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How often should I water my plants? The 5 rules of watering indoor and outdoor plants

One of the first watering rules for any plant is to “water in the mornings”, the Royal Horticultural Society confirmed about best gardening practises.

By watering in the mornings, the plant has more sunshine-filled hours to soak up the water and so the soil is more likely to dry by the evening.

A drier soil in the evenings helps to discourage slugs, snails and mildew diseases, thereby encouraging healthy growth.

The RHS explained: “Plants start to transpire in sunlight, drawing water from the soil, through their roots, up their stems and out through tiny pores on their leaves called stomata.”

Watering midday, however, is “not a good idea” because too much water evaporates quickly from the surface of the soil so it would be an inefficient use of water.

The second rule for watering plants is to water at the root and not at the leaves.

“Plants can only effectively use water through their roots, taking water from the surrounding soil or compost,” the RHS noted.

“So water needs to get to where it’s needed, at the tip of the roots and not the leaves.”

Wet foliage will only encourage fungal problems, which is another reason as to why plants should be watered at the root.

When it comes to watering, all plants would prefer natural rain water compared to tap water.

Tap water may be rich in minerals, but many plants won’t appreciate the excessive mineral content.

It’s also important to let plants “dry out” before watering them again, which requires the “touch test”.

How to do the touch test

Push your finger down into the compost or soil until knuckle-length to see if the soil is damp.

Should the soil feel damp, watering is not required; however, if the soil feels dry all the way to the knuckle, then it’s best to water the plant.

Five rules of watering plants

  1. Water in the mornings
  2. Water at the root
  3. Use rainwater when possible
  4. Let plants dry out
  5. Use the touch test

The RHS added: “How much water is needed will depend largely on the water requirements of that particular plant and how actively it is growing.

“The type of soil or growing media as well as weather are also important considerations.”


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