It is odd to imagine them as such, but plants can be deceptive. Not deceptive in the ways humans are. They are not going to misrepresent themselves or communicate using ambiguity or half-truths. No, quite the opposite. Plants cannot represent themselves, nor can they deliberately communicate anything.
That is what makes them so difficult to read at times, so much so that even something as straightforward as when to feed them can seem like trying divine the future. Are they not simple organisms? Are their needs not predictable? Have humans truly not figured out when the best time to water plants is?
Admittedly it is not the most commonly documented thing in history, but it is best to water plants in the morning or evening. This is because watering them in the morning prepares them for the day, giving them water to help them photosynthesize while watering them in the evening cools them off.
This is somewhat an oversimplification, but if you are new to taking care of plants in your home then you are likely looking for broad strokes more than nuances. Think of watering them in the morning to be like giving plants their morning coffee, while watering in the evening is giving them a bath after a long day’s work.
This probably sounds strange, since it is the same action but with two completely different connotations. However, that is no accident of language; rather, that should underline how much difference a simple change in the timing of your watering can make to your little green friends.
How To Tell When A Plant Needs Water?
This rule of watering plants in the morning and evening is all well and good, but it carries with it some assumptions. It assumes that your plants are in an environment of perfect equilibrium. It assumes that they get a reasonable amount of sunlight to shade and that the heat is not so great that they are consistently dried out.
Draughts are becoming more and more common as greenhouse gas emissions not only warm the planet but extend and intensify summers. Whereas forty years ago seeing plants wilt in the heat of a window was pretty uncommon, nowadays it is something you are going to have to deal with every summer.
Given that, it is a better time than ever to learn how to identify, diagnose, and treat a plant’s needs, particularly when it comes to dryness and watering it. As you might expect, it all starts with looking at and feeling the soil.
Plants are watered by pouring the water directly onto the soil they live in. You probably know this already. But what you might not know is that this “topsoil” that the water makes contact with will almost always be a little moist. This means two things for you: The first is that if the topsoil is dry, then the plant itself is in danger.
The second, less obvious thing to look for is actually under the topsoil. See, because the topsoil is almost always moist, it can actually hide the real problem. If your plant is seeming dried out despite your repeated attempts to keep it consistently watered, then try mixing the soil around a bit.
What you should be trying to do is stir the soil up so that the topsoil is no longer the topsoil. Get it so that you can see and feel the soil underneath. If the soil under the topsoil is dry, then you know why your plant is drying out: Because the plant is drying out faster than the topsoil is.
This is why plants are deceptive. The topsoil dries out slower than the rest of the plant no matter what. The plant has no control over this, it is just a matter of chemistry. You have to take the initiative to understand what is going on with the plant. If you wait for it to tell you what is wrong, you will wait forever.
How Frequently Do You Need To Water Plants?
You can usually tell how much water a plant needs and how much water is enough simply by watching the soil absorb it. Water and soil go hand in hand because of this. You need to keep the soil healthy, and you keep it healthy by watering it.
Humans have an intuitive sense of how soil absorbs water, and if you watch closely, you can see when the soil begins to absorb less of it than before. Now, you should keep in mind that it is possible to over-water plants. However, it is far easier to under-water plants. You should be more scared of the latter than the former.
For that reason, you should water your plants once a day and give them as much water as you think they can take. Simply water them until the soil stops immediately absorbing the water. This will give them plenty of water, and only doing it once a day will mean you do not over-water your plants.
The thing is that people who are new to taking care of plants tend to be nervous. They can develop bad habits, such as watering their plants more than three times a day. This will lead to the plants quickly drowning. You do not need to water your plants that much. Water them thoroughly once a day and it will be enough.
Watering your plants is easy. Knowing when to do it, how to do it, and how to figure out which is which, is the hard part. Luckily, it is not impossible. Many people who are new to growing plants at home are overwhelmed. They get the impression that plants are enigmatic and mysterious. But that is not the case.
The situation is more like that plants speak their own language. They signal their needs in strange ways because they come from a state of nature where they expect no one to help them. But you can help them, and now, hopefully, you will.