on foliage, then the foliage will soon dry up when sun comes. This will help prevent many fungal diseases.

Watering your plants in the evening can lead to moisture build-up, which can cause mold growth and also may attract pests. Also the foliage will remain wet the whole night, causing fungal disease.

Watering your plants during mid day when the sun is too strong is not good. It can cause the water to evaporate before it can be reach the roots absorbed by the plant roots.

Watering Mistake 4: Watering on the Foliage

Watering on the foliage is not good for the plants. This can lead to mold growth and other fungal diseases. Watering on leaves of a dense plant may prevent reaching water to the roots. Therefor, it is best to water the soil directly, that will ensure that the water reaches to the roots where it's needed the most.

Watering Mistake 5: Using the Wrong Type of Water

The type of water you give to your potted plants can also have an impact on their health. If the tap water is chlorinated then you are giving chemicals to your potted plants that are harmful to your plants.

If you tap water gives hard water, that can leave behind mineral deposits in the soil that can damage the soil and roots.

Using distilled or rainwater is a better option as it's free of chemicals and minerals.

In conclusion, avoiding the above five common mistakes can help you keep your potted plants in tip-top shape. Remember to water your plants when the soil is dry, at the right time, and use the appropriate type of water. With proper care, your potted plants will remain healthy and thrive for years to come.