These simple tips will help your greenery thrive.
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Dousing your houseplants with any ol' kind of H2O just won't do, experts say. In fact, we should take as much care choosing the water we put on our plants as we do the water we put in our bodies. Simply put, if you want your plants to thrive, then it's important to understand which kind of water you should be giving them.

Watch the Temperature

First, don't spray cold water onto your plants, instructs Trey Plunkett, lawn and garden specialist for Lowe's. (They don't appreciate it the way we do.) Instead, "care for your houseplants with room temperature or tepid—around 90 degrees—water," he says. Check the temperature of your H2O with a thermometer. "Most water thermometers present a digital read-out temperature," he says. Be sure to avoid overly hot water too, with temperatures that rise above 90 degrees. Watering plants with hot water "can cause stress to the plant leaf and root systems," Plunkett explains. And try not to use chlorinated, hard, or city water. These types of water can leave a residue on plants' leaves, Plunkett says, which can "cause damage or a fungal problem" that could be fatal to houseplants.

watering plants with green canister
Credit: Guido Mieth/Getty

Upgrade Your Water

In fact, you might consider adding an outdoor rain barrel to your plant-care arsenal. Not only is collecting untreated rainwater a free source of H2O for your plants, but you will be guaranteed that it's "free of the chemicals and minerals often found in tap water," Plunkett says. If that's not an option, then "filtered water is often best for cacti, succulents, and other sensitive indoor and tropical plants" is your best bet, he says. (Only use tap water when you have no other options.)

Avoid Watering During the Hottest Time of Day

"The recommended time to water plants is in the morning hours—and whenever possible, the plants should not be watered in the late evening," he adds. Plants don't like to go to bed wet, he explains. "Ideally, the leaves should be dry before dark."

Water Generously

When you douse your plants, make sure the water reached the entire root system. In other words, water generously—not a little bit every day, Plunkett says. "It's important to water around the base of the plant, not over the flowers or foliage, and read the plant tag for specific instructions," Plunkett says. "When the water begins to flow from the drainage hole at the bottom of the planter, stop watering." And then, don't forget to pour the excess water off the planter saucer.

How Much to Water

If, when you water your plants, the water immediately comes out of drainage holes, your plant is completely dried out, Plunkett says, and you should water it more often. If you're still unsure of how to best water your plants, you can purchase self-watering systems to help, Plunkett adds. Scotts Gro Water Sensor Starter Kit "is a fun way to remain aware of your plant's needs," he says. "The sensor is simply placed in the soil and the system calibrates to the plant's watering needs using a catalog of more than 50,000 plants. The device will monitor your plants and even alert you when water is needed through push notifications or email."

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
February 26, 2020
I wonder if collecting rain water is the best option for indoor plants but I will give it a try. I usually use a water conditioner to treat my houseplant's water, like the one that conditions the tap water of all harsh chemicals so that it's safe for use in your fish tank. My plants do very well with that but I will add some collected rain water to their diets! I will let you all know what happens! Lee S. (Plant Mom.)