How Much Water Does My Plant REALLY Need? The 20 Watering Dos & Don’ts You Need to Know

We all know plants need water to survive and grow but some of us are a little too attentive, watering any chance we get and some of us just forget to water altogether. Whichever way of the watering can you fall, we want our plants to be happy, so here’s what we need to know about watering!

There’s been a real surge in gardening and house plants in recent years, with more and more of us praying to the plant gods to not less us kill our fiddle leaf figs with kindness. The basic necessities of plants are light and water and so the watering has to be done RIGHT. Sometimes easier said than done…

Yes, mate! House plants are glitz and glamour when watered right! via GIPHY

Not sure what you’re doing with your plants AT ALL? Check out the tips below!

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1. DO water plants in the morning

Just as we love a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, so too does our garden of water. The soil is at its coolest in the morning so water has the best chance of seeping down to the roots before evaporating in the heat.

2. DO water plants at soil level

Tempting as it is to stand over your garden spraying a shower of water from the hose, plants benefit more from soil level watering. When planting your garden, consider installing a drip irrigation system. A cost-effective DIY project that can make a HUGE difference to your plants!

3. DO give plants in pots MORE attention

If you have plants or trees in pots, their soil dries out MUCH faster than their green mates in the ground. The smaller the pot, the more frequently you need to water it – every day during in summer. Water first thing in the morning to avoid any fungal issues.

4. DO use a watering arm for container plants

Can’t quite reach those hanging pots? Buy one of these handy hose spray arms to help you out. Genius!

5. DO check moisture levels before watering

It can be difficult to know how dry your soil REALLY is so these handy soil moisture meters are a great idea! You can find these at Bunnings or Mitre 10 for around $15.

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The must-have watering tool of the trade, the moisture meter. Source: Instagram / katrinas_instagram

6. DON’T water too often or too little

Quickly watering plants every day isn’t ideal. This kind of shallow surface watering really just dampens the soil and doesn’t encourage deep root development. Instead, opt for less frequent watering that thoroughly saturates the soil, encouraging plants and lawn roots to dig deep for water.

7. DON’T think all sprinklers are created equal

There’s nothing more Australian than turning the sprinklers on the lawn, BUT, depending on your sprinkler style, they’re not always great for giving your garden a good soak. Lots of sprinkler water can be evaporated or blown in a completely opposite direction with the wind and simply doesn’t reach the base of your plants. Still loads of water fun for the family, not so much your plants.

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Above ground, sprinklers aren’t always the best solution. Source: Bigstock

8. DON’T forget your trees

It’s easy to focus on flowers, vegetables and new seedlings – but don’t forget your trees need water too. For new trees and shrubs, saturate them two to three times a week for the first month, then once a week. Older trees only need to be watered once a fortnight when rain is scarce.

9. DON’T water your pots with a jet spray from the hose

Watering with rapid firing water into a pot is a mistake. Chances are the soil is going to shoot out of your pot upon impact and your plant will reel its roots back in horror. EASY DOES IT. Be gentle, a slow trickle of water is best.

10. DON’T rely on the rain

We live on one of the driest continents in the world, we can’t rely on the rain to keep our garden looking lush. Most gardens do well with a good weekly soaking, if the rain isn’t supplying it – we have to!

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11. DON’T overwater your plant babies

Guilty as charged, I LOVE to actively water. Overwatering is one of the main causes of ‘failure to thrive’ in a house plant. Signs of overwatering include dropping stems, yellowing leaves and annoying fungal gnats – so lay off the water and remember to use your soil moisture meter!

12. DO check your soil is not soggy

Use a well-draining potting mix in your house plants, they don’t get the same level of heat or sun as their outdoor pot plants so can be subject to a soggy bottom. Mix some perlite or peat moss into your soil mix to improve aeration.

13. DO use rainwater to water your indoor plants

Forget filling the watering can from the kitchen tap, choose rainwater over tap water for watering indoor plants for best results.

14. DO use a mini watering can

Lugging 10 litres of water around your home is really just asking for a wet accident – use a small watering can such as this IKEA Vattenkrasse watering can ($13) for inside so you don’t drown your plants or your furnishings!

mum central
Tiny, gorgeous watering can for indoors – just $13 at IKEA! Source: IKEA

15. DO use your moisture meter inside too

Just like outdoor plants, indoor plants need their moisture levels checked too. Resist the temptation to water them on a schedule. Instead, check each pot with the moisture meter and water ONLY when it’s reading in the dry zone!

16. DO check your plant can breathe

Always, always make sure your plant pot has at least one drain hole in the bottom of it! Planting your plants in pots without drain holes is like giving them a death sentence since they need air and good drainage.

17. DO water less often in winter

Winter is typically a ‘down time’ for most indoor plants, they’re bunkering down to do BIG things in spring, their active growing season. Using a soil moisture meter, you’ll see that they require less water in the cooler months before amping up their neediness for Spring. Don’t forget about them though!

18. DO empty pot water saucers

If you have water sitting in saucers underneath your pot after watering, empty them after 30 minutes. Plants don’t like wet bottoms or sogginess!

19. DO wick your plants if going away!

I’m guilty of leaving my plants in a bathtub of water with a few inches of water in the bottom, but this wicking watering trick is MUCH better for your plants. Place a large jar of water next to the plant. Cut a section of cotton rope or even a strip of absorbent fabric long enough to reach from the plant to the bottom of the water jar. Poke one end into the top of the soil and insert the other in the water jar. The rope acts as a wick to slowly transfer water to the plant while you’re away. Genius.

indoor plants
Do remember your plants if going away on holidays! Source: Bigstock

20. DO keep the hope alive

If you’ve accidentally overwatered your plant and it’s dropped all its leaves and looks to be knocking on death’s door, just leave it alone. Don’t toss it out or give up on it, just leave it alone for a good few weeks and see if it makes a comeback – you might just be amazed!


Yet to develop your green thumb and launch into being a plant mum? Check out our post on indoor plants for beginners, it’s full of great, easy to care for plants.

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Avatar of Lexi Klaebe

South Australian mum and self proclaimed foodie, Lexi can most days be found in the kitchen, apron tied firm and armed with a whisk or wooden spoon!

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