How to Tell If Plants Need Water

Overview

Healthy plants require adequate water in order to prosper. Factors such as the amount of sunlight a plant receives, soil conditions and humidity levels all play a part in how much water your plants need to stay healthy. By knowing the water requirements of your plants, along with their individual signs of dehydration, you can ensure your plants receive the water they need.

House Plants

Step 1

Stick a finger 1 inch into the plant's soil. If it feels dry, your plant requires watering. Alternately, you can purchase a moisture meter that will measure the water contents of the soil and give you a reading of "wet," "moist" or "dry."

Step 2

Examine the leaves of your house plants. If they are turning brown around the edges, curling up, turning translucent or their growth has slowed, these are signs it's time to water the plant.

Step 3

Pick up smaller plants, before and after watering, and take note of their weight. With practice you can learn to determine the soil's moisture content by the weight of the plant. When the plant feels light, it is time to water.

Outdoor Plants

Step 1

Check the stems and leaves for signs of drooping. This is a sign of insufficient water.

Step 2

Look for premature blossom drop on flowers. Flowering plants that loose their blossoms too soon are often dehydrated.

Step 3

Take note of the plant's color. Many plants, such as ornamental grasses, will turn brown and go into a dormant stage when they lack water.

Succulents and Cacti

Step 1

Check the outer skin for wrinkles. Wrinkling is caused by the shrinkage of a succulent's water-storing tissues.

Step 2

Look for fallen segments or pads on cacti. Plants such as prickly pear will shed their pads when dehydrated.

Step 3

Water leafy succulents if their leaves are wilting.

Step 4

Check for drooping in aloe and agave plants. Water the plant to bring its moisture levels back up.

Tips and Warnings

  • Over watering can be just as harmful as under watering. Too much water can cause cacti and succulents to rot and have the same physical effects, such as wilting and drooping, in annuals and perennials. Do not make your plants depended on frequent watering. Instead, when possible, use the "water deep and water infrequently" method to create healthier and more independent plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Moisture meter (optional)

References

  • Guide for Watering Indoor Plants
  • Watering Perrenials
  • Watering Outdoor Plants

Who Can Help

  • Watering Cacti and Succulents
Keywords: water plants, moisture meter, succulents and cacti

About this Author

Sophia Darby is a former professional hairstylist who has spent the last six years writing hair-related articles for both online and print publications. Her work has appeared in Celebrity Hairstyles Magazine, as well as multiple websites.