Unlike their wild ancestors, commercial indoor plants are much more domesticated and possibly hybridized for ease of care and survivability in your home. While this certainly gives them an edge over their wild cousins, they depend solely on you for their care.
Plants obviously lack the means to demand water and nutrients, so it is up to us as plant caretakers to assess and determine what our plants need in order for them to continue providing clean air and natural beauty for our homes and offices.
One of the most important and basic requirements for keeping our plants healthy is an efficient watering cycle. All plants require varying amounts of water in order to sustain them. Under-watering can lead to wilting and browning of the leaves and fronds, and prevent blooms of flowers, while over-watering can lead to soil stagnation, root rotting, and the eventual drowning and death of the plant.
It’s important to research your houseplants beforehand and to adhere to each plant’s unique requirements for soil and water.
Humidity can also play an important role in the development and longevity of your plants. Certain tropical variants of houseplants require a humid environment to flourish, and frequent “misting” via spraying or an irrigation system. A high humidity index within your home or office may not always be prudent, or even achievable, which is why assessing and researching the types of plants you wish to have is an important factor before committing to their constant care.
Let’s assume you have done your research and understand the caring requirements of your chosen plants. You’re off to a great start! Long work hours and day-to-day living can sometimes keep us a little off balance with our responsibilities, and since many plants do not require our continuous and constant care in order to flourish like a child or a pet, it’s sometimes easy to forget about basic things that our green friends need.
How can you tell if your plants are parched and need a little water to keep them perky?
Many people simply pop a finger down into the soil and check for dampness. This method isn’t the most efficient, and it’s certainly not for folks who don’t enjoy a little dirt under their fingernails! Another downside to the “finger” method is that it’s sometimes difficult to gauge just how much (or little) water content is in the pot and soil. Water for plants is obviously affected by gravity, and as the water seeps into the soil, it trickles down and accumulates toward the bottom of the pot. Some pots have catch basins around the open base, allowing for water to accumulate and be re-absorbed as the plant draws in the moisture it needs.
If by chance you aren’t using a pot with a catch basin, or don’t have 12 inch long fingers to test the depths of the soil, don’t fret! There are a few other water-checking alternatives available to you!
One tried-and-true method is to use long skewers, the same type you would use for Shish Kebabs on the grill! Just poke the spear down into the soil and check the moisture level much the same way you would check your car engine for oil. This is one of the more popular (and cost effective) means of checking your plant’s soil to ensure they are getting adequate moisture. Be careful to avoid poking too hard, as you could potentially damage your plant’s roots or “root-ball” with the spear. Some plants have bulbs under the surface of the soil, so it’s important to avoid damaging those as well.
Finally, if you have a little pocket change on hand and want a slightly more accurate and “high-tech” way of checking the soil for water levels, the good folks over at http://www.thirstylight.com/ offer a very nifty (and thrifty!) piece of plant hardware that is sure to help you maintain your plants.
The Thirsty Light product works simply enough by continuously monitoring plant moisture once every second while powered on, eventually alerting you with a blinking LED when watering is needed. These little devices are small and compact enough to remain unobtrusive when left in the soil of your plant, and can be removed easily and used on all of your potted plants.
We hope these plant watering tips help you to maintain a beautiful set-piece for your home or office!
Need some help with the care and maintenance of the plants in your home or office? Connect with us and let us help!