Watering and Fertilizing Your Indoor Garden

Learning to water plants properly is something you truly have to discover for yourself. How much water a plant requires and how often it needs watering is dependent on the type and size of plant, the pot it is growing in, the soil, temperature, and humidity.

Gift plants like hydrangea, calceolaria and cyclamen needs copious watering. An ideal way to do this is by soaking them weekly in a bucket of water, then daily watering. Cacti and other succulents require less water as compared to thin-leaved plants. Flowering plants growing in pots need watering frequently than plants of the same size growing in bigger pots. Plants growing in clay pots however, need watering more often than those in ceramic, plastic, or metal pots. For plants growing in hot, dry air need watering more often than those in cool, moist air. Do note that sandy soil dries out faster than clay soil. Soil that is rich in humus, like leaf mold or peat moss holds water well and should never be permitted to become completely dry that it shrinks from the pot sides. This is damaging to the plant and the soil is hard to hydrate.
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You can get a watering gauge that will help you judge a plant's moisture needs. Stick the point in the soil and reading the top of the gauge. The old reliable rule still holds true though, "Touch the topsoil and if it feels dry, it's time to water." Abide by this rule for a while, and before you know it you'll be able to judge moisture needs just by the look of the growing medium at the surface. Until you become acquainted with your plants' water requirements, test plants like African violets, other gesneriads, and miniature roses, among others, by poking your finger almost a half inch into the soil. If it feels dry at this level, you can be sure that it's time to water.

Always use room-temperature water and water thoroughly from the top or bottom. You may alternate also, watering from the top one time, from the bottom the next. If you grow several plants, you can save time by keeping them in a waterproof tray of metal or plastic. There are handy gadgets for watering plants growing on high shelves. Use a watering aid by setting up a complete siphon set up, with a pail hung from a hook in the basement ceiling. A slender plastic tube attached to the pail equipped with cutoff makes for an easy start and stop operation.

Avoid spilling water on the crowns of budded gloxinias, calceolarias, African violets, or plants similar in habit, since rot may set in. Clean furry leaves using a soft camel's-hair brush or you can wash the leaves in the sink with tepid water. This is likewise a good treatment for all smooth-leaved plants. If you particularly like highly polished leaves, keep them glossy using a leaf polishing liquid or products that can give you similar effect.

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