Skip to main content

How much water do your houseplants need? Here’s a guide to houseplant water needs

Tips for giving your houseplants the right amount of water

Tending to houseplants can be quite different from tending to garden beds. If you aren’t used to any form of container growing, you may be wondering, “How much water does a plant need to grow?” Since plants outside are also exposed to weather conditions and other environmental factors, they have slightly different care needs than plants grown indoors. Read on to learn more about houseplant water needs.

A person watering with a metal watering can
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How often should you water your houseplants?

Your plant’s water requirements will vary depending on the type of plant it is, so it’s important to research each plant you have to make sure you’re giving it the best care possible. Although no two plants are the same, there are some general things to keep in mind no matter the type of plant. Unlike outdoor gardening, it’s wise not to water on a specific schedule. Instead, check your plants every day or two to see how they’re doing. You’ll find that different plants will need to be watered on different days, and some may not need to be watered every week.

You always want to put your plants in pots that have sufficient drainage. This allows you to thoroughly water them until some drips into the tray. There is still a concern about overwatering, but giving the excess water a place to go will ensure that the soil and roots have some to absorb and don’t sit stagnant in soggy soil, which can cause your roots to mold and rot.

Keep in mind that the size of your plant will also help determine how much water it needs, which is why small plants should never be immediately placed in large pots. A small plant won’t need as much water as a big plant, so if it has too much space, there will be an excess of water in the soil around it and drown your plant. Similarly, when a plant starts to outgrow its pot, you’ll want to repot it to a larger space to ensure it has the room it needs to grow. Otherwise, it may not get enough water for its size.

Most importantly, always use room temperature water when watering your plants. Anything too hot or too cold could shock the roots and cause damage.

Person watering houseplants
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Do houseplants need more water than outdoor plants?

Plants in containers will often dry out faster than plants outside, so it’s important that you don’t treat your indoor plants the same as you would your outdoor plants. Every plant has preferred growing conditions, and even within the same type of plant, you’ll find that care changes when the plants are brought indoors or grown in containers (e.g., growing tomatoes outdoors vs. growing tomatoes indoors).

A woman watering plants in a greenhouse
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Is it possible to overwater your houseplants?

Yes! Having pots with drainage holes will help aid against overwatering, but it is possible to provide your houseplants with too much water. As mentioned above, you’ll be able to soak your soil and know when the plant has enough water when it starts to seep into the drip tray; however, you don’t want to keep the soil constantly wet. You should always let the top inch or two of soil dry out before watering your plant again, otherwise, the roots won’t get enough oxygen and the plant could drown.

Luckily, there will be indicators of overwatering before your plant is beyond repair. One of the biggest signs is wilting, which often throws people off because plants will start to droop when they aren’t being watered enough, too. So, this is where you check the soil. If it’s moist, you’re giving it too much water and need to let the plant dry out a bit. If the overwatering is particularly bad, you may even start to smell some kind of fungi or bacteria growing in the soil due to the moisture.

Houseplants grouped in a windowsill
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to combat overwatering

To combat any overwatering, you can either try to wait and see if the soil dries out on its own, or take the plant out of the pot, allow the roots to dry out a bit, and repot it in drier soil. If you pick that option, you’ll want to wait a few days before watering again. Be sure to cut off any mushy or dying parts of your plant when you repot it so that any nutrients from the soil will be put toward the healthier leaves and stems.

Above all, it may take some trial and error. Every plant has different water requirements, and even then, it doesn’t always mean that they’re hard and fast rules. The trick here is getting to know each individual plant, what it likes, what it needs, and where it’s happiest in your home.

Editors' Recommendations

Kiera Baron
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kiera Baron is a freelance writer and editor, as well as a budding digital artist, based in Upstate NY. She is currently one…
Can you use Epsom salt for plants? What you need to know
4 ways to incorporate Epsom salt into your garden routine
Epsom salt

Chances are, you might have heard of the life-changing magic of Epsom salt in gardening. But remember, Epsom salt is nothing like your typical table salt since it's actually magnesium sulfate. So, here's the big question for the plant enthusiasts out there: Is Epsom salt good for houseplants? Although there hasn't been too much research about its benefits, many experienced home gardeners swear by Epsom salt for plants.

It's been a go-to for plant enthusiasts for years, so it's worth giving a shot when you want to troubleshoot specific foliage issues for both your indoor and outdoor plants. Keep reading to learn all about the many uses of Epsom salt for potted plants and garden beds — you might just find yourself sprinkling it on your crops! 

Read more
The 5 best places to buy succulents online to start your plant collection
From subscription boxes to one-off purchases, you're sure to find your next succulent here
A succulent in a gift box

Succulents are easy to grow and incredibly fun to collect. Their small size, beautiful colors, and unique shapes make them popular with beginners and experienced plant parents alike. If you've already exhausted the options at your local plant stores or you're looking for a specific succulent variety, then you might want to buy succulents online. When it comes to buying succulents and cacti online, there’s always the risk of shipping going wrong. Plants can be damaged and packages can be lost, and not every seller will do their best to help make things right.

Luckily for you, there are professional plant sellers online who are aware of everything that could go wrong and who do their best to make your experience positive! While there’s no true guarantee your plant will arrive completely in pristine condition, these five succulent shops strive to get happy, healthy plants to you in the safest way possible (sometimes in the form of monthly subscription boxes, and who doesn't want a new plant at their door every month?).

Read more
Coriander vs. cilantro: Here’s how these herbs differ
Tips on telling these herbs apart and harvesting them from your garden
Coriander seeds and cilantro leaves

Cilantro and coriander are both popular kitchen herbs. Cilantro features bright green, flat leaves (that somewhat resemble Italian parsley) and is known to many as “the herb that tastes like soap.” Coriander seeds come from the same plant as cilantro, which is scientifically known as Coriandrum sativum. What we call cilantro is actually the coriander plant, and to many, the dual-purpose of this herb can cause a bit of confusion. Here's everything you need to know about coriander vs. cilantro for the next time you're cooking in the kitchen or harvesting them from your garden.

How do cilantro and coriander differ?
Because they come from the same plant, it’s very easy to be confused about why these herbs aren’t called the same thing. But here's the difference: Cilantro is not only the leaves of the plant but the stems as well, and coriander comes from the seeds. Why are the stems and seeds called cilantro instead of coriander if it’s a coriander plant?

Read more