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How To Tell When Your Plants Need Watering!

Striking the right balance between not underwatering or overwatering your plants is a challenge for even the most experienced gardeners. We wanted to give you some tips so that you know what signs to look out for, and how to test if your plants need watering!

Did you know plants are 90% water!

Remember to water your plants with room temperature water, or even better rainwater, as cold water can cause your plant to become dormant and hot water can cause root damage. 

Wilting plant.

Why plants need water:

  • Water helps to move nutrients from the soil up the stem and to all parts of the plant.
  • It helps plants engage in photosynthesis, this gives plants the energy and food they need to survive and thrive.
  • Water helps plants keep their rigidity and stay upright.

Signs your plants not getting enough water:

1. Wilting

When your plant isn’t getting enough water it loses turgor, this is what makes living plant tissue rigid. The loss of turgor causes flowers and leaves to wilt. 

2. Slow Growth

If you notice your plant doesn’t seem to be growing at the rate you would expect, question if it has been getting enough water. 

3. Dry, dead leaf tips

If the ends of the leaves are drying up and turning brown your plant may not be getting enough water. Be sure to check your plants often for this, as at first it will be the ends but then it will be whole leaves which will eventually fall off if no action is taken! 
However, this could also be caused by direct exposure to the sun. If your plant is in direct sunlight try moving it to indirect sunlight and see if any more leaves dry up. 

4. Dry Soil

If the soil is visually dry or starts to crack and the soil level decreases, this can be a sign your plant isn’t getting enough water.

5. Yellow Leaves

If your plant’s leaves turn yellow this is a sign your plant is getting either too much or too little water so be sure to check you know which it is before watering.

6. Decreased Production

If you notice your plant doesn’t seem to be producing any new leaves or flowers, check if it's getting enough water.

7. Soil Rot

Soil rot usually occurs from too much water, if you keep your plant constantly damp you can encourage root rot which will then lead to your plant dying completely. It’s important to strike the right balance when it comes to watering. If in doubt, less is more!

    Dry, cracked soil. Withered plant leaves. Plant with yellow leaves. 

    Be sure to check if your plant has more than one of these signs so you can be sure lack of water is the issue and there’s not another cause. For example, if your plant has dry soil and the leaves are wilting it will need watering, however, if your soil is wet and the leaves are wilting it has been overwatering and could have root rot.

    How to test if your plants need watering:

    1. Test with your finger

    Test soil for dryness with your finger as the top may look dry but underneath it may be moist, push down a few inches and if the top inch is dry give your plant water.

    2. Use a stick

    If you don’t want to use your finger test the soil for moisture with a stick or skewer, leave it in for a couple of minutes and if it’s wet when you take it out your plant doesn’t need watering yet so try again in a few days.

    3. Check the colour

    Check the colour of the soil to see if it needs watering, if the soil is dark in colour it is most likely damp so doesn’t need watering, if it’s lighter in colour it is dry so will need watering. I would always recommend using another method as well as this one though, as it may just be a thin layer on top that is dry.

    4. Use a moisture meter

    A moisture meter is a tool that tells you on a scale if your soil is too dry, moist or wet when you push the probe into the soil. This is great for those that would like an accurate reading and are affordable if it’s just for your home garden.

    5. A soil probe

    You can use a soil probe to draw out soil from a few inches down, then you’ll be able to see how dry your soil is and whether it needs watering.

    6. Check the weight

    If when you lift your plant up it seems quite light it will more than likely need watering, however, if it feels heavy it will be perfectly fine for a few more days. This works best on smaller plants as even when watered they aren’t too heavy. For larger plants, you will need to use another method.

    Use a combination of the methods above to make sure underwatering is the issue, as it could be a lack of other nutrients your plant needs to survive. 


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