The Art of Watering Houseplants: A Comprehensive Guide for Plant Parents

Watering is a fundamental aspect of houseplant care, yet it's often one of the most misunderstood. Finding the right balance can sometimes feel daunting, from overwatering to underwatering. But fear not, fellow plant parents! In this article, we'll delve into the art of adequately watering houseplants, providing you with practical tips and techniques to keep your green companions thriving.

Understanding Your Plants' Needs:

Before we discuss watering techniques, it's essential to understand that different plants have different water requirements. Factors such as species, size, season, and environment all play a role in determining how much water your plants need. Research the specific needs of each plant in your care and observe its behaviour to tailor your watering routine accordingly.

Signs Your Plant Needs Water:

Learning to read your plants' signals is critical to preventing overwatering and underwatering. Look out for signs such as:

  • Wilting or drooping leaves
  • Dry, crispy leaf edges
  • Yellowing or browning foliage
  • Soil pulling away from the pot edges

These indicators suggest that your plant may be thirsty and need a drink.

Watering Techniques:

Now that you're familiar with your plant's needs and the signs of dehydration, let's explore some effective watering techniques:

  1. The Soak and Drain Method: This is the most common watering technique for houseplants. Simply water your plant until water begins to drain out of the bottom of the pot, ensuring thorough hydration. Allow excess water to drain away completely, and never let your plants sit in standing water, as this can lead to root rot.
  2. Bottom Watering: Bottom watering can be a gentler alternative for plants with sensitive foliage or those prone to fungal diseases. Place your potted plant in a shallow container filled with water and allow it to soak up moisture through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Once the soil surface feels moist, remove the plant from the water and let any excess drain away.
  3. Watering Cans with Fine Spouts: Investing in a watering can with a long, fine spout can help you target water directly to the base of the plant without splashing onto the foliage, minimising the risk of leaf damage and fungal infections.

Tips for Success:

  • Quality of Water: Use room-temperature, filtered, or rainwater whenever possible, as some plants are sensitive to chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride in tap water.
  • Adjust Based on Season: Remember that your plants' water needs may fluctuate with the seasons, with increased water requirements during warmer months and reduced needs during winter when growth slows down.

Common problems with watering and how to fix them


Overwatering is a common pitfall that many plant parents encounter in their journey to nurture lush indoor gardens. It occurs when plants receive more water than they can effectively absorb or utilise, leading to waterlogged soil and suffocated roots. This excess moisture creates an anaerobic environment that deprives roots of essential oxygen, ultimately causing them to rot. Signs of overwatering include wilting, yellowing leaves, and a foul odour emanating from the soil. Moreover, over time, overwatering can weaken the plant's overall health, making it more susceptible to pests and diseases. Understanding the balance between hydration and drainage is crucial in preventing overwatering and ensuring the well-being of your beloved green companions. The primary key to remember is that overwatering is not giving your plant too much water at one time but watering your plant too frequently.

How to treat root rot:

Treating root rot in plants requires prompt action and careful intervention to salvage the affected plant. First, it's essential to identify the problem by examining the plant's roots. Root rot typically manifests as mushy, discoloured roots with a foul odour. Once identified, the first step is to remove the plant from its pot and gently shake off excess soil. Next, trim away any visibly rotted roots using clean, sterilised scissors or pruners. After pruning, it's crucial to let the remaining healthy roots dry out and aerate to prevent further rot. One effective treatment for root rot involves using a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. Mixing one part hydrogen peroxide with four parts water creates a solution that can help oxygenate the root zone and inhibit the spread of rot. Soak the plant's roots in this solution for about 30 minutes before allowing them to air dry. Finally, repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil, ensuring proper drainage to prevent future occurrences of root rot. With timely intervention and proper care, many plants can recover from root rot and regain their health and vitality.


Underwatering can lead to hydrophobic soil. Hydrophobicity in houseplant soil can present a challenge for maintaining healthy and vibrant indoor greenery. This condition occurs when the soil particles repel water, leading to poor water absorption and drainage. Over time, factors such as compacted soil, excessive use of certain fertilisers, or prolonged periods between watering can contribute to the development of hydrophobic soil. When soil becomes hydrophobic, water pools on the surface rather than infiltrating the root zone, leaving plants thirsty and prone to dehydration. 

To remedy this issue, gardeners can employ several strategies, including gently aerating the soil to improve water penetration, incorporating organic matter to enhance soil structure and moisture retention, and repotting the plant with fresh, well-draining soil. By addressing hydrophobic soil promptly and implementing appropriate watering practices, plant enthusiasts can ensure that their indoor green companions thrive in a healthy and nourishing environment.


Mastering the art of watering is essential for maintaining healthy, thriving houseplants. By understanding your plants' individual needs, learning to read their signals, and implementing proper watering techniques, you can create an optimal environment for your green companions to flourish. So, grab your watering can, tune into your plants' needs, and watch them thrive under your care!


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