Watering a gooseberry plant indoors
One of the best ways to keep your indoor plants happy and healthy is by watering them well. Find advice on when and how to water.

Helpful information

Timing: All year around

Where to do it: Indoors

Garden space: Indoors

  • Watering plants indoors is a frequent task, offering regular physical activity
  • Through watering, you can better understand your plants and what they need to survive
  • When you water, you can get an immediate sense of benefitting your plants. Sometimes, you can almost watch a droopy plant pick up before your eyes with a little water!

Essential items

  • Watering tools (see below for guide)

Tools to make it easier

  • Self-watering spike
  • Soil moisture meter
Pothos, also known as devil’s ivy, in a decorative gold pot
Pothos plant, also known as Devil's Ivy

Indoor watering can

Watering cans are perhaps one of the most well-known of all gardening tools!

For indoor plants, small lightweight watering cans with long, thin spouts are available.

You can find watering cans with a control valve. These are designed to save tipping and arm strain. Make sure you can comfortably push the button that controls the valve.

Misters are available to give your plants a light spray, although you do not need to. Misting is not suitable for all plants.

Search for indoor watering cans online

Bottle top waterer

You can convert an old plastic bottle into a watering device by adding a bottle top waterer. The gentle sprinkle that comes out makes them best suited for small plants and seedlings.

Search for bottle top waterers online

Watering trays/ Capillary matting

Watering trays are handy at keeping plants both outside and inside well-watered. They come in a variety of sizes to fit different pots. Capillary matting can be placed at the bottom of your trays to enable the water to be available for longer.

The good news is you could also use a tea tray with a dish cloth on to achieve much the same effect.

Search for watering trays online

A selection of houseplants arranged in an old suitcase are carefully watered
A selection of houseplants arranged in an old suitcase are carefully watered

Proper drainage

A home alive with houseplants is such a joy. Getting watering right is the best way of helping them thrive.

Make sure your houseplant pots have drainage holes in the bottom. Place the pots on a plate or water tray. You could also put the plant (still in its pot) inside a slightly bigger decorative pot.

How to tell when your plant needs watering

For smaller plastic pots, one of the best ways to tell when to water is to pick up your pot and check its weight. If it feels light, it most likely needs some water. If it is heavy, then it probably has enough water.

Another sign to look out for is the soil / compost ‘shrinking back’ from the sides of the pot and leaving a gap. That means your plant needs water.

As a rough guide, most houseplants need watering every two to three days over summer and less over winter.

Make it easier

You could buy a moisture meter to help tell how wet or dry the soil is. Stick the probe in the soil and it will give you a reading.

Top tip

The most important thing for successful houseplant watering is getting to know your individual plant. Some, such as cacti or mother-in-law’s tongue, need very little water.

Before buying houseplants, you may want to research which need less or more care. You can then make a decision depending on your needs.

How to water well

Gently water your indoor plants around the soil at the base. If your plant is on a tray or plate, you can water into that, and the water will soak up into the plant’s roots.

If you find it easier to manage, instead of using a watering can, you can place your houseplants in a sink full of water. Leave them for a few minutes so they have time to absorb water.

Make it easier

If you have any challenges with mobility or sight, place plants where you can easily get water to them.

A self-watering spike can allow you to water less. Stick it in the soil and it will slowly release water over time.

Watering is a lovely ongoing activity where you can keep admiring your houseplants.

Plan what you will do if you are going away, particularly during summer. It may be worth asking a friend or neighbour if they can pop in and water your indoor plants.

Top tip

If you’ve forgotten to water and your plants have wilted or completely flopped don’t give up on them just yet! A really good water may be enough to revive them.

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