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Watering Potted Plants

Martha Stewart Living Television

How often should you water your house plants? Every plant requires a different watering schedule, depending on its kind, its size, the size of its pot, the humidity of the room, and the amount of sun it receives. But regardless of these factors, don't wait until your plants are looking dull or droopy before you water them.

Test the soil frequently to determine its moisture content: Insert your finger 1/2 to 1 inch deep into the soil; if the soil feels dry below the soil surface, your plant needs water. Another way of determining whether your plant needs watering is to lift up the pot. If it feels too light, the plant needs water; make sure that you have a good idea of how much the pot should weigh when the soil is good and moist.

What to Water Plants With
For indoor watering, a watering can that holds plenty of water and has a light flow is a sensible choice. You may prefer one with a sprinkle attachment.

Greenhouse or Sunroom
If you're watering plants in a greenhouse or a tiled sunroom where you don't have to worry about spills, choose a watering wand. Many have convenient 15- to 20-foot-long self-coiling hoses as well as mister attachments. Always water your plants with room-temperature water.

How Much Water
Water them thoroughly. Fill the pot to its brim, then fill it again until you see that some of the water has drained out of the bottom of the pot. Greenhouse growers often fill their pots three times to ensure that their plants get the water they need.

A good rule of thumb: About 10 percent of the total amount of the water you give the plant should leak out of the drainage hole. Always let the water drain completely; never let a pot sit in a saucer full of water.

Soil height is another factor that affects the watering needs and general well-being of a plant. If the soil level is higher than 1/2 inch below the rim of the pot, there won't be enough room for an adequate amount of water to accumulate to give the plant a proper soaking. If the soil level is too low, the plant will lose valuable root space and its lower leaves may be deprived of light.

Dry Plants
If your plant is excessively dry, give it a good watering from above, then place it in a basin so that it can drink the water from the bottom up, absorbing as much as possible. If the plant seems to be drying out too quickly between waterings, it may need to be replanted in a larger pot.

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