woman watering plant

A plant needs water in order to thrive, but too much, or too little, water can quickly kill a plant. In fact, the most common cause of early plant death is over-watering. The fact that different plants each have their own water requirements can initially make things a little confusing, but there are a few general rules that you can follow to ensure that your plant is receiving the perfect amount of water.

Know Your Variety

Although a plant’s water requirements will vary based on the environment around it, you can still get a rough idea of how much water your plant needs by knowing its variety.

For example, the Snake Plant Laurentii only needs to be watered every two or three weeks, while the Parlor Palm requires water at least once a week, along with a high amount of humidity. Doing a little research into the variety of your plant will give you a starting point into understanding how much you should be watering your plant.

Check Soil Moisture

 houseplant on table

The location of your plant will have a big impact on its watering needs, as will its size, along with the size of its container. A small houseplant placed in bright light next to an artificial heat source will dry out much faster than a larger one kept in a shady and humid environment, so the best way to decide if your plant needs water is by checking its soil.


Give the soil a touch, about an inch below the surface. If it is light-colored and dry, then it needs water. However, if it is darker in color and moist to the touch, then it likely doesn’t need more water just yet. Ideally, check the soil a couple of times a day to begin with, as this will help you to better understand exactly how often your plant needs water.

Keep in mind that your plant will likely need less water in the winter than in the spring and summer. During the warmer months, the plant is actively growing, requiring frequent waterings. However, in the colder seasons, most plants go into dormancy, meaning that you can usually cut back on how much you water by about a half.

How Much Water Should You Use?

Hand watering plant

If you know that your plant needs water, then you’re now probably wondering how much water you should actually be giving it.

The general rule of thumb is that potted plants need around a quarter to a third of their pot size in water, for each watering. However, you need to make sure that the water you are providing is actually going into the soil, rather than around the edges and then out from the holes at the bottom of your pot. If this happens, allow the pot to sit in the water for about half an hour (assuming your pot is in a decorative pot or on a drainage saucer), before draining the water away.

Try to also ensure that the water you are using on your plants is room temperature. Anything colder or warmer could end up shocking your plant, causing it damage.

A healthy plant needs the right amount of water, making it worth spending some time working this out. Whether you need to water your plant every day or just a couple of times a month, knowing how much you should be watering your plant is key when it comes to plant care.

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