Basic watering guide for indoor plants

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LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – How much should you water your plants? More people are guilty of drowning plants rather than creating droughts, especially when people are spending more time at home.

Proper watering goes hand in hand with proper placement for successful indoor plants, according to Good Earth Plant Company. Light, humidity, and air temperature are also major factors in the equation.

If you’re watering thoroughly, the average indoor plant only needs to be watered once a week. This varies widely with plants in smaller pots, around four inches, with good lighting being watered around twice a week and plants in large pots, around 20 inches, in low light going four to six weeks between watering.

Of course the type of plant also matters with cacti and succulents lasting much longer between “sips” of water.

A tip to keep in mind when using tap water from municipal sources is the possibility of salts in the water. You can leach them out by occasionally flushing the soil by setting them outside during a good rain.

Also avoid using household water if you have a water softening system as this tends to add salt while diluting minerals.

Speaking of minerals one cost-saving solution is to avoid using distilled water. Buying distilled water isn’t doing your plants any favors as it is stripped of minerals which plants need to thrive. It also interferes with moisture meter readings.

Of course you can also save money buy using a simple tool instead of a moisture meter called your finger – stick it in the soil and see the soil feels moist to the touch. If you would like to be a bit fancier, use a bamboo stick and see if wet soil clings to it, kind of like using a knife while you are baking brownies.

History is the best measure of how to water your plant by asking questions like when did the plant get watered last? Was it given a little or a lot of water?

How old is the plant? Newer plants require additional water in the beginning weeks, while established plants require less.

Can you easily pick the plant up? Pick up a plant and feel how heavy it is before you water it then feel it after and see if you can spot the difference.

Have you ever wondered if your plants would ever like something besides water to drink?

Some gardeners use coffee grounds as fertilizer or add them to compostCoffee grounds and brewed coffee contain nitrogen along with measurable amounts of magnesium and potassium which help to feed plant growth. It makes sense to add some coffee to your plants, but maybe not the same kind you serve yourself. If you are adding cream or sugar to your coffee, it may not be the best choice for your plants. The best bet is taking a bit of the black coffee left over from your morning pot of joe, letting it cool down then mixing it with an equal amount of water. Acid-loving plants like African violets, bromeliads, aloes, ferns, orchids, and many flowering indoor plants enjoy a little pick me up about once a month. Although, if you notice leaves turning yellow then you might have overdone it. You can also use coffee on lawns and roses.

Using milk on plants is right out of the old-time almanacs. Raw or unpasteurized cow’s milk has beneficial proteins and sugars as well as calcium that plants use for growth. Unfortunately using milk on indoor plants can cause bacteria to breakdown milk fat. The last thing you want to wonder is why your plant smells like spoiled milk.

You can use half milk and half water outside in a vegetable garden as well as a natural remedy for powdery mildew on leaves.

If you are looking for a drinking buddy as you are stuck indoors, share a cold one with your indoor plant. Your favorite brew is loaded with beneficial bacteria yeast, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. The acids can also help prevent fungi growth and keep pests like fungus gnats away. You can also use shallow pans of red wine to attract and kill fungus gnats. So feel free to pour the last bit of stale beer into your plant, but if you don’t want your house to smell like a local craft brewery, dilute it with water. Also, don’t worry a plant doesn’t have a nervous system so it can’t get drunk, according to Botanist Michael Shaw.

You don’t want to pour anything packed with sugars into your plants like hard liquor. It is not especially harmful, but it will draw insects and pests as well as get a curious pet to chew or dig at your plant. The same goes for sodas, juice, or energy drinks.

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