Common Houseplant Watering Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

by Colette Winnard 09/12/2022

Are you watering your plants the right way? With plants having so many different needs, it can be difficult to know. However, most problems people have with their houseplants are caused by how and when they're watering them. To help prevent frustration and unhappy plants, here is a simple guide to the most common watering mistakes and how to avoid them:

Watering Too Frequently

The most common reason houseplants die is because they were overwatered. While each plant has different needs, the most common types of houseplants require infrequent watering--some even prefer to dry out entirely. Succulents, cacti and aroids like pothos and monstera are all examples of plants you should water sparingly to avoid root rot and other problems.

To avoid overwatering, the best thing to do is check the soil. You can do this several ways, but a simple moisture meter is worth the investment. You can also use wooden skewers or chopsticks and check the soil like you would when baking a cake: if the stick comes out dry, it's ready for watering. Some plants will also communicate their water needs with drooping or wrinkled leaves. Learning the signs of your specific plants' thirst will help you keep them happy.

Watering From the Top

Many popular houseplants are tropical and enjoy high humidity. These plants thrive when placed near humidifers or given regular spritzes with a spray bottle. However, there are also many that need their leaves to stay dry to stay healthy. Succulents and cacti are prime examples of plants you should water not only sparingly, but very carefully.

Water the soil at the base of the plant and not the plant itself. Doing so will prevent mildew, wilting and other issues caused by excess moisture on the plant's surface. Consider using a watering can with a long, narrow spout so you can aim the water precisely. For very small pots, a plastic squeeze bottle with a bent tube works wonders.

Each houseplant is unique, and some hard-and-fast rules don't always apply. However, if you keep these two watering tips in mind, you'll keep your plants happy, healthy and hydrated no matter what their specific needs are.