The right way to water your plants is a delicate balance of watering too little and overwatering. Watering too often may cause root rot. You can establish a watering schedule for each plant and water it when needed. A dark soil indicates adequate water. If you are not sure check the soil periodically and add water as needed. For best results you should water your plant only when it appears dry. If the soil is dry water it less.
Watering too often
Houseplants grow differently and they all require different amounts of water. Most popular houseplants are tropical varieties with huge leaves that absorb a lot of water. Desert-adapted houseplants like succulents require little water. A general rule is to water houseplants less frequently than those that require a lot of water. If you have to water your plant more often than that it's probably because your houseplants require more water in the summer than they do in the winter.
To ensure that you're watering properly try to determine how often you need to water your plants. The amount of water you need to provide will depend on the type of soil you have. Plants with sandy soil need less water than plants with clay soil. If you don't know try the fingerstick test to see if the top inch of soil is dry. Make sure you water your plants in the morning and early evening when their leaves are most vulnerable to rot.
Too much water can kill plants faster than underwatering. When soil is constantly wet roots can't breath and can't take in enough oxygen. When they can't breathe their roots can't use the water that they need to grow. Watering too often can cause the roots to rot. Symptoms of too much water can be hard to notice until it's too late. If you notice the signs of decline in your plants' growth you can stop the damage before it happens.
Overwatering can kill plants. This can be especially harmful to young plants and saplings as they can't absorb enough oxygen through their roots. Root rot and decay can result from this lack of oxygen. Moreover watering your plants too often can lead to mold and algae growth on the soil surface. Soaker hoses and drip emitters can be used to water your plants in a controlled manner. For outdoor use you should also make sure that you're using a drip irrigation system as overhead irrigation can cause fungal infections.
Overwatering plants can mimic symptoms of underwatering. These plants may lose leaves prematurely and develop mold along their stems and soil surface. Their leaves may even begin to show soft brown patches. In severe cases over-watering may lead to the lower stem and roots rotting. Over-watering plants may even emit a foul odor. A waterlogged plant can also experience leaf rot. If this happens it's time to contact a professional.
Placing plants too deeply in pots
If you want to keep your plants healthy avoid placing them too deeply in pots. Potted plants grow out of their containers over time. The root system becomes cramped and unable to get adequate nutrients and water. This signals that it's time to move the plant. To avoid this problem place your plants in pots that are an inch or smaller in depth. If they're too deep in a pot they'll have trouble absorbing water and nutrients.
Generally the size of the pot your plant will need depends on its expected growth rate its current conditions and its desired ultimate size. If you're unsure rely on your own perception of what a healthy specimen looks like. If in doubt go with the next larger pot size. If you're unsure you can always repot the plant by using the next larger pot size.
Dividing or rearranging plants as needed
Before dividing or rearranging a plant consider the new location where you will plant the new divisions. Dig holes for planting the new divisions before dividing the clump. This will minimize the time that the roots are exposed to the air. Dig the planting holes a bit wider than the clump allowing ample room for new plant roots. You should also water the plant thoroughly before dividing it.
Divide perennial plants if you have too many. Overcrowding can weaken a perennial plant preventing it from blooming fully. Dividing perennials will help you create drifts throughout a bed filling in a new one. You can also share the divisions with friends and neighbors. If you have extras you can sell them at a roadside stand or donate them to a garden club.
Common houseplant diseases
Many common houseplant diseases can kill a plant. Luckily many of these diseases are opportunistic meaning they tend to attack plants when their environment is unfavorable. To minimize your risk of disease outbreaks you should create the right growing environment. This includes the use of quality potting soil providing plants with ample room to grow and avoiding drafts from heating vents. In addition plants need adequate humidity light and drainage to survive and thrive.
Symptoms of a plant disease include stunted growth and yellow powdery blotches or spots on the leaves. Infected leaves may also drop. Stems may become soft or show black discoloration near the soil. Some of these symptoms can be mistaken for insect pests but they're not. Here are some signs of common houseplant diseases:
Viruses can infect plants at any time so make sure to clean your hands thoroughly before handling your plants. Viruses are often contagious and infect other plants if they're not properly cared for. To prevent disease from spreading be sure to thoroughly water your plants each day. Aside from washing your hands be sure to remove the infected plants from the garden. If you suspect you have a plant with a plant disease quarantine it for several weeks until it clears up.
Powdery mildew is a fungus that causes white powdery spots on leaves. While it's usually not fatal it can drastically affect the growth of your plants. It can also cause leaves to shrivel or drop. The good news is that it's possible to cure powdery mildew by removing affected leaves and cleaning the soil which is also vital to preventing the spread of the fungus.
Bacterial leaf spot is another common houseplant disease. Various fungi can cause this disease. Depending on the particular bacteria it can affect foliage or the entire plant. Fungal leaf spots can appear in different colors and even cause leaf drop. You can try fungicidal sprays to treat the disease but you should make sure the potting mix is clean. It's best not to reuse a potting mix if it's infected.