How to Water a Potted Plant

Person watering roses in a potted plant

To water or not to water? That is the question. But enough with Shakespearian references. The question is a serious concern among experienced and just-starting gardening enthusiasts.

Watering your potted plants the right way can make all the difference in their health and growth. So, it's essential to grasp the dos and don'ts of watering potted plants. And that includes when to water and how to water.

The Impacts of Too Much or Too Little Water for Potted Plants

You must water plants with some level of precision. It's not a matter of throwing water into the pots when the mood strikes. Plants suffer without appropriate water levels. And that's true whether you over or underwater potted plants.

Let's start with the consequences of overwatering.

Overwatering Potted Plants

You might think you're erring on the right side by giving your plants a lot of water. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Here's what happens when you overwater:

  • Root Rot: Excess water in the soil can lead to root rot, a condition where the roots of the plant decay. This can cause your plant to wilt, yellow, and eventually die.
  • Reduced Oxygen: Roots need oxygen to thrive, but waterlogged soil lacks oxygen. Overwatering can suffocate the roots, leading to poor growth and overall plant decline.
  • Fungal Diseases: A constantly damp environment invites harmful fungi that can damage your plant's health.
  • Yellowing Leaves: Overwatered plants often display yellowing leaves as a sign of stress and soggy roots.
  • Pest Attraction: Standing water can attract pests like mosquitoes and fungus gnats, creating an additional problem for your plants.

Underwatering Your Potted Plants

As you've seen, overwatering has negative impacts on your plants. Well, underwatering can have equally detrimental effects:

  • Drying Out: The most obvious impact is that plants dry out quickly. This leads to wilting, browning leaves, and a parched appearance.
  • Stress: Underwatered plants become stressed, slowing their growth and reducing overall vitality.
  • Loss of Leaves and Flowers: Without water, plants shut down to focus on staying alive. As a result, it may shed leaves, buds, or even flowers to conserve moisture.

Hopefully, you now understand why you must gain some expertise in watering. Without it, you've quite literally doomed your plants!

So, how do you water correctly? Let's find out.

How Often Should You Water Plants in Containers?

The first step in caring for your potted plants is understanding how often they need water. Different plants have different needs, so knowing your plant's specific requirements is essential. Some key factors to consider include:

Plant Type Impacts Your Watering Schedule

Different plants have different water needs. Succulents, for example, need less water than ferns. Even the size of the plants impacts how often you should water. Larger plants generally need more water than smaller ones.

Smaller Containers Require More Frequent Watering

Decorative planters and containers come in all sizes. And their size impacts your watering frequency. For example, smaller pots dry out faster than larger ones so they may need more frequent watering.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Decorative Planters and Pots

Whether your plants are indoors or outdoors impacts the frequency of watering. Indoor plants enjoy a more stable environment. They face less stress than those outdoors. As a result, you'll have fewer watering concerns.

Outdoor plants, however, face dry weather, wet weather, sweltering conditions, wind, etc. These changing conditions impact how often you must water.

For example, hot and sunny weather can cause soil to dry out more quickly. With 90-degree plus July and August heat, your plants often need watering twice daily.

How Do You Know When It's Time to Water Your Plants?

Understanding the variables above offers a helpful hint for when to water. So, if you have a plant outdoors in hot weather and in a small container, keep your watering can close by. It will likely require water daily.

A good rule of thumb is to stick your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry at that depth, it's time to water. If it still feels moist, you can wait a bit longer.

You can always pick up a moisture meter to remove the human element. Just push it into the soil, and you'll get a reading that tells you the soil condition from dry to wet.

Remember, however, that it's always better to underwater than to overwater.

How Much Water to Give Plants in Containers

Once you've determined it's time to water, the next step in learning is how much water. Here, the key is thoroughly watering the plant's roots without drowning your plants.

Here's how to do it:

Water Your Plants Slowly

Pour water onto the soil slowly and evenly. This allows the water to soak in without running off the top of the soil. It also gives the water a chance to permeate the soil.

And here's another essential to remember: water the soil, not the plant. That's especially true for outdoor plants. You want the water to hit the roots and not the plant leaves. The roots will disperse the water to the leaves.

But if you spray the water all over the plant, two things happen. First, you waste water because it never reaches the roots. Second, you risk fungal diseases from wet leaves, especially when cooler evening weather hits.

Check for Drainage

Another rule of thumb for gardeners is always to use planters with drainage holes. The drainage holes help prevent water from pooling in the container's bottom.

Equally important, they are a good tip that you've watered adequately. Saturate the soil when you see water running out of the bottom. Use saucers to catch excess water and empty them if necessary.

How to Water Potted Plants Correctly

We mentioned this earlier, but it's worth repeating. One common mistake in watering potted plants is watering the leaves instead of the soil.

Always water at the root level. That's where the plant absorbs water and nutrients. So direct your watering can or hose towards the soil around the base of the plant. A watering can works best for smaller pots, while a hose works best for larger planters.

When you use a hose, avoid splashing water onto plant leaves. Otherwise, you risk the sun burning the leaves, not to mention opening a door for disease.

Self-Watering Planters: Say Goodbye to Over or Underwatering

Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to worry about watering? Well, thanks to self-watering planters, you can do just that.

These innovative containers come with a built-in reservoir that provides a steady water supply to your plants. They're the perfect solution for healthy, thriving plants. Here's why:

  • Consistent Moisture: Self-watering planters ensure your plants receive consistent moisture. Plant roots pull from the reservoir as needed, eliminating the risk of overwatering or underwatering.
  • Plant Health: Because your plants get the water they need when needed, they're healthier. You'll see fewer stress-related concerns like leaf yellowing or dropping.

Plants aside, you'll have fewer concerns about killing your plants. And you'll have no worries about when to water. The water reservoir extends the time between waterings. So, you can set it and forget it -- fill the reservoir once a week or even less.

Learn more about self-watering planters.

Root & Vessel Has Decorative Self-Watering Planters in Every Style

Root & Vessel has Artstone self-watering planters. They have one-of-a-kind looks that match any decor, inside and out. They're available as round or square planters and as flower boxes.

The resin planters are durable thanks to a blend of resin and stone. And their self-watering feature lets you get away for a long weekend without having a neighbor stop by to water your plants.

All Root & Vessel planters come with a 100% guarantee.