When it comes to owning indoor plants, knowing when to water them and how much they need can be a challenge. Trust me I know.
OK, this is going to be a little confession, so you know I’m talking from experience, one of the first ever plants I had was a cactus. His name was Alfred and he was a little baby cactus. I’ve got a habit of naming all my plants, more on that later!
Although I knew next to nothing about how to look after small plants, my first thought was “how hard can this be?”. You know what’s coming, don’t you? I didn’t know what the right amount of water I needed to give him so I guessed and watered him every week. After a short period of time, I noticed his needles were starting to fall off, and one side went bald! Yes, my cactus went bald! I really wish I had a taken a photo of it because, thinking about it now, it’s too ridiculous for words. I don’t know what type of cactus he was, just that I killed him.
So that was my first experience with a potted plant.
Fast forward about thirteen years later, older and ‘wiser’, I wanted to get some plants but I needed to find the easiest way way of not killing them first. This is when I came across bottom-watering plants.
What is bottom-watering plants?
This is a way of watering the plants by sitting them in a bowl or a tub with a few inches of water. Instead of top watering (watering from the top), they are bottom watering (watering from the bottom). As your plant pot has drainage holes, the plant will drink enough water through the plant’s roots and won’t take in any excess water. It will drink as much water as it needs. You’ll see the water level drop after a while.
Also, knowing when your plants need a drink is something to keep an eye on. I’ve seen some who water their plants weekly on a schedule but different plants have different needs; some plants will start drooping slightly or a good idea will be to put your finger in through the soil surface, if it’s dry, it’s probably time to water. Alfred, being a cactus, didn’t need watering weekly, because he was a tropical plant. I know this now!
What are the benefits of bottom watering?
It’s easy to do – I’m starting with my favourite one; it’s easy. Fill up a bowl of water and pop your plant in. Easy Peasy Greeny!
Eliminates watering guesswork – It’s tough to know how much water your plants need, you could end up giving them too much or too little water. This takes the guesswork out of the equation. Plus, any excess water will sit at the bottom which could lead to root rot. No one wants that.
No dry patches – sometimes, the centre of the pot is getting most of the water which could lead some areas not receiving as much water. Bottom watering is a great way to ensure all the soil at the bottom has an even distribution of water, eliminating any patches of dry soil.
How do I do this?
As this is technique that I already use, and post about it on my social media, you’ll see how easy it is. Don’t worry, you don’t need any special equipment. You’ve probably already got everything you need at home.
You’ll need a bowl / large plate / Plant tray / Casserole dish, basically anything you can use to fill some water at the bottom of the container where your plants will sit. I’ve seen people use their bathtub. I like this because you can water many (if not all) your plants at the same time.
Fill up the container with a few inches of water and place your plants in. This is where you leave them and go off and do what you need to do; have a cuppa, sleep, watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
I personally, leave my plants for about an hour but remember, they won’t drink anymore than they need, so you don’t need to worry about getting too much water. If you’re not sure, check the top of the soil. If the surface of the soil feels wet/damp, your plant has had plenty to drink.
Of course, larger plants will need more time as they will drink more water and smaller plants will need less time as they drink less water.
I personally use a mixture of tap water, filtered water and rain water. As I live in a hard water area, I make an effort to use rain water where I can. I’ve also used cooled down leftover water from whenever I’ve cooked pasta or potatoes, which seem to work for my houseplants. If you do this, make sure you don’t add salt to the water, you’ll kill your plant.
Here are a few videos from Instagram. Peace Lillies can be so dramatic!
This is my only watering method I use; it stops me from overwatering my plants, there’s no excess water at the bottom of the pot which can lead to root rot, and the plant drinks what it needs.
What’s with the naming plants?
I have a few plants; snake plants, peace lilies, an orchid, and a spider plant. Actually, the spider plant was something my daughter planted at school and I, somehow, inherited it. I did have some aloe vera plants but when we moved house, let’s just say, they didn’t make it.
When I went to the garden centre, I looked for a low maintenance plant, and a Peace Lily caught my eye. I didn’t bother looking at any others, I bought it. After a while, I thought it was lonely so I got it a friend. It was around the time I first got into Marvel and ended up calling them Wanda and Pietro. After quite a few months later, they were still alive so I ended up buying a snake plant, but he got lonely so I got another one for Mother’s Day. I named the first one Thor and the second one Loki.
These were Bart and Lisa, who didn’t survive the house move
Haven’t got a name for this little one yet . Maybe I need to get it a friend
I’ve personally found that this method of watering is the best way to water plants and keeps the soil’s moisture level right and works really well for me.
Don’t forget, it’s Houseplant week in January!