How to Measure When Your Plants Have Had Enough Water

Overview

Plants are aesthetically pleasing, emotionally calming, and can even help to clean the air by absorbing toxic chemicals. If you have plants in your home or office, you may keep a watering can sitting next to them in an effort to keep them watered regularly. However, it can be difficult to know when to stop watering your plants.

Step 1

Study the plant description guide for your particular plant. Some plants require more water than others. Most guides will indicate whether a plant requires wet, moist, moderately moist or dry soil. Plants that require wet soil may sit in water. Moist soil requirements mean that the soil should never dry out, but should drain. Moderately moist means that the soil can get a little dry, but never dry out completely--and a plant that requires dry soil should only be infrequently watered.

Step 2

Check your plant description guide to find out whether your particular plant requires a rest period in the watering. During a rest period, plants go dormant and do not need water. A plant that is watered during a resting period may develop root rot.

Step 3

Stick your finger down into the soil to feel how damp the soil is. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the soil's feel and appearance is one way to determine whether the soil needs to be watered according to the plant's guidelines, because the soil's feel and texture changes with the soil's moisture content. Soil that is saturated will leave a coating of water and dirt on the fingers. As the soil loses water, less dirt or water will coat the fingers. Soil that is completely dry will feel sandy to the touch.

Step 4

Insert a moisture meter's probe halfway into the soil to determine the amount of moisture in the soil. The moisture meter will generally have a needle on an arm that rates the soil based on moisture content on a scale of 0 (no water in the soil) to 100 percent (saturated soil). Based on the reading of moisture content that your moisture meter gives off, you will be able to tell if your soil's moisture level is correct for the specific plant. If the reading for the soil's moisture is higher than the plant needs, the plant has become overwatered, and you should stop watering.

Step 5

Look for signs of overwatering in your plants. Signs of overwatering may include the lower leaves turning yellow, the plant appearing wilted overall, the roots rotting, or the soil looking green. If your plant exhibits these signs, you should cut back on watering the plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Plant description guide
  • Moisture meter

References

  • The Effect of Plants and Artificial Day-Light on the Health and Wellbeing of Office Workers, School Children and Health Care Professionals
  • NASA Study House Plants Clean Air
  • Signs Of Plants Affected By Too Much Water

Who Can Help

  • Watering Plants
  • Estimating Soil Moisture by Feel and Appearance
Keywords: watering plants, signs of overwatering plants, care of plants

About this Author

Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.